Friday, January 30, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dover Air Force base airman works to fight rare nerve illness

By
From page B10 | February 17, 2013 |

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — Imagine having to relearn all the things you learned as kid; how to eat, how to walk, how to talk. Imagine how frustrated and devastated you would be.

That’s exactly what happened to Airman 1st Class Lori Cord, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, when she acquired Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare illness affecting the nerve system, in late October of 2012.

A few days before Cord went home on leave, she received the annual flu immunization in the form of the flu mist. When she got to her home in Woodstock, Ga., Cord began to notice symptoms, but initially brushed them off.

“I noticed my feet were becoming numb and felt like they were being stuck with pins and needles,” Cord said. “I was also starting to have a neck problem. Then my tongue started to go numb, and then my entire mouth, it was weird. Then my hands felt like pins and needles, and the next night it got worse.”

A day before she was scheduled to return to Dover Air Force Base, Del., Cord said she began to feel really weak. She tried to help her grandmother with some yard work, but she could barely pick up a 20-pound bag of mulch and said afterwards her calves felt like they were on fire.

The day of her flight, Nov. 2, both Cord and her parents knew something was wrong. The plan was for Cord to go straight to the emergency room once she got back to Delaware because they were afraid of her being stuck in Georgia.

When she arrived at the airport in Philadelphia, her friend, Senior Airman Nicholas Anderson, immediately noticed something was not right.

“Well, her flight arrives and I’m waiting in the terminal for what seemed like forever,” Anderson said. “Then I finally see her and she is holding on to the wall as she is shuffling toward me. I asked her what was going on and she said her feet hurt and the pain was moving up her legs. I told her we had to get to the ER now.”

Anderson and Cord spent seven and half hours at the emergency room, but the doctors were unable to determine what she had or what her symptoms meant. The doctors wanted her to see a neurologist on the following Monday.

Anderson said he and his roommate Senior Airman Nicolaos Hofbauer stayed with her over the weekend because they didn’t want to leave her alone.

“Over the weekend it seemed like it had leveled out some,” Anderson said. “On Monday, things seemed to get worse, she had to walk with her leaning on us. When we got to work they said to get her to the emergency room.”

Cord said her condition started to deteriorate rapidly at the hospital.

“On Monday, I was a hot mess,” Cord said. “I couldn’t feel my back when I took a shower. When we got to the front desk they noticed I was walking weird and got me a wheel chair. When they saw that I couldn’t even fill out the paperwork or hold a pen, I think they could tell something was really wrong. When we got back to the family medical area, I was slouching more and more, and they let a doctor see me really quick.”

Cord’s condition continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace. Along with all of her other symptoms, her speech started slurring badly. They took Cord to the downtown emergency room by ambulance.

Once at the ER, a neurologist did a spinal tap and found an extreme amount of proteins in her spine. The next thing Cord knew, she was told she was being transferred to the intensive care unit. There she was told for the first time what she had; something that would change her life: Guillain-Barre syndrome.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, Guillain-Barre syndrome 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 it spreads to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening – potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate – and is considered a medical emergency. The syndrome is rare, afflicting about 1 in 100,000 annually. GBS occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally, surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances, vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS.

In the ICU, Cord said it was explained to her that her condition would get worse before it got better. She was completely paralyzed from head-to-toe, lost her ability to talk, the ability to do anything on her own. Because GBS is a disorder where the diagnoses and recovery time can be extremely varied, it was unclear when symptoms were going to subside.

Cord was declared a critical patient. At that point, Master Sgt. Keith Eberhardt, 436th AMXS first sergeant, arranged for Cord’s father and mother to be flown up from Georgia. Eberhardt arranged lodging amongst other things, and according to Cord’s father, Rick, Eberhardt and others with the 436th AMXS took care of all the family’s peripheral needs, so Rick and his wife, Lisa, could take care of their daughter.

“I was so impressed by the squadron and the Air Force family,” said Rick Cord, a retired 24-year police officer in Cobb County, Ga. “They took care of things so we could look after Lori. Every time I mentioned a need, they were there with help. They provided meals and everything. I was just blown away by the compassion people had for her. It was truly a humbling experience.”

According to Rick Cord, the recovery process was long and hard. He said it was like raising her from infancy again. The steps in her recovery process included time in the ICU, being moved to a physical therapy facility in Milford, Del., back to Temporary Living Facility on base, to finally a home off-base in Dover, where she has been recovering since leaving the Milford facility Dec. 8, 2012.

“She had to learn to talk again because her mouth was paralyzed,” Rick Cord said. “We had to do absolutely everything for her. It was quite frightening for me. Daily I could see the recuperation was going very slowly. There were times I wondered if she would ever fully recover. But, I knew with her determination that she would.”

It was this determination and commitment that would serve her well as she started the long road to recovery. One of the treatments required for GBS is mental health, because GBS can lead to depression as the patient experiences the painful process of trying to regain functions natural to them before GBS.

According to Rick Cord and others, Cord’s positive attitude was not only a source of strength for herself, but was encouraging to family, friends, coworkers and even other patients.

