Patient Stories

Gary Howard

 In July of 2007, at the age of 32, I became ill with a “cold” which led to a sinus infection. I had intestinal issues which led to having green bowel movements. I finally went to go to see a doctor and he prescribed a “very strong” antibiotic. The next weekend I was preaching at church and was sweating very bad and my feet felt weird. The next morning I was playing with my daughter on the living room floor and could not get up; we looked in the phone book for a doctor alphabetically and made an appointment. The doctor knew right away I had GBS just by the way I was walking and wrote up a list of tests and I then was admitted to the hospital. Within a couple days I went from using a walker to just go use the restroom to not being able to walk at all. I soon became paralyzed from the neck down and had bell palsy. The paralysis affected my speech (which frightened me as a preacher) and my swallowing as well. After two weeks in the hospital I went to the therapy portion of the hospital where I spent another two weeks. Since I was not making any progress, my health insurance had me admitted to a skilled nursing home which was fortunately on the same campus as the hospital. I spent one month in the nursing home undergoing physical, occupational, and speech therapy. My speech therapist had me go and preach one day to the residents of the nursing home as therapy for my speech. Well that day my speech came back miraculously and when she asked the physical therapist how that happened he said: “that was the Holy Spirit”. I then started making slow progress through therapy and hard work. In late November of 2007 I finally went home after nearly three months away from home. I was able to walk into my home with a walker. I am beyond thankfulness for my hero and dad Jim Howard who stayed in the hospital with me for about a month and a half and went beyond familial duties as he cared for me physically and emotionally. In April of 2008 I ran a 5K and got third place in my age division. That summer I hiked the highest mountain in Idaho in a day. Today I live with residual nerve damage in my feet and fight fatigue, but I’m able to exercise daily, rockhound, practice karate (brown belt), work as a full-time pastor, I earned my doctorate, and most important I can serve my family. I rest in what the Apostle Paul wrote: “when I am weak then I am strong” (because God is then strong through me). My condition helps me to work towards humility and dependent on God’s strength for the tasks ahead of me.