Friday, March 2, 2012

Ambulence And Friends On The Line

After about an hour of trying to see if it was just a pinched nerve, or maybe a swollen join pinching the spine we decided to call Robert. A friend of ours, and more importantly an EMT.  Rose grabbed her phone and hit the speed dial. I could hear the phone ringing and remember just praying he would be available and not on a run in to Fort Wayne or South Bend.

After a few seconds Rose started talking and I could barely make out Roberts voice on the other end as it came through the speaker on her Infuse 4G.  She asked me a few questions about how I was feeling, what I could do etc, until she sighed, said "OK, thanks." and the call ended.

I can remember the calm on her face as she put her hand on my cheek and said "Robert's on his way honey. He said to wait till he gets here and we can figure out whats going on."

"OK honey," I said putting my hand on hers and kissing her.

The next few minutes passed silently as Rose kept moving my legs left and then right, inward and then out. We looked at each other and I could tell she was worried, but she kept calm and just kept repeating that it would be OK.

The phone rang startling Rose and I. It was Robert on the other line. I could tell it was him because the phone has a great speaker and it bleeds over into the surroundings a little. Rose started answering questions he must have been asking with short yes and no responses.

She grabbed put the phone down telling Robert to hold on a sec and looked at me with both her hands held towards me as if to assist me in sitting up.

"Hold my hands honey, and squeeze them as hard as your can." She said looking me in the eyes.

I grabbed her hands and did as she asked with a puzzled look on my face. I noticed it instantly, the weakness in my right hand. It was as if it was the first time I used my hand to do anything in months.

Rose told me to let go and relax as she picked the phone back up. "He's weak in his right hand." She confirmed.

After a few seconds more of talking on the phone she hung up and without looking at me called 911 and told me, "He said to call an ambulance honey. He's on his way, but he said we need to get you to a hospital."

I know she was panicked slightly now, because her voice was shaking lightly as the dispatcher answered the phone and she began nervously answering questions about where we were and what was happening.  All I could think about was how in the hell this could be happening. Strep throat, then walking pneumonia, next was appendicitis requiring surgery, and now this!

The next 10 minutes where the worst in my life. Rose and I stared in each others eyes while we waited for either the Ambulance or Robert to show up. The sun was just now coming up at about 6:45 AM, and I could see the cool blue light coming through the window shades as I lay there on the bed, Rosemary sitting by my side holding my hand.

After about 5 minutes the quiet silence of the morning was broken by the sharp siren of ambulance as it entered the addition. "Well honey, I think that's my ride." I said with a fake smile on my face.

The ambulance showed up much quicker than I or Rose had expected. Rose went downstairs to unlock the door and let the EMT's in the house. I could hear Izzy, our 7 year old Golden Retriever let out her single bark as the door opened and muffled voices started filling the downstairs.

The EMT's were quick. They came upstairs, around the banister, and into the bedroom talking into their walkies-talkies. Beeps and static filled the silence of the bedroom as one of the men came to the bedside and started asking me the normal questions. Who are you, what's going on, how long ago did you notice to issue? All the while I felt completely embarrassed as they asked questions, pulled a tilted wheelchair into the room, and lifted on to it.

Before I realized I was being taken outside in the cold morning frost on a stretcher. "Where would you like to go today Mr. Rickard?" I heard the paramedic ask as they lifted my stretcher into the back of the ambulance.

"St. Vincent off exit 10 please." I answered awkwardly.

And with that we sped out of the neighborhood, taking the main route to St. Vincent with my wife and Robert close behind us.

The Diagnoses

My diagnosis wasn't a simple thing.
Have you ever had a back ache? Most everyone can relate to the pain of a back ache. My back hurt llike normal for a few days. A dull pressure that went away with a little stretch here and there. A pop here and a crack there would alleviate the pressure that seemed to grip my spine. Then, my back began popping with normal movement. I didn't have to even try, it would just crack.
At this point is was Friday and after speaking with my family doctor I began talking the medication she prescribed. It helped a little bit, which was enough to keep taking the meds, but it didn't stop completely or close enough to even go to sleep for the most part.

