By Bill Piervincenzi
I urged my frightened steed forward. Down we went, into the bowels of the earth beneath Kingston Hospital. Fiends made of flames licked out of the stonewalls and fell upon my legs. My legs went numb while a voice inside my head urged me on.
“You’ll be OK,” the voice said: “Let them taste your sword.”
I drew my sword and flailed about me. Headless gargoyles fluttered on the ground around me. The voice urged me on towards the dim light ahead. Monsters of every description tore at me as I fought my way forward. My arms grew heavy and the numbness moved from my hands up my arms. I dropped my sword and fell to the ground as screaming Banshees fell upon me.
What you have just read was the result of the medications I was given at Kingston Hospital to ease the pain caused by Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It all started one morning in January. I had just gotten over the flu and I was feeling pretty good. I bounced out of bed in the morning and promptly fell on my face. My legs were not working. Somehow, I managed to get dressed and hauled myself down the steps on my backside.
My wife drove me to the E.R. of Margaretville Hospital. The doctor examined me immediately. He then called Kingston Hospital and conferred with a neurologist there. I was immediately bundled up and evacuated by ambulance to Kingston. Upon arriving forty minutes later, a spinal tap was performed and the diagnosis was confirmed. Treatment with human immunoglobin was begun and I was placed in I.C.U. to make sure the ascending paralysis did not reach my diaphragm. I stayed there for a month while my arms and legs were paralyzed and atrophying.
Early diagnosis and rapid treatment prevented the syndrome from being worse. Now it was time for rehabilitation. I requested to be returned to Margaretville, where I remained for another six weeks. During that time, I was given occupational and physical therapy daily. Under the guidance of the fantastic nursing staff and the therapists, feeling and function slowly returned to my arms and hands. My legs responded more slowly. Eventually I was able to walk a few steps with a walker.
I was ready to go home. On the day I was to go home, I woke up with a pain in my abdomen. The pain steadily increased until it was unbearable. I was rushed to the new C.T. scanner and it was determined that my gall bladder needed to be removed immediately. Apparently one of the side effects of the treatment I received was liver damage. Back to Kingston I went. That night, laparoscopic surgery was performed and the next day, I was hardly aware that I was operated on. I stayed in Kingston for another two days. I then requested transfer back to Margaretville, where I stayed for another two weeks. All in all, I spent nine weeks in the hospital.
When I got home, my wife Eddie presented me with a plastic bag full of get well cards from all of my neighbors. Those cards made quite a difference. When you are frightened and in pain and you know those around you are wishing you well, it goes a long way towards helping you heal. God bless you all for that. I have recovered enough to be able to drive and get around with a cane. Those nine weeks gave me the time I needed to reflect and count my blessings. I consider myself very fortunate indeed.