John's Recovery from Guillain-Barre

On the evening of February 21, 2017 I, with my three children, drove John, my husband, to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. When I drove John to the hospital he was unable to walk.  The symptoms began the day before (20th) with a mild pain to his upper thigh area (groin) and in his feet.  The pain continued on for several hours until he was unable to use his legs the following day.   

When we arrived at the hospital's emergency entrance (on the evening of the 21st) John was assisted by two hospital attendants. They lifted him out of my car and into a wheelchair where I registered him.  This all happened in less than 48 hours from the onset of the symptoms.  

 The following day the doctors ordered several tests on John including an MRI on his spine, CT scan of his entire abdomen and a Spinal Tap. The hospital's neurologist diagnosed him with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS); a very rare autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the nerves. The infectious disease doctor stated that the GBS was triggered by inhaling fecal matter during a search warrant of February 16, 2017 just days before John’s symptoms began. The disease had progressed from John's legs (leaving him unable to walk) and worked it's way up to his arms. John had lost much of his strength in both extremities as well as loss of motor functions.  John was treated with Immunoglobulin therapy for six days in hopes of preventing the attack on his respiratory system.  At one point during his hospital stay, his pulse dropped down to 36.

 John spent 10 days in the hospital for treatment for GBS but needed further treatment with Acute Rehabilitation. The hospital where John was being treated for GBS did not have facilities for the Acute Rehabilitation. John was consequently transferred out to John Hopkins Bayview Acute Rehabilitation where he is currently receiving treatment.  He is expected to stay there for approximately three weeks before he is able to come home and continue outpatient therapy.  Doctors at Johns Hopkins believe he will be out of work for the next year.

 The road to recovery for John is unknown. His neurologist has told us recovery is different for every individual.  Some patients may take a few months to recover and in extreme cases it may take years and having residual effects. In John's case we will have to wait and see.  John is a strong and determined individual.  He will give it his all to return to a normal life to his family and job.

John is a Baltimore City, MD Police Sergeant.  He has been on the force for 16 years and has been exposed to many hazardous conditions.  One of those conditions that John has recently been exposed to is his exposure to rat feces and dead animal carcasses. Constant raids in insanitary conditions of many of the homes raided have exposed John to a very high level of bacteria. His neurologist and infectious disease doctor at the hospital where he was initially treated told him this. They also stated that rat fecal matter and animal urine carry the bacteria that is known to cause GBS John's exposure to these conditions put him at a high risk for GBS.

Although John is on workman's compensation there are many expenses he will not be able to handle.  Being that John is the sole provider of the family his not being able to work will surly put a strain on the family’s finances. We do not know how long John will be out of work. He has been told there will be additional home rehabilitation, bathroom supplements (shower handles etc.,) medication or any other unforeseen medical expenses. There will also be a substantial loss of income that supplements his base pay and the family heavily relies on.

John is a second generation police officer.  John’s father was a police officer in the city for several years before being shot three times and ultimately having to retire.  It is by the grace of God that has spared John from this grave disease and has given him good doctors and facilities to recover. We pray for his fast healing and your prayers.         


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Fanoula Stylianos Burns
Abingdon, MD

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