Aldergrove-born Matt Reisig is battling the onset of a rare, paralyzing condition in an Abbotsford ICU after a typical bout with the flu.
In late February, 30-year-old Reisig “had a flu just like the rest of his family,” said Cara Parks, an aunt of the family.
On March 1, the young father woke up in his family’s new home in White Rock with symptoms that progressed from tingling in his legs to a complete collapse onto the floor.
He was taken by ambulance to the Peace Arch Hospital ER and upon arrival diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
“When Matt first fell ill, an ER doctor said it was going to be five days of treatment,” Parks explained, but on March 7 Reisig’s condition deteriorated even further and he had to be intubated in order to breathe.
Reisig has now lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements including nodding, eye rolling and side-to-side head motions which he uses to communicate with his wife Ashley.
She has stood by his side the entire time in hospital, with their one-year-old daughter Ayla.
“People really admire the love they share, their connection in this time,” Parks told the Aldergrove Star.
As friends in Grade 5, the couple attended Parkside Elementary School and reconnected after high school. They have now been together for 10 years.
“Ashley made a communication board with letters to help Matt convey what he feels and needs,” Parks elaborated.
Doctors have warned Ashley that Resig’s prognosis is grave and at the very least, will amount to a slow recovery. GBS is a neurological condition where adverse effects take two to four weeks to “peak” before plateauing – Reisig is currently at the two-week mark, Parks said.
The family hopes to raise awareness about GBS – a mysterious inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks myelin sheath surrounding nerve cell axons instead of the virus the body is sick with, according to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
There is no known cause for the condition.
“Before this, the family was doing so well. Matt was a very healthy, active guy. He was there for his newborn daughter when she had seizures and for his wife when she faced post-partum depression,” Parks said.
Reisig’s nerve damage now inhibit his muscles from being able to carry out their normal functions.
“We can’t tell how long the recovery is going to be,” Parks said, “could be months or years.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to offset family expenses as neither parent will be able to work for the foreseeable future as Matt takes slow steps towards recovery.
“Doctors keep having conversations with me to manage my expectations,” Ashley told the Aldergrove Star, “but I’m reaching out in ways I never have because I don’t know what else to do.”
On Monday, she took Ayla to visit her dad at his request.
“I wondered if I should but he needs to remember who he’s fighting this battle for and what he has to look forward to when he comes through it,” the mother posted to Facebook.
Reisig was transferred to the intensive-care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital and is now undergoing plasmapheresis treatment during his stay at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.