Back on His Feet Again
The story of Ryan McNeice

"St. Luke’s is miraculous. They are phenomenal," he said. "I just couldn’t say enough positive things about St. Luke’s."

Just a couple weeks earlier McNeice, who’d run a half marathon the previous summer, noticed he didn’t have normal dexterity in his hands while typing. By the end of the day his legs felt weak and he had trouble stepping onto the curb.

"I knew something was wrong," said McNeice. He had Guillain Barre syndrome, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body’s nervous system, damaging the nerves and causing tingling, weakness and paralysis. Within days his arms and legs were completely paralyzed. He couldn’t walk, get out of bed or lift a fork to feed himself.

After receiving treatment for the disorder at the University of Washington Medical Center, McNeice was ready to begin the hard work of recovery. He went straight to St. Luke’s.

"I couldn’t be more thankful for the people that I worked with," he said, describing how each staff member made the hard work of recovery a positive experience.

"I’m so amazed how they got it all together, all the pieces of the package from janitorial and maintenance, to nurses, cafeteria staff, physical therapists and Dr. Varga," he said. "They just have a good sense about them, knowing where the patient is mentally and physically."

Working daily with his therapy team, McNeice said he constantly improved and met many encouraging milestones as his body relearned how to do everything from getting out of bed to brushing his teeth unassisted.

One of McNeice’s favorite therapies was in the pool. He said it made him feel liberated. As McNeice relearned how to walk he progressed from the pool to parallel bars to a walker. "Being able to walk in the pool was a milestone, because you think, ‘I can do this again.’"

McNeice also made significant fine motor improvements, experiencing victory when he could take the cap off toothpaste and brush his own teeth and when he could shower and shave.

In less than two weeks he’d improved enough to go home and now you’d never know he was ever paralyzed.

"I wish I could relive, from a positive attitude standpoint, my last day at St. Luke’s," he said. "I was able to dress myself…I walked out. I have extreme gratitude for all of the people at St. Luke’s."

 

 

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