Guillain-Barre syndrome is an incredibly rare disease that only affects 1-2 of every 100,000 people according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully for Tim Sanford, Encompass Health’s specialized care team was able to help diagnose and treat his condition.
On a Saturday night in July 2016, Tim Sanford was attending a wedding and celebrating among friends. Only two days later, he found himself unable to walk. That’s how quickly his disease, Guillain-Barre, spread through his body. While Tim found himself in an unimaginable situation, his wife Maria Sanford, a case manager at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of San Antonio, and her team were working diligently on diagnosing his sudden paralysis.
“The doctor checked me into the ER immediately, and from there I went to the local Baptist Hospital. My wife worked at Encompass Health and had the ability to help them diagnose it because of the team there,” Tim said. Because of his wife and her team’s expertise, they were able to diagnose the disease in a matter of hours. “They diagnosed me on a Tuesday morning, basically before I had the final results of my testing. The neurologist had started me on the routine to final recovery by Tuesday night. As a result of that diagnosis, five days later I checked in over here [Encompass Health San Antonio] to be next to my wife.”
Tim explained that the therapy itself was rigorous, but his team helped him every step of the way. “Ashley told me I was going to walk the first day I got in here, I couldn’t even feed myself. By that next morning after some discussion about my goals and objectives, she had me up and walking. I’m a loud kind of guy, everybody knew I said ‘Ashley, you’re killing me!’ and she’s very demure and she said, ‘Please don’t say that out loud,’” Tim said with a laugh. “The staff here, Rolanda and Ashley are miracle workers.”
He was determined to get out of the hospital quickly and had a goal he was willing to fight for. “Ashley and Rolanda helped me achieve my goal, which was able to be in Boston by late August. I said ‘I’m going to hug my daughter-in-law, I’m having my first grandchild.’ That was the goal, we scheduled that trip, she was going to be five months pregnant, and I just had to get back and give her a big hug.” Tim said. “My doctor was wonderful, but she was very cautious. She made me ride the wheelchair through the airports and things like that, but I was able to, with the help of Maria, get straight through there and check into the Commonwealth Hotel. We had a great time and really enjoyed our visit, and we were able to celebrate that new addition coming to our family, which was born Jan. 1, of that next year.”
Tim fully credits his Encompass Health team for his speedy and successful recovery, but iterated that much of the process lays on the shoulders of patients going through inpatient rehabilitation. “I think the motivation that I would give others is to keep working and keep a positive mental attitude. There are going to be tough days, but the staff here from the therapist’s assistants to the therapists themselves really care. They would pull tricks on me, and I’m kind of a jokester anyways, so we had a lot of fun that helped make it happy for me,” Tim said. “The main thing is it’s all about you and keeping a good mental attitude. The staff will get you where you need you to be. I was here almost a month. I’m an observant guy, and I watched what was going on. Miracles were worked every day here.”