- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

CROPSEY, Ill. (AP) - Jeff Noyd was a retired police and fire officer who did just about everything on the farm.

“Now, Rose (his wife Rosemarie) has to help me with toileting needs,” a frustrated Jeff said. “I can’t even wipe my own butt. I can’t get my arm back. It’s really humbling.”

“He went from combining to being on the couch (unable to use his arms and legs) in a week,” Rosemarie said.

Jeff slowly is getting stronger and gradually is regaining movement in his legs, arms, hands and fingers. But his neurologist told him that he may never be at 100 percent strength again.

Jeff has Guillain-Barre (ghee-YA-buh-RAY) syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. What results is weakness and tingling in the extremities. But the sensations can grow and may paralyze much of the body.

“It’s a drastic disease you don’t know nothing about,” Rosemarie, 59, said in their Cropsey home.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” said Jeff, 63.

He sat in a lift chair with his walker in front of him. On a table beside him were a telephone (he puts it on speaker) and eating utensils modified by a friend so Jeff can feed himself.

Beside him was his dog, Cassidy, a sheltie who seldom has left Jeff’s side since the paralysis took hold. Rosemarie sat across from Jeff, keeping a watchful eye.

“It’s a devastating disease,” Jeff said. “It’s frustrating… The extent of my day is sitting in this chair.”

Jeff isn’t giving himself full credit. He does leg, arm, hand and finger exercises, which he believes are helping him. There is no medicine for Guillain-Barre.

He tries to stay upbeat. “You gotta have a positive attitude,” he said.

While the cause of Guillain-Barre isn’t known, his case may have been triggered by influenza.

“Guillain-Barre is a result of an immune system issue,” observed Sue Albee, McLean County Health Department supervisor of community health services.

“There is a one in 100,000 risk of getting Guillain-Barre, but it can be triggered by an infection, including flu,” Albee said. “There are serious complications of influenza, and that’s why we encourage people to reduce their risk of flu, including getting a flu shot.”

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