Irv headed straight for the barn. It had been two weeks since he was rushed to the hospital, and it was finally time to see his horses again. Sugar, whom he raised from birth, saw Irv from the back pasture. She raced down neighing loudly and met Irv in the barn. The horse placed her head on Irv's shoulder as he hugged and rubbed her long neck.
For Sugar, Irv was gone for a long time. But in reality he returned home fairly quickly after being ill with a serious disorder called Guillain Barré syndrome that had paralyzed him 16 days earlier.
It happened overnight. Irv woke up from a sound sleep to find that he couldn't move. "It was insane," he says. "I was paralyzed." His wife called 9-1-1. Paramedics took Irv to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.
Medical staff swiftly diagnosed Guillain Barré syndrome, an uncommon disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. Weakness and numbness in the extremities quickly spreads, eventually paralyzing the whole body. Recovery can take anywhere from six weeks to 12 months or longer.
Thanks to the fast diagnosis, Irv was transferred from Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital to the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute to learn to use his limbs again. Physical therapists and occupational therapists first worked with Irv to get his legs and arms to move while he was bed-bound. He progressed to sitting up and standing and then working a wheelchair. This allowed Irv to get around the rehabilitation center to have meals in the dining room with other patients and to join some of the many activities, like playing Wii games and cards.
Irv quickly progressed from the wheelchair to a walker and was then discharged. He says the therapists, physicians and nurses at Sutter Rehabilitation Institute "are the greatest group ever. I really appreciate everything they did for me to help me recover." Irv is grateful for his rehabilitation treatment and for his quick return home. His faithful horse, Sugar, is very grateful, too.