West Nile Neurological Disease – Part 1 – Our Battle Begins

Are you intimate with one or more of life’s multitudinous pirates? Catastrophe. Illness. Accident. Sudden disability. Financial ruin. Severed relationships.

They specialize in surprise. They often attack when the little boats of our lives are in full sail, when the day is fine and the sky clear. When we least expect trouble. Suddenly, without warning, the life we knew is no more. Gone. Flipped upside down as easily as a donut in hot oil.

We’ve lived with a few pirates, my husband and I. The last batch entered our lives quietly a few years ago. It happened in an instant. We didn’t even notice their invasion at first. They arrived in the form of an unseen, unfelt, common summer occurrence. My husband got bit by a mosquito.

The mosquito, we know now, imported a virus onto the little boat of our lives. In the space of a few short days, my husband, Rick, then an active fifty-four year old clergyman, became cognitively disoriented and paralyzed in both legs and his left arm.

Doctors diagnosed him with a severe case of West Nile Neurological Disease (also called West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease). How ironic that the pirate that led the attack was no bigger than his baby fingernail.

After eleven days in ICU, and another almost three weeks on a regular ward, only moments of which he actually remembers, doctors transferred Rick to a rehab center two hours from home.

On a blue and gold September afternoon, I locked our front door behind me and followed the ambulance down the silver stream of highway, past ripening fields of wheat and barley, past herds of grazing cattle to a rehab centre in a nearby city. We stayed there for the next five months, my husband in a double ward room, and I in a rented hostel room right in the centre.

Though he’d already been in hospital for almost a month, it was in that rehab centre that we began learning about what it really means to do battle with the pirates of West Nile Neurological Disease.

We also learned something else: many of the strategies and tools we found helpful are common to all life’s difficulties, no matter the stripe of pirates-or monsters, or madmen, or beasts.

If you’re fighting pirates, be sure to read this entire article series–this is the first. If you’re not fighting pirates, read be sure to read this entire article series. Life can change with the suddenness of a summer squall. One day you’ll need the information you’ll find in one or more of them.

You’ve just read article one in the E-Zine series: West Nile Neurological Disease–Fighting Life’s Pirates.

Read the complete story of our West Nile journey in West Nile Diary, One Couple’s Triumph Over a Deadly Disease available on Amazon.

P.S. Wear repellent.

copyright 2010, by Kathleen Gibson.

If you copy, copy right, and for non-profit use only. Please include author credit, and a link to my website, below.

Kathleen Gibson is a Canadian author and newspaper columnist whose work has been published in global print and online media. Through articles, interviews and her book, West Nile Diary–One Couple’s Triumph Over a Deadly Disease, she and her husband, Rick, have raised the level of West Nile Disease awareness across North America. Together, they point others to the beautiful strength that comes from cultivating a solid faith in God. Kathleen’s latest book is Practice by Practice, The Art of Everyday Faith. More info at http://www.kathleengibson.ca

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