Sunday, May 15, 2016

Marathon runner diagnosed with debilitating Guillain-Barre Syndrome driven to recovery, plans to walk Brooklyn Half Marathon

Two years ago, Michael Ring was paralyzed when he was stuck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome following a stomach virus.

Two years ago, Michael Ring was paralyzed when he was suddenly struck down by Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Saturday he plans to walk the Brooklyn Half Marathon.
That Ring, 52, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, is moving at all is a credit to savvy doctors and his own indomitable spirit.
“At the end of April 2014, I had a stomach virus to end all stomach viruses,” Ring said, describing how his nightmare ordeal began.
Days later, “I had insane pain in my legs and feet, which I just ignored,” he recalled.
On his twins’ 14th birthday, the family went to see “Avenue Q” and the pain switched to fatigue.
“I was dropping dishes, stumbling,” he said.
On May 7, he went to his doctor, who sent him straight to a hospital. She gravely explained he had Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
On the way to the hospital, Ring Googled it.
Ring deteriorated quickly. Within a day, he was unable to stand or walk . He fell into the unlucky 5% of Guillain-Barre patients who have a severe and unusual strain, according to Dr. Myrna Cardiel, a neurologist at NYU's Langone Medical Center.

Ring was driven to recovery
by a desire to run marathons.

“Guillain-Barre is a fairly common condition that normally follows an infection,” she said. “Most patients have that for one or two weeks and they peak and don't worsen.”
Doctors administered different rounds of medicines, including plasma transfusions and chemo to Ring, who responded well to the chemo.
He needed a wheelchair, then a walker, then crutches and continues with occupational therapy once a week.
What kept him going and why he now hopes to walk the world’s largest half marathon is his spirit.
“His mentality is unbelievable,” said Dr. Jung Ahn, director of rehabilitation medicine at NYU’s Rusk Rehabilitation.
“He never expressed or demonstrated depression as to what he had lost. His initial goal was to get back to running as soon as possible.”
Ring is the first to say that as a runner, he has always been a slow poke. Growing up in Sheepshead Bay, Ring started running in high school. He was never fast but he was steady and ran in all weather.
He stopped running in college. Then as a senior he decided to try the New York City Marathon.
“I threw up all over the Queensboro Bridge,” he recalled.
But later, trapped in a massive car jam because of the 1991 NYC Marathon, Ring vowed again to run it, this time training for two years.
From 1993 until 2013, he ran every New York City Marathon. In all, Ring completed 29 of the runs.
There were some where by mile 20 he was done. “I took a ride with an ambulance to finish,” he said.
These days he writes a blog about his recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome and hopes to get back to full marathons after the half.
“If I can do the half without dropping dead, then I can do the whole thing and then plop,” he said.
Despite his stilted stride and only regaining limited use of his hands, Ring plans to walk and run daily.

His current goals, he sums up, are “to finish the New York City Marathon and to use a doorknob.”
To the left is the print edition. Half of page 22 of the Sunday edition of the New York daily news on May 15, 2016. There are more than a few factual inaccuracies in the article but none compared to the headline.

Here is a link to the whole article


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