Patient Stories

Lowell Stoltzfus

May 21, l991 began like most other days on the farm.  My brother Tim and I farmed.  We milked 120 cows and farmed 1500 acres – corn, beans, and alfalfa.  We needed some alfalfa sod to put late corn in.  I needed to hook up the hydraulics on the plow to the tractor and I didn’t have the strength to do that.  My fingers and arms just wouldn’t work.  I got Tim to hook up the hydraulics.  Tim wondered what was wrong with me.  It took me about three hours to plow the patch of alfalfa and when I came home and tried to get out of the tractor I could hardly walk.  I crawled to the house and told my wife, Char, to call the family doctor, Dr. Boyts to report my situation.  He said to come right in.  It was about 9:00 and I needed a wheel chair to go into his office.  Dr. Boyts immediately said it was Guillain Barre and I needed to go straight to the hospital.  I didn’t think that was necessary – I was a tough farmer!  His response was- if you don’t go now I will get an ambulance here now to take you.  I began my hospitalization in Goshen Hospital and the next morning I was totally paralyzed up to my neck and was sent to Parkview Hospital in Ft. Wayne, an hour drive, by ambulance.  They gave me plazma-pharesis for 28 days starting a long journey back towards health.  I developed a wonderful relationship with the physical thereapist – Laura Underwood, and the occupation therapist.  I was there 3 ½ months recovering slowly.  I returned home and continued physical therapy at Goshen Hospital with Linda Harms for six more months.  As bad as the disease was the experience with the excellent medical help and therapists was fantastic.  The following spring, with the help of my dad, I planted corn and tried to learn to get along without full mobility.  I continued to improve for about one or two years and then to about 75% normal.  I want to give credit to my brother, Tim, for keeping the business going till I was able to return to work gradually.  As I turn 74 next October and reflect on my care and my great wife and family it is not what I would have ordered up but dad-gummed close.  It woke me up to help and give more to others.  I went on to teach Jr. Hi and high school youth Sunday School at our church for 25 years.