The first night went by and nothing odd or out of the ordinary occurred. I played some games, watched some YouTube™ videos and stressed a little about what was going to happen in the next day. This all went on while the pain I had in my back began to spread a little, and get more and more severe.

Saturday night and Sunday night went on almost identical to Friday except for the increasing amount of pain.
By the time Monday night rolled around it took everything I had just to sit still on the heating pad that so quietly melted the edge off of the throbbing that now sped its way down my upper back.

I lay in bed roughly at midnight or 1 am on Tuesday dreading waking up to go to work. I lay there twisting and turning, back aching, needing to pop when I thought maybe laying on the heating pad would help. So, I went downstairs and grab the pad, and when I returned to bed I set the pad on the bed and turn the heat on.

It felt wonderful when I finally settled and lay still for several minutes. But, with each move I hurt more and more. So, I grabbed the Ipad2 and lay as still as I could reading webcomics like and

The clock ticked on, and I lay as still as possible and read. Several hours passed with little discomfort while I caught up on all my reading. Finally the alarm started sounding from the digital clock on the bookshelf across the room. The orange glow from the number read 6:30 as it were teasing me over the lack of sleep.

I put the Ipad2 down on the bed next to me, and when I tried to get up I couldn't get my legs to swing to the side. They acted like they were asleep, only without the tingly sensation you usually get. "Ok," I thought to myself, "they are probably just asleep." I told myself quietly as not to wake my wife next to me.

After several minutes attempting to get my legs to work I finally grabbed my wifes shoulder and gently nudged her back and forth to wake her up.

"Honey?" I said softly, "Honey, get up sweety." my voice growing more nervous.

I could here her begin to wake up in her breathing as she mumbled "What is it babe?"

"Honey, somethings wrong here. I can't get my legs to move." I said remaining as calm as I could, "Can you get the alarm and help me?"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A New Day A New Challenge

I would like to start by stating I have not, and I will not Google or go to or to look-up all the nitty-gritty details about Guillain Barre Syndrome. With all the wonderful information these sites can provide, ultimately the end up terrifying me into believing I have an alien disease attached to a part of my body that has more vowels than consonants in it. 

What I have been diagnosed with is a disease called Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). What the medical professionals of Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis have taught me about the disease is as follows:

1. It is rare - affecting only 1 out of every 100,000 people every year (so rare that I had to add it to my dictionary so it would stop telling me I have spelled it incorrectly.)
2. It is different for every person that develops the disease (meaning recovery cannot be predicted for every person based on treatment)
3. It is unknown what exactly causes this disease
4. It is thought that the disease is triggered when your bodies immune system fights off a virus. After fighting the virus a chemical change occurs causing your antibodies to misinterpret your nerve cells as foreign bodies.
5. It is at this point your antibodies begin attacking and destroying the myelin sheath around your nerve cells.
6. The myelin sheath is what insulates your nerves, allowing them to carry a signal from the brain to whatever part of your body you want to move.

What does this mean for someone suffering from GBS
In short you lose the ability to move first your toes, feet, legs, and so on moving up the body. This disease can make it impossible to breath on your own, requiring the use of a breathing tube if it progresses that far.

Now I know what you are thinking at this point. "Holy cheese sticks Mr. William! That is scary!"
My response is yes, it is scary. But, when facing a challenge like this, I was not given an option to say "It's too difficult, too scary. I don't want to accept this challenge."
To that end, I have been, and will continue to fight as hard as I can. I will continue to love all the good things in my life, to learn from all of the stumbles and failures I have. This is my life, and it has been built by not only myself, but all of those who have chosen to help.

I remain in Methodist ICU under strict observation until they are certain that the disease is in remission and will not interrupt my ability to breath.

Please stay tuned to find out more and thank you for the support you have given.