Mumbai woman finds footing 5 months after rare illness confines her to bed

Guillain-Barre syndrome strikes one in a lakh people and Shubhra Kundu is the one; the disease left her paralysed and she only resumed walking last week

When 49-year-old Shubhra Kundu, wife of a Central Railway official, walked into Byculla’s Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital complaining of fever, cold and cough, little did she know that the diagnosis would turn into a rare case study for doctors.

Shubhra Kundu is on the slow path to recovery from the autoimmune disorder
Shubhra Kundu is on the slow path to recovery from the autoimmune disorder

Her severe illness, which was recognised as the rare Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) upon diagnosis, left her bedridden for five months. Due to the rare but serious autoimmune disorder, her body’s immune system started attacking healthy nerve cells of the peripheral nervous system.

The hospital tried various tests to ascertain the cause of the disease and managed to bring her back on her feet after five long months. It’s only been a week since Shubhra has started walking, with the help of crutches, leaving behind the horribly long months.

Shubhra, wife of D N Kundu, executive electrical engineer in Central Railway, is a resident of Dombivli. On August 6, she complained of cough and cold and was taken to a nearby hospital by her husband.

The hospital failed to treat her illness, and within a day, the symptoms changed into tingling of feet and weakness in the thigh area. Concerned with the ambiguity of the illness, Kundu rushed her to CR’s Ambedkar Hospital for further treatment.

“She was complaining about numbness in the lower section of her body that was increasing day after day. I waited for seven days and, when the symptoms refused to fade  away, we went to the hospital for further treatment,” said Kundu.

She was admitted in the intensive care unit and doctors swung into action soon after they studied the symptoms. “We straightway went for MRI and CT scan as the patient was complaining of numbness. However, as the tests came negative, we realised that it was not a common disease and went for cerebrospinal fluid test,” said the attending doctor at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Shubhra’s condition kept deteriorating. A month had already passed and she went into a state of paralysis. “Only after results of the complement-fixation test (CFT) and the electromyography (EMG) test at Bombay Hospital was it ascertained that she was suffering from a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome,” added the doctor.

Once diagnosed, the doctors referred Shubhra for an Intravenous Immuno Globins (IVIG) infusion, which was done over five days. “Each injection cost me around a lakh but it did wonders. My wife started responding to my words and actions and hope of her survival was rekindled,” said her husband.

What is GBS?
Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances, the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body.

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