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On the road to recovery (ID)


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One day last month, Chris Peterson was feeling fine.


Then, a tingling started in his toes. The next day, it spread to his foot. Then, his hand.


Peterson didn't think much of it at first. Then, he decided to visit Kootenai Health for a check-up. With an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, he was given medication to help him relax.


If it got worse, come back, he was told.


It got worse.


“Within 24 hours I was back and I couldn’t walk,” he said.


The Rathdrum man went from working at Reliable Towing as fleet manager to being bedridden, with no real muscle function or strength. His lower extremities — hip, legs and feet, were numb.


He was admitted to the hospital as doctors tried to diagnose his condition.


They did.


He had Guillain-Barré syndrome, described as “a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system."


“GBS can range from a very mild case with brief weakness to nearly devastating paralysis, leaving the person unable to breathe independently,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


It sidelined the normally healthy and perpetually happy Peterson.


“Being so active with my job and family to basically just being bedridden was tough,” he said.


He spent a week at KH. For about two weeks, he had to use a wheelchair. He went to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest in Post Falls for five weeks. He spent hours each day on speech, occupational and physical therapy as he fought to regain control of his body.


It's working.


Today, the husband and father can use a walker. He is stronger. He is confident and hopeful.


“I was fortunate enough they caught it early to be proactive,” he said.


A fundraiser to help Peterson is set for 1 to 4 p.m. today at Curley's Hauser Junction, 26433 W Highway 53, Post Falls.


Reliable Towing is organizing the event that includes a silent auction, gift baskets, entertainment and a 50/50 raffle.

“He’s in charge of keeping all our trucks running and on the road,” said Chris Wunder, Reliable Towing operations manager.


Wunder said Reliable Towing wants to do what it can for Peterson, who has worked for them for about a year.

“We’re all a big family here,” Wunder said.


A GoFundMe campaign has raised $5,130, already over its goal of $5,000.


Peterson questions if his condition was a side effect of the vaccine he received for COVID-19.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Rare serious adverse events have been reported after COVID-19 vaccination, including Guillain-Barré syndrome.”


“It’s been pretty scary,” Peterson said. “The first couple weeks were rough because we didn’t have a whole lot of answers.”


But he’s glad to be moving again with feeling returning to his legs.


That pins-and-needles sensation is gradually going away as his nerves regenerate, though he still gets it at times.

Meanwhile, he’s committed to his rehab and uses his walker to get around outside his home.


“Hopefully I won’t need it too much longer,” he said.


But his legs, he adds, are far from 100% again.


“I still kind of stumble here and there,” Peterson said.


Daughter Avery is “super happy” to have dad back home, as is wife Rayla. Their support sustains him, and friends and family have been big boosters, too, sending messages and prayers.


"It's heartwarming to know so many people were rooting for us and rooting for me," he said.


Peterson said he's seeing "a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”


He hopes to be standing on his own soon and return to work, as soon as possible. He's ready to push through the challenges that he knows are still ahead.


“I’m definitely on the road to recovery. It’s still a tough one. Each day is kind of its own day. I don’t know exactly how long the road is going to be.”


But he knows this: He loves being home again.


“Everything is just that much better waking up in the morning,” he said



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