Nerve damage from a rare and crippling disease, guillain-barre syndrome, inhibits Matthew Reisig from being able to carry out motor functions. (Submitted photo)

Aldergrove father fights for his life after flu turns into paralyzing condition

Reisig has lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements.

Aldergrove-born Matt Reisig is battling the onset of a rare, paralyzing condition in an Abbotsford ICU after a typical bout with the flu.

In late February, 30-year-old Reisig “had a flu just like the rest of his family,” said Cara Parks, the family’s aunt.

On March 1, the young father woke up in his family’s new home with symptoms that progressed from tingling in his legs to a complete collapse onto the floor.

He was taken by ambulance to the hospital emergency, and upon arrival diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

“When Matt first fell ill, an ER doctor said it was going to be five days of treatment,” Parks explained. But on March 7 Reisig’s condition deteriorated even further and he had to be intubated in order to breathe.

Reisig has now lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder, and face movements that are limited to nodding, eye rolling, and side-to-side head motions – which he uses to communicate with his wife, Ashley.

She has stood by his side the entire time in hospital, with their one-year-old daughter Ayla.

“People really admire the love they share, their connection in this time,” Parks told the Aldergrove Star.

They became friends in Grade 5 at Parkside Elementary and reconnected after high school. The couple has now been together for 10 years.

“Ashley made a communication board with letters to help Matt convey what he feels and needs,” Parks said.

Doctors have warned Ashley that Resig’s prognosis is grave and at the very least, will amount to a slow recovery. GBS is a neurological condition where adverse effects take two to four weeks to “peak” before plateauing – Reisig is currently at the two-week mark, Parks explained.

The family hopes to raise awareness about GBS – a mysterious inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cell axons instead of the virus the body is sick with, according to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

There is no known cause for the condition.

“Before this, the family was doing so well. Matt was a very healthy, active guy. He was there for his newborn daughter when she had seizures and for his wife when she faced postpartum depression,” Parks said.

Reisig’s nerve damage now inhibits his muscles from being able to carry out their normal functions.

“We can’t tell how long the recovery is going to be,” Parks said, “Could be months or years.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to offset family expenses, as neither parent will be able to work for the foreseeable future “as Matt takes slow steps towards recovery,” Parks said.

“Doctors keep having conversations with me to manage my expectations,” Ashley told the Aldergrove Star. “But, I’m reaching out in ways I never have because I don’t know what else to do.”

Ashley posts regular status updates to her Facebook page, detailing her husband’s condition.

On Monday, she took Ayla to visit her dad – at his request.

“I wondered if I should, but he needs to remember who he’s fighting this battle for and what he has to look forward to when he comes through it,” the mother posted to Facebook.

Reisig was later transferred to intensive-care unit, and is now undergoing plasmapheresis treatment at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

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Matthew’s wife, Ashley, has stood by his side the entire time in hospital with their 1-year-old daughter Ayla. (Submitted photo)

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