Roger Byrne

First post: Mar 2, 2022 Latest post: Dec 5, 2022
Welcome to our CaringBridge website for Roger Byrne. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place about Roger’s Health Journey. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting it's really appreciated.

On the morning of Friday, February 4th Roger called 911 and his son Patrick. He was unable to stand or walk and he knew something was gravely wrong and different from back/knee discomfort that he has been managing. The wonderful firefighters and EMT’s from Vernon Hills Fire Department were extremely helpful and quickly got him to Advocate Condell Hospital in Libertyville. Cathy, was already at work at Hawthorn School, yet arrived at the hospital to wait with Roger in the ER. Over the course of 8 hours, Roger was assessed and taken for MRI’s and CT scans. While the day went on, in addition to paralysis of his legs and feet, he found it difficult move his hands, fingers and arms. A stroke was ruled out, yet his inability to move became increasingly alarming. During the time in the ER he tested positive for Covid-19. Roger had tested positive for Covid-19 on January 21st yet had been recovered at this point when he was admitted to the hospital, and his symptoms were mild. (This health journey is not about Covid-19 and Rog is fully vaccinated and boosted and a proponent of vaccinations.)

On the evening of Friday, February 4th Roger was admitted to a Covid floor at Condell. This was very difficult because at this point there was no determination of why Roger had almost full body paralysis, and limited the family from being with him or at the hospital. Over the course of the weekend the doctors continued to run scans and did start treating Roger for pneumonia. At one point the neurologist and doctors considered a laminectomy. This was suggested as a potential relief of pressure caused by existing spinal stenosis and herniated disks along his spine and neck. And as a possible solution to why he had no movement of his hands, arms, legs and feet. 

Initially, Roger was not receiving oxygen or of need of assistance breathing. He was unable to utilized his hands or fingers, as his mobility was significantly decreased. So a feeding tube was implemented. This is also the reason, once he went into the hospital he was unable to communicate with family and friends. Roger has not been able to use his hands since going into the hospital so he could not call or text. Condell was monitoring other vitals, and the pneumonia as well as trying to diagnose why he could not move. By Sunday, February 6th his breathing had been become increasingly more difficult, his Co2 levels high and he was receiving  oxygen. On Monday he was moved to the ICU and put on a ventilator.

By Monday, February 7th Cathy and the family, who had limited communication with Roger at this point because he could not use his hands/arms to use a phone, and was on a Covid floor were reaching out to Roger’s doctors who had recently seen him for his issues with his back, legs and knees. They were also talking with family friends who are nurses and sharing his loss of movement. Guillain-Barre Syndrome a rare autoimmune disease was mentioned. At the point Roger was moved to the ICU and ventilated everyone was extremely distressed and Cathy asked about Guillain-Barre and the doctors at Condell had also come to that conclusion and they were in action fast to start Plasmapheresis. Plasmapheresis treats autoimmune diseases, toxins in the blood, and neurological diseases. 

On Tuesday, February 8th the family got word that Roger had responded to the first plasma treatment, and that he’d have a long journey to recovery. The doctor explained he’d have 5-7 total Plasma treatments. The treatments are much like dialysis and take up to three hours. Roger remained on a ventilator. Guillain-Barre is a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. The condition may be triggered by an acute bacterial or viral infection. It damages the nerves protective covering know as myelin sheath. The damage prevents nerves from transmitting signals to the brain causing numbness, weakness and paralysis. It is critical and very difficult to diagnosis.

On Wednesday, February 9th the family was able to zoom with Roger, and it was the first time since February 4th they had seen him. Although on a ventilator and only able to move his head, it was a huge relief to video with him in the ICU.

From this point on, every other day he was given the plasma treatments. He remained on the ventilator. At one point his body forced it out and the family got to hear whispers for the first time in weeks. During zoom meetings he would try to move eye brows, his head and shrug his shoulders. The ventilator went back in and Roger remained in the ICU and the family zoomed and got updates over the phone from the hospital, as he still tested positive for Covid. 

On Tuesday, February 22nd Roger underwent a tracheotomy and a feeding tube was inserted into his stomach. On Wednesday, February 23rd he was moved out of the ICU, and late in the day on Friday, February 25th he was moved to AMITA Holy Family in Des Plains for acute respiratory therapy.

The doctors, nurses and staff at Condell gave Roger extraordinary care and attention. Especially, since the family was restricted to visit. We are eternally grateful to their care and diagnosing Roger with Guillain-Barre.

On Saturday, February 26th Cathy was able to visit Roger for the first time. A long awaited visit, and extremely emotional. Patrick and Erin, Roger’s children visited on Sunday, February 27th. Roger is beginning the weaning process from ventilation and receiving some OT and PT. He can not talk, yet the family is getting better at lip reading. He can lift his arms up and down, and lightly squeeze his hands. A much welcomed improvement to his family that is so glad they can see him and hold his hands.

The longterm plan is for Roger to be moved to Shirley Ryan Ability lab where he will undergo rehabilitation to walk and regain movement. 

We will update this page, and appreciate everyone’s positivity as Roger fights this autoimmune. As he regains strength and his ability to talk he will look forward to zoom meetings and phone calls from friends. Right now it’s two visitors a day, and the family is rotating in and out. As he progresses, we will share how others can visit him, as we know he would love the company.

We want to mention our appreciation to Deacon Nora from St. Mary of Vernon, who was one of the only visitors Roger had while at Condell, as well as Keith Hunt who miraculously saw Roger before he was moved to the ICU. As well as Dr. David Oppenheim. Receiving information was challenging due to Covid and knowing Roger was alone battling this was emotionally distressing to the family who loves Roger so much, so having a few people see him was a lifeline of sorts. We are encouraged by his slow but steady progress and grateful for the direct contact with Roger now that he is out of the ICU. The family has been meeting with the unbelievable staff at Holy Family and he is receiving excellent care. 

Please hold Roger in your thoughts and prayers. He’s fighting and can use encouragement, cheerleading and support. 
With love,
Cathy, Erin, and Patrick