By Diann Mayweather
Her name is Dr. Diana Nicole Mayweather, a Ph.D. Chemistry graduate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Diana is my daughter and this is her journey with GBS through my eyes. I would like to start with some background information on Diana. She lived in Chicago, Illinois until graduation from Northwestern (June 2012) at which time she landed work in Minnesota. Her first position was at St. Cloud State University as a General Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator and Laboratory Professor, followed by The University of Minnesota where she serves as the Senior Laboratory Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry. Diana is currently on Medical Leave of Absence from the University.
It all started in May of 2017. Diana began to have strange symptoms, first a tingling in her hands and feet, followed by extreme back pain. She had several unexpected falls which lead her to believe that something was wrong. Diana visited several Urgent Care Centers and her primary care doctor during the month of June, as each new symptom came on and existing symptoms worsened. Since she was diabetic, her symptoms were either linked to being associated with the diabetes or went unresolved. Her health continued to decline into July with facial paralysis and weakness in her legs.
My husband and I decided to take the trip from Chicago to Minnesota to check on our daughter. We were concerned because her condition declined so rapidly and she was losing her ability to walk. We brought her back to Chicago with us on July 30th, and she asked to be taken to the Emergency Room on July 31st. Her symptoms at that time were facial paralysis, tingling hands and feet, immobility and extreme back pain. After being examined by several doctors, the Emergency Room Medical Director stated that she had a rare autoimmune condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
She was admitted and put on IVIg treatments. We never imagined that her hospital stay would turn into a six month journey at five different facilities. It started with the facility that diagnosed her with a 10 day stay, followed by rehabilitation for 30 days. She was not ready for rehabilitation so her health continued to decline to the point of asphyxiation and being admitted through the ER to a nearby hospital, where she stayed for 21 days. During this stay, she underwent several tests, including Lumbar Puncture, MRIs, EMG, CAT Scan and numerous X-Rays. She was intubated four times, received a trach and put on a ventilation machine. She received plasma electrophoresis treatments. Her body continued to fail her, she was totally paralyzed and on heavy pain medication. Through it all, she continued to remain strong even though she could not move or communicate. My heart was broken having to see my child go through a condition that robbed her of her ability to move, communicate or function in her normal capacity.
Diana was transferred to another facility to be weaned off of the ventilator. She stayed there for 2 months. While at this facility, she received steroid treatments and bedside rehabilitation therapies. Finally reaching the recovery stage, Diana’s nerves began to regenerate, causing her severe pain in her legs and feet. After improving, she was transferred again to another rehabilitation center. She started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and made great strides. She was there for over 2 months and released home on January 16, 2018, nearly six months from her original admission date. This was a very difficult journey for Diana and her family.
She continues outpatient physical therapy five days per week. Her goal is to return to work in midsummer. I am confident that she will do this and have a full recovery. As a mother, I am so proud of Diana, I saw her go through a range of emotions and challenges associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Although I cannot capture everything that Diana went through or may go through in the future, I know that she remained strong, and this is why I honor her as my GBS Hero.