Daves Battle Against Guillain Barre

On September 10, 2014 Dave Peterson started to have numbness and tingling in his extremities.  Being a paramedic, he called 911 thinking he was possibly having a heart attack.  Dave was transported to the hospital in Nevada, IA.  Within hours, his speech became very low and then turned to silence.  In addition to his voice, he also lost the ability to move, within a matter of hours he had become completely paralyzed.  Realizing that he needed more specialized care, he was transferred to Mary Greeley Hospital’s ICCU unit in Ames, IA. 

After undergoing an extreme amount of testing, the doctors came to the conclusion that Dave had a very rare syndrome called Guillain-Barre.  Guillain-Barre is a syndrome in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.  It starts as weakness and tingling in your extremities and can quickly spread eventually paralyzing the whole body.  The exact cause of Guillain-Barre is unknown and can vary in severity for each person.  He was paralyzed, could not speak, could not eat, and eventually could not even breathe on his own, was put on a ventilator and later had to have a tracheotomy.  In Dave’s case, the GBS specialist at Iowa City Hospital (where he was transferred to after just over a week at Mary Greeley) said that on a scale of severity from 1-10, 10 being the worst he had ever seen, Dave was an 11.   

Once, Dave’s condition had stabilized he was moved, once again, to a long term acute care facility in Des Moines, IA.  Around Thanksgiving he regained his ability to speak and has been slowly improving ever since.  He can now, almost, make a fist; eat and breathe on his own; lift his arms; and is regaining some sensation in his legs.  He is now in a rehab facility in Story City, IA.   Although he is improving more and more every day he still has a very long road ahead of him.  They say that it can take 1-3 years to fully recover from this, and that a full recovery does not always happen.  We are very hopeful that Dave will, indeed, make a full recovery, it is still unknown if he will ever be able to return to work.

Through all of this very trying time for Dave and his body, it has also been very taxing on his wife, Hazel.  Hazel has had to use all of her vacation and sick leave from work to be by her husband’s side.  Also, while Dave was in Iowa City Hospital for over a month, Hazel traveled the 2 ½ hour trip, one way, at least 4 times per week. Chris, their daughter, alternated the other days.

Although Dave is now on the road to recovery, the medical bills are starting to come in and there is the possibility that their home may have to be made handicap accessible.  Any donation that you can give Dave and Hazel to help them through this time would be greatly appreciated.  Please share Dave’s story with family and friends.

The family of Dave and Hazel Peterson would like to thank each and every one of you for your help and support.
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Organizer

Julie Griffith Peterson 
Organizer
Zearing, IA
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