CIDPUSA.ORG autoimmune diseases
Athelete gets GBS
By Kendall S. Cable,
You would never guess by watching Kelsey Tschanen walk that, on June 30, 2001, she was paralyzed from the chest down due to a virus that attacked her nerves."I had woke up that morning and my legs kind of felt like they were asleep," she recalled. "I really didn't think much of it because I just woke up. So, I got all of my clothes on and we went to the game.
"We were warming up and I just fell. I don't know why. I just fell and couldn't get back up.
"Me and my friends were sort of laughing about it. The coaches came over and helped me to the bench. They thought it was low blood sugar."
Kelsey had a long week, having played four games, including one the night before. Her mother, Michelle, initially chalked her condition up to fatigue.
But then, she took Kelsey to the emergency room where they ran tests.
It was determined Kelsey had one of two possible diseases: Guillain-Barre SyndromeGBS is an auto-immune disease that generally attacks the nerves from the brain to the spinal cord.
Transverse myelitis, also an auto-immune disease, was the other possibility as it causes swelling in the spinal cord, blocking signals from the spine to the muscles.
Life Flight took Kelsey to Toledo St. Vincent's Hospital where more tests, such as a lumbar puncture, were completed.
Michelle was informed of the possibility that Kelsey's lungs might become paralyzed at some point, but she would recover. To help guard against this, immune globulins (which shorten GBS) and corticosteroids were given to aid her immune system.
Within the four hours she had noticed her legs were numb, Kelsey now had no feeling up to her chest.
"They were trying to prepare her if she didn't recover how to be independent and functional," explained Michelle. "So they were teaching her how to transfer to the wheelchair. She'd go to occupational therapy and learn how to get in and out of the car. She was getting mad at them, 'I am going to get better. Don't do this to me, I am going to get better.'"
Kelsey did get better. Now a freshman who actively participates on Mohawk's junior varsity basketball, volleyball and track teams, she has improved every year, according to Michelle.
"I still have a little bit of a limp but there is not very much pain, just weakness," Kelsey explained.
Michelle said the only time she can see Kelsey has had a problem at all is when she is really trying hard on the basketball court.
"The whole time when she was recovering, her right leg was slower to respond," Michelle described. "The left side was pretty strong. The right leg is still weaker now.
"She can't stand on her tip-toes. She has to wear a brace when she plays basketball.
"Sometimes, her ankle just kind of gives out. She doesn't know when it is going to happen. It just happens.
This limp has not stopped Kelsey. She said the conditions as a whole would not have stopped her anyway.
"To me, it wasn't anything," Kelsey recalled. "I had been in the hospital to have my tonsils out. For me, it was something like that.
"They said that I didn't see the seriousness of it. To me, it really didn't matter. You weren't going to keep me from playing my basketball and sports if you wanted to."