An Aldergrove man who was paralyzed from the onset of a rare, neurological condition after battling what is suspected to be the flu has now regained some movement.
Matt Reisig was rushed to Peace Arch Hospital on March 1, after tingling in his legs progressed to a complete collapse onto the floor.
Initially, it seemed that 31-year-old Reisig “had the flu just like the rest of his family,” said Cara Parks, an aunt of the family.
Upon arrival at the ER, however, Reisig was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
In the following two weeks, Reisig lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder, and face movements including nodding, eye rolling, and side-to-side head motions which he used to communicate with his wife, Ashley.
Reisig also had to be intubated in order to breathe because of lost pulmonary function.
On Sunday, Matt underwent a tracheostomy procedure at Surrey Memorial Hospital in order to hopefully shorten the duration of mechanical ventilation.
“He’s trying to mouth words to me but his mouth is a little weak, since it’s had a tube in it for over three weeks. His jaw is shaky as he re-teaches it to open and close,” Ashley explained.
She has been by his side the entire time in hospital, with their one-year-old daughter Ayla.
The young father is now in “stable” condition, according to doctors, and during one assessment with a nurse on March 25, Reisig was able to move his forearm. A day earlier, on March 24, his wife reported that he was even able to move his hand.
“Matt can feel a different back muscle and he can lift his head up off of his pillow. He’s also started feeling tingling pain in his hands and feet… it can mean that the nerves are starting to regenerate so I’m hoping that’s the case,” Ashley said.
Reisig’s progress, albeit small, is a sign of hope for the family – who wants to raise awareness about GBS – a mysterious inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks myelin sheath surrounding nerve cell axons instead of the virus the body is sick with, according to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
Such nerve damage inhibits Reisig’s muscles from being able to carry out their normal functions.
“Matt doesn’t feel better yet but he trusts me when I tell him that I can see improvements,” Ashley told the Aldergrove Star. “Now that I see improvements I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
GBS is said to cause adverse effects until the disease peaks at up to four weeks, before plateauing, according to Parks. Reisig is currently at the beginning of week five.
There is no known cause for the condition.