It Changed My Life.
When I was ten years old, I was an athlete until it happened. I started falling down and losing my balance for no apparent reason. My doctor had no idea what was going on, she even suggested to my parents that I was faking it for attention. It was quite a struggle to get referred to a neurologist, but less than five minutes into my appointment the neurologist diagnosed me with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I was immediately admitted into the hospital and began a torturous series of medical treatments. I almost died. I didn't recover with the characteristic quickness of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so I was diagnosed with the Miller Fisher variant. That too was an incorrect diagnosis. I didn't recover within six months. I began to relapse. Then the awful truth emerged - I would have this terrible disease for the rest of my life. I had the chronic version of the disease - Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polynueropathy. It's been over a decade since I became ill, and I cannot begin to imagine how differently my life would have been if I had never become ill. I know things would have been different. I think they would have been better. I'll never know.
My disease is very rare. Not many people, not even many doctors know about it, so here's some information taken from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. The disorder, which is sometimes called chronic relapsing polyneuropathy, is caused by damage to the myelin sheath (the fatty covering that wraps around and protects nerve fibers) of the peripheral nerves. Although it can occur at any age and in both genders, CIDP is more common in young adults, and in men more so than women. It often presents with symptoms that include tingling or numbness (beginning in the toes and fingers), weakness of the arms and legs, loss of deep tendon reflexes (areflexia), fatigue, and abnormal sensations. CIDP is closely related to Guillain-Barre syndrome and it is considered the chronic counterpart of that acute disease.