A First Step - Understanding Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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Trafford Publishing, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 396 pages
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Part one of A First Step - Understanding Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a true, blow-by-blow account of the Author's encounter, as a healthy Canadian businessman, with a rare and devastating disease, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (G.B.S. for short). It describes his seven-month long struggle for life in 'Intensive Care' after receiving a grim prognosis, and his subsequent dogged determination to overcome the effects of that disease.

The second part is devoted to short stories based on dreams and hallucinations experienced whilst he was in 'Intensive Care', which in themselves reveal something of what a patient was going through. They also serve to illustrate the narrow boundary between reality and the dream world, and which whilst making for entertaining reading, could possibly be the subject of further study.

Although the Author is a layperson, in medical terms, it is believed this book will be an important aid to medical professionals and care-givers, providing as it does, new insights and a unique perspective on the effects, not only of the disease, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but also of the handling and care of any long-term intensive care patient, and their subsequent rehabilitation. For the curious, it will answer many questions. For G.B.S. patients and their families it should provide inspirational reading.

The foreword to the book has been written by Dr Frank Warshawski, MD, FRCPC, Director of Intensive Care, Rockyview General Hospital, Calgary. In addition to that prestigious involvement, the Author has been fortunate in receiving permission to use other material authored by exceptionally well qualified medical professionals, for which due credit is given in the 'Acknowledgements' section of the book, enabling him to produce not only an interesting publication, but an informative and educational one.

In short, a 'must read' and deserving of a place on any medical bookshelf.

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About the author (2002)

Brian S. Langton first contemplated writing a book while lying, virtually paralysed, in a rehabilitation ward. He had earlier been stricken with a particularly serious form of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, sometimes referred to as G.B.S., and had already spent over seven months in intensive care, more than six of those months on a ventilator for breathing assistance. He had recovered his ability to speak, and was becoming used to entertaining visitors by recounting some of the dream sequences he had experienced during his period of hospitalisation. He was interested and encouraged by the positive messages he appeared to be providing to his visitors.

Many of the dreams were quite hilarious, in spite of Brian's serious predicament, and it occurred to him that a collection of them would make for interesting reading. It had also become evident that few had experience of G.B.S., and he was constantly being made aware of just how rare the illness was, and of the nursing community's appetite for knowledge about the Syndrome. It was this realisation which prompted Brian to seriously consider writing a book, not just about the dream sequences but to produce a sort of handbook on G.B.S., suitable for medical professionals, caregivers, G.B.S. patients and relatives, alike.

Upon eventual discharge from hospital, Brian carried these thoughts home. He could not write at that time. It was only just possible for him to move his right arm in a limited way from the shoulder. His recreational therapist had arranged a one finger splint to allow him to use a computer keyboard by pressing one key at a time, but it would take more than that to write a book, or so he thought. It was not until a student caregiver convinced him that he was physically capable of writing the book he was contemplating, even if it meant using 'voice software' and possibly, if the worst came to the worst, by the one finger typing method.

Thus encouraged, and in spite of no writing experience, Brian, with the help and encouragement of that student, commenced work on his book at the start of the new millennium, January 2000.

Brian was born in Derbyshire, England in 1928. He was educated at the West Bridgford Grammar School, Nottingham. After two years of service in the British Army, he embarked on an accounting career, which eventually led to a senior financial position in Salisbury, Wiltshire. In 1977, having achieved his career ambition, he emigrated for the second time, to the 'Blue Sky country' - Alberta, Canada - with his wife and three daughters, seeking new challenges.

It was in June 1998 when he met with the catastrophic life-threatening illness, Guillain-Barré Syndrome. At the time of his frightening encounter with that disease, Brian was a healthy 'young' sixty-nine year old International Sales Manager. He was an enthusiastic golfer, even if, in his own words, not particularly good. In addition, he enjoyed various other hobbies, each one calling in its own way for physical fitness. These included gardening, model railroading, and walking. He had, and still has, a keen interest in nature. He loved to spend much of his leisure time walking and enjoying the wildlife that was so abundant in the area close to his home in Calgary.

His book, A First Step - Understanding Guillain-Barré Syndrome, is a personal account of a battle for survival against an acute, chronic form of that rare disease, and his subsequent determination to return to as normal a life as possible. His story should be an inspiration to others.

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