My father, Kirk M. Campbell, looked forward to July 4 th week for over a year. We were all supposed to have a great family vacation filled with water activities, fireworks, and boating at beautiful Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia (out family’s vacation destination for close to 40 years now). Instead, my father was confronted with the fight of a lifetime.
On Saturday, July 1 st, he thought he was coming down with a chest cold and said he would “quarantine” himself for a few days so that he wouldn’t spread the illness to the rest of the family, most notably my grandparents.
On Sunday Dad slept all day. Late Sunday evening he woke up to extreme perspiration. At this point we thought that his fever broke and he would now start to feel better.
Monday Dad said he was feeling a little better, but complained of numbness and pins and needles in his fingers and toes.
Tuesday, July 4, Dad slept all day again and woke up just long enough to visit with the family during out annual July 4 th party. He went to bed before the fireworks had even started complaining of dizziness.
Wednesday, Dad’s hands and feet were numb and he was unsteady on his feet. Wednesday night he stumbled in the hallway and could not get up. We took him to the emergency room in Rocky Mt., Va. The doctor realizing more extensive testing was needed, he was transferred to a hospital in Salem, Va.
By Thursday morning, a neurologist was consulted and made the devastating diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. For those who do not know what Guillain-Barre is (which is most of us), it is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the peripheral nerves resulting in temporary paralysis. The prognosis is positive for my father since the disease was diagnosed in a rapid fashion. It was decided he would undergo IV immunoglobulin treatments to attempt to treat the disease. He went through one cycle of IVIG (5 days) before his neurologist decided it was not enough. By this point my father could no longer walk, hold himself up in bed, or really perform any meaningful movements.
The hospital in Salem, Va does not have the capability to treat my father with the preferred method of treatment for Guillain-Barre, which is plasmapheresis, a process similar to dialysis. It was then decided that Dad would be transferred to the hospital at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
As of today, July 25, Dad has undergone a tracheotomy
because he can no longer breathe on his own; however, he can respond to commands by shaking his head and blinking his eyes. The treatment for this disease is prolonged, as one can imagine based on his current condition. The general prognosis is that he will be in the hospital for at least the next few months undergoing
treatment. Once he is stable, he will then need to be transferred to the rehabilitation facility for another few months where he will learn how to walk, write, speak, etc. all over again.
The issue at hand, in addition to the devastating illness and the issues it may cause, is that my father has an insurance policy that will cover his stay in the hospital but zero of his rehabilitation. In addition to this, my stepmother must travel to and from Virginia and Florida on a periodic basis so that she may continue to work. As you can imagine, the cost of the travel and rehabilitation are daunting.
Any donation, whether monetary or something else, would be greatly appreciated by my entire family.
We are doing everything we can to rally around my Dad, but the fact of the matter is that we are all overwhelmed by everything that is taking place.
Please do what you can to help my family through this difficult time so that when my Dad finally recovers he is not overburdened with insurmountable bills.
Thank you for the time you have taken reading this and remember to hold everyone in your family a little bit closer when you see them next. Devastating illnesses like this unfortunately are always peeking around the corner. God Bless!
Very Respectfully Yours,