Archive for Friday, January 26, 2007

Mother of four battles rare illness

January 26, 2007


— Lyn McMahon was diagnosed with a rare condition in October, and since then the life of the young mother of four has changed drastically.

McMahon, of Bonner Springs, has Guillian-Barre syndrome. The cause is unknown and strikes about 1 out of every 100,000 people. The condition causes weakness and even paralysis of some muscles.

McMahon's symptoms started with a numbing of her hands and feet. One morning, after taking a bath, she couldn't get out of the tub. When she finally succeeded, she fell down.

Her 4-year-old daughter, Eva, found her at 6 a.m. on the bathroom floor.

McMahon said the only symptom she'd had before that was some numbness in her hands and feet, which she thought was due to carpal tunnel syndrome, something she'd had when she was pregnant.

Within two hours she couldn't move at all, and she was taken to an intensive-care unit. She stayed there for two and a half weeks, then in acute care for one week, then rehabilitation after that.

Though McMahon has health insurance, it only goes so far. McMahon's care is "extremely expensive," she said. Her insurance company doesn't want to continue paying for $30,000 monthly intravenous treatments she receives.

Her insurance will cover 13 visits each for occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy.

The speech therapy is necessary, McMahon said, because she has lost some control over her facial muscles. That includes her eyes, for which she is taking medication to ensure she can continue to blink.

She uses a walker to move around the house, and she said it's "a lot of pain getting up and down."

Lyn McMahon has been diagnosed with a rare condition called Guillian-Barre syndrome, which causes weakness and paralysis of some muscles.

Lyn McMahon has been diagnosed with a rare condition called Guillian-Barre syndrome, which causes weakness and paralysis of some muscles.

"Most people recover within a year," she said. "That's what they're hoping for, but I don't know if I'll ever."

McMahon said the pain of her condition is the worst part, and "it just came out of nowhere."

Then there's also the not knowing, she said.

"There's not a lot of research on the syndrome," she said.

McMahon had to quit her part-time job and needs help caring for her two youngest children, ages 4 and 3.

Her mother, Beverly Tumberger, has been helping with that, and her neighbors have been assisting the family a lot too, she said.

"I was just overwhelmed by everything everyone's done," McMahon said.

How to help

Neighbors of Lyn McMahon, who has Guillian-Barre syndrome, are having a chili dinner fundraiser to help pay for medical costs.

The event will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bonner Springs United Methodist Church, 425 W. Morse. A donation of $5 per person or $20 per family is suggested.

For more information, call Kelly Fehlhafer at (913) 441-0634.


LeAnne Stowe 11 years, 3 months ago

Hey Lynn,

Keep positive thoughts going when you can. I was struck down by Guillian Barre at 27. After six months of physical therapy I was almost back to normal. Then a year later only a few residual affects.

The best thing you can do for your immune system is to think good thoughts and rest alot. I know that's hard with kids. Your mind isn't tired, but your body is.

In my experience, it takes the longest for the eyes to recover. I think it was a long time before I could take a shower without getting water in my eyes.

Most people have no idea what this feels like -- to go from normal to nothing in a short time.

Annie OP KS 42

KS 11 years, 3 months ago

Lyn and Annie, I wish you the best. I saw my sister go thru this several years ago. Her case was very bad. She was totally paralyzed from the neck down for months. Had to put in a trach for her to breathe. Her immune system just went down hill. Not being a doctor and not having gone thru this myself, I could only suggest that you do what you can to improve your immune system. You will need it later on. My sister later died but "NOT" from Guillian Barre. Don't want to scare anyone about that, but she had very little immunity in her system to fight other issues later. Lyn, please do what you can to take care of yourself. Your children need you. Best of luck to you gals. You are not alone in this fight.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 3 months ago

wow, what a terrifying disease at the very start.

hope every day you find pleasure and satisfaction in what you are able to do, and try not to sweat over what you can't do, just leave that. hang in there, hope it will improve as expected.

14all41 11 years, 3 months ago

My heart goes out to you ladies! Though I've not experienced your plight personally, my father contracted Guillian-Barre when he was 17 - his arms and legs were completely paralyzed. He'll be 80 next month. Though he's walked with a slight limp since contracting the disease all other physical limitations went away after about 9 months (at that time they hospitalized you the entire time). So, hang in there ladies! My father can testify that it gets better with time. Best of luck in a quick and complete recovery.

kg52 11 years, 3 months ago

I wish you all the very best. However, I didn't think this was so rare a disease as I have heard of it many times before as a medical secretary. I guess the severity probably differs. I certainly wish you all a full recovery. Here is another example of whey we need a national health care plan of some kind - to cover what commercial insurance won't - there should be no limits of coverage for an illness such as this - if you are sick you are sick - period!!!

LeAnne Stowe 11 years, 3 months ago

When I got it 15 years ago, I think the statistic was 1 in 300,000. three people from my hometown got it within a year. the other two were men. One is fine. One had a relapse later in life (stressed his body) and spent a year in the hospital (topeka). Me, I have a different autoimmune challenge at present, but live every day the very best I can.

Wonder what causes GBS? I don't believe they yet know. But my docs have always said "no flu shots" and you'll never be asked to give blood again!


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