CIDP patient makes great strides at HealthSouth Alexandria
Brad Starnes, 33 of Alexandria, Louisiana, started having what he assumed was nicotine withdrawal as his dry mouth and inconsistent sleep patterns are typical side effects. Then, he began experiencing loss of appetite and the ability to sit and stand which eventually led to his roommates finding him collapsed on the floor in an unconscious state.
Brad was rushed to the emergency room where he was intubated and had a blood sugar count above 1,200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) when a normal blood sugar is under 100 mg/dl.
“My blood had syruped,” said Brad. “I was dead from the neck down.”
He was not expected to survive and remained in an unconscious state in the hospital for 22 days. It was determined he had developed thyroid cancer and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a disorder of the nervous system characterized by progressive weakness and impaired function in the legs and arms.
Surgeons removed the thyroid which miraculously began giving him back small amounts of movement. The intensive care unit physician told Brad he should enter an inpatient rehabilitation hospital as soon as possible to make the most of his recovery.
Brad came to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Alexandria in Louisiana not able to do much of anything on his own; however, he set personal goals of being at least somewhat independent again and wanted to get well enough to be released from hospital care.
“I just wanted to be me again,” he said.
Over the next 77 days, Brad worked with a team of speech-language, occupational and physical therapists; nurses; a dietitian; case managers; social workers; and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician* to reach those goals. He worked on building strength, range of motion, standing, walking and swallowing exercises which would graduate him from getting his nutrition from a feeding tube to eating real food again.
For someone who enjoys cooking, being able to eat solid food again was a huge step in his progress and independence. To celebrate him being removed from tube feeding, the hospital chef created Brad special treats to enjoy. Staff also celebrated Brad’s huge accomplishment of walking 750 feet around the gym with a walker.
Now back at home and continuously working toward other goals, Brad wants to regain more function of his hands so he can return to his job, cook for himself and play video games with his friends. He is keeping his mind set on his goals as well as an optimistic attitude.
“The only one who can keep you from getting better is yourself,” said Brad.
*The hospital provides access to independent physicians.