“The nurses said she is the most encouraging and uplifting person,” Rick Cord said. “She has an infectious enthusiasm. She had all the patients (in Milford) in a semi-circle around her all in wheel chairs doing exercises. She had everyone laughing and encouraged. The first time she got out of her wheelchair and onto a walker, the whole place, therapists and patients, erupted in applause.”

Another person who noticed her attitude was her commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Levien.

“I want to point out how excited I am to have a person like Airman 1st Class Cord in our squadron,” Levien said. “Her positive attitude in this difficult situation is something to be modeled. I have never seen such an upbeat person in the midst of a life-changing situation. She was always smiling, finding the positive in every challenge and regularly begging to come back to work. Her attitude is infectious.”

Cord has slowly been progressing along the road to recovery. She and her father set the goal of Cord being able to go to work on her own for a full week as the time when he would return home to Georgia.

That goal was met Feb. 1, and her father and mother drove back to Georgia Feb. 3.

Kristoffer Surdukowski, Cord’s physical therapist, said it is hard to say how much longer she will continue to recover. She has made great progress thus far, but still has a long ways to go to be back to normal again.

“With GBS there are no set parameters for recovery,” Surdukowski said. “She has really progressed well. Her long-term outlook, in another two months she could be back close to 100 percent, that is looking normal. Her long-term prognosis is unknown, because a diagnosis is difficult to get to. This could come up again. There are a lot of question marks as to what will happen.”

Cord’s father had nothing but praise for the love and support his family and Lori received from the 436th AMXS.

“In my mind and how I was thinking, I had tunnel vision, nothing mattered to me but Lori’s recovery,” Rick Cord said. “That’s where the squadron came in. The first sergeant, her supervisors, the NCOs, everyone came in and took care of so much for us. It was just one show of compassion after another. “

Capt. Suzanne House, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer-in-charge, said it was great having Cord back to work and that she didn’t expect to see her back so soon. She said it spoke of Cord’s commitment to the Air Force.

“I noticed how much of a family our unit truly is, everyone was genuinely glad to see her back to work, it was almost like a reception line,” House said. “She has been such a breath of positive energy since she has been back. It is great to see the progress she has made. I think it boosted morale for everyone to see her back. She is really inspiring.”

Eberhardt, said the Air Force needs more people like her.

“She has the best attitude of anyone I’ve ever known,” Eberhardt said. “We would be there to lift her spirits and she would end up lifting our spirits. She was so positive the whole time. Other people rallied around her. It was almost unbelievable to see. She was pushing her doctors and pushing her PTs for the opportunity to get back to work, that shows what kind of person she is. She just has a great attitude. In fact, we need more people with her attitude in the Air Force.”

Air Force News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Teens earn right to perform with symphony

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

From classical to Queen: Chamber Players are ready

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Photographer has a passion for color

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Solano summit focuses on ways to end poverty

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Fraud among challenges immigrants face, Fairfield panelists say

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Cadets learn skills for future careers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Girls on the Run expands, seeks volunteers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
‘Souper Bowl’ coming to Solano County

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
Sports aircraft company CEO recalls effort to locate in Solano

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
SolTrans announces changes to bus routes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

California’s snow survey shows far less snow than last month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Doctors starting to shy away from non-vaccine advocates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Protestors shun sister-city relationship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
City event criticized for Mexican mafia connection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to move more than 2,000 inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Boy Scouts reaches settlement in sex abuse case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
‘Anonymized’ credit card data not so anonymous, study shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Fort Hood gunman Hasan says he wants to keep top lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Attorney General nominee wins GOP endorsements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Police: Family killed man over child custody dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Ukraine: Russia-backed rebels overrun another town in east

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Simultaneous attacks in Egypt’s Sinai kill 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Gas blast at Mexico children’s hospital, at least 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Deadly San Francisco blaze spurs look at fire alarms

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A12 | Gallery

California meets judges’ prison crowding goal 1 year early

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 30, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
Left’s missteps show themselves – given time

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My cousin’s 14-year-old son sleeps in the same bed as his grandma

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘The Thorn Birds’ author Colleen McCullough dies at age 77

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hilary Duff, George Lopez help in search for stolen dog

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Justin Bieber apologizes for bad behavior in online video

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Musician Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley altercation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lil Wayne sues mentor’s record label for $51M, seeking split

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jim Parsons to play God in Broadway’s ‘An Act of God’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
 
Bernie Mac widow drops malpractice lawsuit against doctor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Serena aims for 19th major in Aussie final vs. Sharapova

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Marshawn Lynch talks about why he doesn’t talk to the media

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Vanden boys pull away from feisty Fairfield 86-66

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7

Gronkowski and Chancellor make for must-see Super Bowl matchup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Chevrolet polishes its mid-size truck

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Senate passes Keystone XL bill, battles loom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
McDonald’s under siege as new CEO steps in

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Obama seeks spending spike for defense, domestic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Who wants a bite of Hershey…jerky?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Gloria Elizabeth Neal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9