There is very little in life that prepares you for such a life changing experience. I spent the later half of my twenties trying to figure out what I would be doing for my thirtieth birthday, never thinking I would be spending it in the ICU.
On August 24th I was admitted to the hospital for what the doctors thought was viral meningitis and told I would only be there through the weekend. After hallucinating, having my lungs collapse several times, being intubated, becoming paralyzed from the neck down and almost passing away more than once I was finally diagnosed with encephalitis from an unknown origin. Twenty seven different tests were done and all came back negative. I was tested for rabies, tuberculosis, polio and every known virus out there. Most of my time in the hospital was spent in isolation. Still to this day I am a mystery and will probably never know what almost killed me. I then developed a neurological disorder and was diagnosed with transverse myelitis which caused the paralysis. I spent nine weeks total in the hospital, only remembering the last half of my stay. My last three weeks were spent in inpatient rehab and I was discharged on October 26th with full function of my arms and hands but am still paralyzed from my abdomen down.
Before this nightmare happened I was a very healthy guy, this actually being my first time being admitted to the hospital. I was a fairly active person. Aside from working as a automotive technician five to six days per week, I regularly went for hikes and photo taking adventures with my girlfriend, Trista. I love to play sports and have played 15 years collectively of football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. Being born and raised in Santa Cruz I have grown to love the beach and can’t see myself moving very far away from it. I love to dance, run, drive, and swim, all things I can no longer enjoy.
Since starting with Dr. Zhu and his team I have felt the most confidence in regaining full mobility that I have felt since waking up in ICU fully paralyzed. I have made improvements every session and I am excited to return every time. I have only been going a little under a month and have already had some movement in my legs and also more and more sensation each day. After I leave my sessions my legs feel tight and tired, a feeling I am excited to have, a feeling I have missed. I feel that this is by far the most aggressive and appropriate rehabilitation I could provide myself with. I am still receiving outpatient physical and occupational therapy through the hospital but it is only once per week for barely an hour and I feel there is no progression. They work with me teaching me skills to “live” in a wheelchair and that is not a life I plan on living! I am willing to do whatever it takes to regain full movement and walk again and for me that is going to Dr Zhu five times per week! Dr Zhu estimates I may need one year of treatment. Although it is out of my financial means, I, along with my family and friends are doing all that we can to fundraise and continue my treatment. My insurance does not cover any of the expenses and with no income coming in, it is a challenge. Any amount you are able to donate would be more than appreciated!
I am very grateful that I am able to go to Dr Zhu and his team and thankful to my mother, Jane, who encouraged me to go. After reading through his website and seeing the “miracles” he has performed and then seeing my own progression I am confident I will be walking again in no time and doing the things I love to do once again! Thank You Dr Zhu for giving me the encouragement I need to get through this unbelievable time in my life!
A Mother's Appeal