Gail Quam

First post: Feb 26, 2018 Latest post: Apr 27, 2018
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Gail went in to the Methodist Hospital Emergency Room on Saturday morning, 2/17. For a few days prior, she had experienced excruciating upper back pain between her shoulder blades, which had prevented her from more than 2 hours of sleep each night. However, the other piece that pressed the issue to seeking medical help was that she then started to experience symptoms of numbness in her hands and feet. The numbness in her feet started on Thursday, 2/15, the by Friday had moved into her hands. Due to the absence of feeling in her feet, her mobility was unstable. She fell down the last few steps of the stairs at home, and that was the last straw. They cancelled their trip to Arizona..and instead went to the ER.

Through blood tests, the ER  doctors quickly ruled out some of the majorly bad stuff, like a stroke or diabetes. They also do not believe that her back pain and the numbness in the extremities are related. They liked that her numbness was evenly distributed between both sides of her body - the left and right side were nearly identical. At this point, the area of numbness reached to a few inches above her ankle and just above her wrists. Since her glucose and electrolytes levels were normal, they recommended that she go home and see her primary care physician, who would more than likely refer her to a neurologist for further testing.

On Monday, 2/19, she went to see her primary care physician, who then immediately referred her back to Methodist Hospital to be admitted and begin a battery of tests. Since then, it has been a waiting game as the doctors methodically run different tests to try to rule out theories and pinpoint a diagnosis. She has had 3 MIR scans - upper back, neck, brain - all checking out OK. They did find a narrowing of her spine in the neck. It appears to be the beginning stages of bulging disc, between her C7 and T1 vertebrae. However, they still do not think it's related to the numbness as no nerves appear to be pinched. She's also had a lot of blood-work done thus far. All bodily function levels are normal. She also had two spinal tap attempts, but they were unusable because they were contaminated with blood. It's common for them to hit blood vessels during the procedure. Unfortunately, she will have to wait a full week to get another spinal tap. The body needs time to replenish the fluid in the spinal column.

For now, the following has been ruled out: Diabetes, Stroke, Brain Tumor, Multiple Sclerosis, Pinched Nerve, Lyme Disease, Thyroid Disorders, Zika Virus, Kidney Dysfunction.

The doctors are stumped. The leading theory is Guiallain-Barre Syndrome (a.k.a. GBS). It is a rare auto-immune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Although she has some of the common GBS symptoms, we are missing pieces to the puzzle that we need before we reach a diagnosis - primarily the spinal tap results.

Because her vitals are stable, and we are in a sort of "holding pattern" until more tests can be run, they recommended that she move to a rehab facility. She was discharged from Methodist Hospital on Saturday, 2/24. She will be at Presbyterian Homes in Spring Park for at least 3-4 days. There, she can receive physical and occupational therapy to strengthen her body. She cannot walk on her own. When she does walk using a walker, she does not have much control over her legs. Her toes point in towards each other and she often trips over her own feet. Her legs are weak and shaky. She also has difficulty holding things in her hands, and writing with a pen or pencil is almost impossible at this point. At the rehab center, in addition to physical and occupational therapy, they can also help manage her back and nerve pain. And hopefully she will finally get some sleep!

We love you all and thank you for your thoughts and prayers. The outpouring of support and love has been incredible. We will keep you posted on all major updates as this unfolds.