Guillain Barre Syndrome – my experiences.


David Russell

Page 1

Sunday January 6th 2002


“we’re off then” I said as I got up from the couch. My wife, Ann, looked up and said “No we are still in the harbour”. I looked out of the windows and sure enough we were stationary, in the harbour. “I could have sworn it felt we were moving”, I said, “must have been a lorry or something coming on”.

That was the first indication that something, somewhere, was not quite right. I dismissed it out of my mind and concentrated on the menu. We were in the club lounge of the roll on roll off ferry taking us, and our kitchen, to Ireland. We had driven, in convoy, for about 400 miles, me driving a friends Transit van, and Ann driving our pick-up. The journey had not been particularly arduous but we were ready for a rest. The three and a half hour crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare, Ireland was welcome. There was a light wind but nothing that was going to worry us.

The meal was good, and the crossing uneventful. The slight roll of the ship masked any further dizzy feelings I might have experienced.  When we arrived in Rosslare it was early evening. The sun had gone down a couple of hours ago. I navigated the steps down to the vehicle deck, got into the van and drove off without a hitch. A brief discussion with a friendly customs and excise officer about the contents of the van, and we drove out of the docks on our way to Scart.

Scart was where we were building our new house. It is a tiny hamlet of four houses including ours, about half a mile outside the small town of Kildorrery in County Cork. Our love affair with Ireland began with a weekend in Dublin. The friendliness of people and their culture just fitted us. We immediately felt comfortable. I was a young 61 and retirement, or semi-retirement, was something I had started to think about. We found our dream plot of land while visiting family in north Cork, and the idea of building our own house didn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Planning permission had not been easy but now we were on the last stages of the project. The house structure was built. The finishing trades were now at work and the kitchen was nearly ready to receive furniture and fittings.

We arrived at Eleanor and Camerons’ house shortly after 9.30 that evening. After the usual welcoming and unpacking preambles, and knowing that Cameron needed very little encouragement, I suggested a visit to the local pub for a pint. I drove the half a mile into Kildorrery so that I would be able to control the time of leaving. I had no intention of this developing into a ‘session’. Not tonight anyway. The pub was busy. We supped our Guinness and discussed the world. I was standing, as there were no seats. I did not experience any dizziness and felt fine, if a bit tired. We left the pub, and I drove back, no problems. Ann and Eleanor had opened a bottle of wine, and were sitting in front of a lovely open fire. I sat down, perhaps a bit heavier than I intended, and poured myself a glass. The wine tasted good, and out of habit, I attempted to read the wine description on the bottle. Here I had a problem. It was blurred and there were two images, one slightly higher and offset to the left. It was very difficult to read any of it. I still did not think anything major was wrong. I attributed my slight slurring, as did everyone else, on too much alcohol, not enough food, and tiredness. The fact that I had really had very little to drink, one pint of Guinness and one glass of wine that day, did not click in my mind. I simply announced, “I can’t read this label so I must be more tired than I realise. I’m going to bed. Night all”. Ann followed shortly afterwards and we were soon both sound asleep.