Michael Perry recently retired as the director of operations for a transportation company. Michael enjoyed his newfound free time, spending time with his grandkids, playing basketball, golfing, and going to church.
One Monday morning, Michael experienced a sudden onset of leg soreness that caught him by surprise. “It was severe and wasn’t like any other soreness I had felt. And it wasn’t muscle.” Within a few hours, Michael couldn’t stand, and by mid-afternoon, he couldn’t move his legs. “By 4 pm, I was essentially paralyzed from the waist down. I was in bed and spent all day there.”
The next day, Michael’s dad came over and immediately called 911. Michael was transported to IU Health Bedford before being referred to a specialist at IU Health Bloomington. “The doctor spent time with me and was able to diagnose me very quickly,” Michael recalled. “She knew exactly what was wrong with me and was able to get treatment started pretty quickly.”
Michael had Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.
“I went through multiple rounds of IVIG, but three days later, I could tell it was getting worse, and it started affecting my breathing.” Fortunately, Michael’s doctors prepared him for such a situation. “They had warned me about this and told me not to wait to tell them if I started struggling to breathe. I told them right away, and that is when I had to be intubated and put on a ventilator.”
Michael doesn’t remember anything for the next eleven days when doctors removed him from the ventilator. “After coming off the vent, I was groggy. I felt confused, but I was happy to be alive.” A few days later, on his birthday, Michael began breathing entirely on his own again. “I remember it was hard to talk, and my voice was very deep.”
The following day, Michael began therapy. “Eric, my PT, and John, my OT, at IU Bloomington, were great. They started the process for me.” However, the process proved challenging. “My progress at first was slow. Initially, they thought I would need a long-term acute care hospital. I was referred to one, but I wasn’t medically stable yet to go there. So I continued therapy and continued with very slow progress.” Then, Michael was referred to Bloomington Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation. “I was so happy because this place was close to home.”
Michael arrived at BRRH late one evening. “It had been a long day, but Carmelita, my patient care tech, was a welcoming and warm person,” he recalled. “She made me feel comfortable from the beginning. She got me settled in my room with the help of nursing. She made sure to get me some food, and from that point, I knew I was in the right place. Everyone was pleasant and professional and very knowledgeable.”
When he arrived, Michael only had the use of his left foot. “The staff here was creative and set up a call light for me so I could call nurses by pointing toes on my left foot.”
Considering his recovery, Michael gives credit to the staff at BRRH for their impact. “Kandace, my PT, and Claire, my OT, were great. They were so knowledgeable, they knew when to push me, and they knew when to give me a rest. They always had great attitudes, they were great motivators, and I was willing to do the exercises they gave me. They were not the only ones, though. My nurses, PCTs, dietitians, food services, and the other therapists. Also, Dr. Dugan and Dr. Quraishi were always polite and professional. Specifically, I want to recognize Tamara, Jessica, Emma, Chrissy, Jennifer, Carmelita, Claire, Kandace, Dr. Dugan, and Dr. Quraishi.”
Early on, Michael set a goal to walk out of the hospital when he discharged. “It was a long shot, and I knew it, but I was making steady progress.” So he drew on his family for motivation, including his father and grandkids. “Initially, I was just happy to be alive. But now, I want to get back to my baseline. I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied being paralyzed or partially paralyzed, so I listened to my therapists and nurses and pushed myself when I could.”
Today, Michael looks forward to what the future has in store. “I am most excited about going to the park with my grandkids, cooking, being independent, and driving again.”
“I want everyone to know that I would recommend this place to anyone. If you need inpatient or outpatient rehab, I would strongly recommend Bloomington Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without them.”