Guillain-Barré Syndrome patient makes remarkable recovery at HSA
With love, faith and the help of healing hands, a patient of the Health Services Authority (HSA) who was suffering from Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare and serious condition, has made a significant recovery.
On 12 February 2015 Sislyn Ebanks’ life took a drastic turn when she was diagnosed by Dr Joan Harriot of TrinCay Medical Centre with a severe and aggressive case of GBS, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system. She was also informed that her condition would worsen before it improved.
The first symptoms of GBS 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. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost completely 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.
Once her family were informed of the need for specialised care for her condition, Mrs Ebanks was transferred overseas. Her daughters worked tirelessly by her side to ensure their mother received the best care while keeping her constantly surrounded by prayers, songs and conversation.
However, Mrs Ebanks was not responding to treatments and she received a poor prognosis from her doctor. As predicted her condition worsened; her lungs collapsed, she had to be given dialysis treatment and eventually became unconscious. It was a very devastating period for her family.
Mrs Ebanks spent approximately four months reliant upon life support before her daughters eventually made the decision to transfer her, by air ambulance, back to Cayman where she could be with the rest of her family while receiving long term supportive care.
It was after returning home she began her long and determined journey to recovery – a journey which included many local doctors and specialists and instrumental departments such as the Needs Assessment Unit, the HSA’s Critical Care Unit, Medical Unit, Patient Financial Services, Referrals Unit and Physiotherapy Unit, from which she continues to receive support.
Physiotherapy has been an integral part of Mrs Ebanks’ recovery. Once she returned to the islands, the HSA’s physiotherapy team began treatment immediately to ensure that she was given the greatest opportunity for regained mobility, when she regained consciousness. It is not unusual for patients to have physiotherapy even if they are unable to participate.
“We often become very close with our patients, as we did with Mrs Ebanks. I’ve been with her throughout her recovery. Our team here at the HSA celebrate and encourage our patients as they achieve their milestones. We recognise the difficult days, and like all challenges we’ve faced, we work through them together,” said HSA Physiotherapist Christy Thressa.
As Mrs Ebanks regained consciousness, the hospital’s physiotherapy team remained vigilant with the monitoring of her progress in the rehabilitation programme they designed for her.
The Ebanks family said this experience has given them an enhanced appreciation for the services available on island, in particular those offered by the HSA. They shared that the hospital’s staff was not only knowledgeable but, went above and beyond for their family.
“I am so very grateful for the support, encouragement, love and prayers I received from so many and I believe the Lord has also been instrumental in my recovery. My congregation refers to me as the “Miracle Lady” now, and I believe I am,” said Mrs Ebanks.
“At the HSA our patients are our top priority. We take pride in the quality care we provide for them, and our staff work tirelessly in the clinical areas as well as behind-the-scenes to ensure that our patients’ needs are met. I am delighted that Mrs Ebanks has made such a tremendous recovery. We are happy that she is satisfied and appreciative of the care she received from us,” said Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood.
Photo caption: Sislyn Ebanks continues with her physiotherapy sessions at the Cayman Islands Hospital Physiotherapy Unit.
Photo caption: Mrs Ebanks (second left) celebrates her recovery with (l-r) her two daughters, her helper and HSA Physiotherapist Christy Thressa.