Greg Shanklin

Diagnosis: Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

Michigan, United States

My name is Greg, and on January 8th of 2008, my journey began when I came home from work and my arms began to have a tingling feeling in my shoulders. It went on for about 15 or 20 minutes before I decided to drive myself to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Upon arriving at the emergency room, I was taken into the back to be checked out. Around 45 minutes later, I became completely paralyzed from the chest down just out of nowhere, not having been sick. Just out of nowhere – paralyzed. They did a battery of tests: spinal taps, MRI scans, everything that you can think of. I woke up in intensive care after 10 days, and from there I went to Mary Free Bed rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mary Free Bed is one of the top leading rehabilitation hospitals in the world. From there, I spent 3 months being rehabilitated to use what I had. I think the most difficult part of me having transverse myelitis was giving up all my independence and having to depend on others to help me, but over the nine years I’ve come to get better at it, knowing that I can use all the help that I can get.

I’ve come a long way from that cold night in January! Since then I have moved into my own apartment, learned to be more independent, and have gotten a job at Home Depot. I’ve learned to live my life to the fullest and be grateful for the small things that come into my life as well.  Without God in my life and my family and friends, I would still have a hard time coping. I am just grateful for every day that I wake up and am able to be around my family and friends and appreciate life because no matter how hard you think you have it, there’s always somebody that’s a little worse than you. So whatever you’re doing and how bad you think it is, remember you always have to keep a smile through all the BS and keep your head up because you can persevere over anything if you keep at it. I’m living proof of that.

Greg Shanklin