Guillain-Barré (GBS) and Me

The following is the start of my story, at least the parts I can remember that is, and something I provided to a fellow survivor for a book of stories.  To see how things are going please read the rest of my GBS posts…

My name is Donovan Sachs and I was 34 when I contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) on Dec 26, 2008, 3 months before my 35th birthday.  I had a normal Christmas and everything was going fine on the 26thuntil later at night.  I was sitting at the dining room table, with my wife, working on some crafts.  When I stood up my hamstrings and glutes cramped up.  I did not think much of it, just thought I had been sitting for too long and I have so many other issues with joints and all that I really didn’t think much of it.  Over the next couple of days more of my body started to cramp.  I couldn’t tell you in what order I started losing control I just know that it happened and it hurt.  My muscles hurt and I was having a hard time doing things, like sitting and standing.  On Sunday the 28th my wife took me to the ER.  I was sent home with chronic pain and pain pills.  I did have pain and the pills did nothing for it.  I had enough pain that I went back that very same night.  I went back to the same ER thinking that they had seen me once why not go back and let them see that it was getting worse.  Again, sent home with chronic pain, they simply had no idea what it was.  I don’t remember too many details from the next five days but I will do my best to explain what I do remember and then maybe my wife can fill in some holes.  I remember that I hurt and hurt bad.  I hurt just to be and was scared not knowing why.  I also remember that a hot bath took all the pain away.  I could sit in the tub and feel no pain.  I wished at one point that I could just stay in the tub until the pain went away forever.  I think I had three or four baths during the week and each time I managed to get in the tub I noticed that it was harder and harder to get out, my muscles were failing.  From Sunday the 28thtill Friday, January 2, 2009 I went to the ER five times.  I also went to the chiropractor and from what I am told the family doctor, but I don’t remember that trip at all.  I don’t really remember the second, third or fourth trips to the ER either.  However, I do remember that I got to the ER the fourth time by ambulance because I had lost so much strength and control that I couldn’t get out of bed.  I remember that the gurney wouldn’t make the corner into the bedroom and the EMTs and firemen had to carry me out of my room and lay me down.  I am not a woman, I did not find this “dreamy” by any means; I just hurt and wanted it to stop.  I do however remember what I think to be a majority of Friday, January 2, at least the early part of the day.  I don’t remember coming back from the hospital for the forth time but the morning of the 2nd I was still in so much pain.  I could not get out of bed and had no idea what to do.  We called my dad and asked him if he could please come out and help us get to another doctor.  We tried to go to my doctor, he was not in, but the chiropractor that shares the waiting room saw me and “fixed” my neck, but it really made no difference to how I felt.  We also tried to go to a VA clinic close to the house, but they couldn’t help us.  Tricia went in to ask so I did not have to make the trip in for no reason, and there was no reason.  So, we headed to the closest ER, the same one I went to for my first and second visits.  This time I saw the same doctor I saw the first time, Dr Velasco.  He recognized me and asked what I was doing back.  I explained the last week to him and he informed me that I wouldn’t be leaving until we figured out what was wrong.  It really was not long; at least I don’t think so, before the light bulb went off in his head.  He got that look in his eyes, that I think I know what is wrong look (kind of like House does, sorry if you don’t watch House), and he asked the magical question.  Have you been sick lately?  I told him that I had been sick two weeks prior and kind of shrugged my shoulders, or at least I wanted to but I don’t think I could.  He followed that with, “I want to get some spinal fluid.”  That did not sound all that fun to me, but I was already in so much pain I thought to myself “How much worse could it get.”  I didn’t feel a thing.  I think that test led to an MRI, Tricia will have to confirm.  Than I was off to the hospital for the beginning of a long journey.

 Thankfully I did not end up in ICU, I was one hall over.  I ended up about 75% paralyzed, only able to move my left arm from the elbow down and able to breath and all on my own.  As soon as I got to the hospital they started the first of five IVIg treatments.  That was the stopping force that I needed, the progression of the GBS was halted.  However the pain that I felt would continue to go on.  I don’t remember how many different meds I was on at this point, but I do remember that one of the night time meds caused me to hallucinate. At one point I thought the heart monitor patches were little patches of C4 on my chest and I had to get them off before they exploded and then my IV was a little bomb attached to my arm and again, I had to get it off before my arm blew up.  Well, the heart monitor was not much of and issue, they just put the little patches back on, but the IV being ripped out caused a little bit more of an issue, it bled real nice and I had a bruise for quite a while.  I had a couple days and nights where I was going from cold to hot and at some points I was sweating so bad that my sheets had to be changed 3 times during the night.  I was so uncomfortable.  After a week and a half at the first hospital the doctors decided that I was ready to move to the rehab hospital, so off I went.  I was still on several meds, including IV dilaudid.  Once I got into the rehab center we started doing therapy right away.  That was cut short when my resting heart rate decided to stay around 120 bpm and with mild movement it was 160 bpm.  I was then put in bed for a day and a half.  This led to yet another medicine; this one was for high blood pressure and the not so normal heart rate.  Once all that was under control I was able to continue with rehab.  Over the next three and a half weeks I seemed to improve a little each day.  I had my ups and downs, little setbacks here and there but over all things went very well.  The staff members at both hospitals were awesome and without them I don’t know if I would still be here today, but I am and I am sitting here with a mild pain in my shoulder and still quite numb from the balls of my feet to the tips of my toes.  I am currently working with a nutritionist and personal trainer to improve my overall health and each day I seem to feel a little better than the one before.  God is good!

 Saved by the blood,

 Donovan Sachs


2 thoughts on “Guillain-Barré (GBS) and Me

  1. Hi Donovan….Laura Fidler told me about what you have been going thru. I will start to pray for you on a reg. basis.

    Your mom and I have not been out for lunch in a long time.
    We have both been busy working full time and then our schedules don’t always match.

    I would like to stay in touch. I am not on facebook.

    If you receive this email and remember me, please email me back.

    Love, Joanne Pfeiffer

  2. Hi Donovan – My Dad was diagnosed with GBS AIDP back in Nov 2011. My dad is much better now and has started walking around for 5-10 minutes and also doing his routine things. His strength hasn’t returned though and balance still seems to be an issue. I was delighted to know that you know the Lord Jesus Christ and certainly God is good! Will certainly keep you in prayer.

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