Alton Stockton has only two therapy sessions a week at Texas Health Fort Worth after spending months Monday through Friday. He still has to work out every day to try to improve the strength in his right leg, which was paralyzed months ago.
It started on the last day of work with a mosquito bite.
The Bedford resident, then 64 years old, was infected with the neuroinvasive West Nile virus, a rare form of the disease that occurs in about every 250 cases, said Stockton's physiotherapist Daleen Knight.
His symptoms swelled quickly.
One morning, he woke up with bad headaches that would not go away.
Within weeks he fell while watching his Maltese poodle mix Sophie in his backyard and could not get up. His right leg would not work.
"I thought it was just asleep, but I went outside to take it out and fell and could not get up," Stockton said. "At that point, I had no feeling in my leg. Two days later, my shoulder was paralyzed."
Soon his speech was impaired.
Stockton refers to the time spent as a journey of faith in speech, work and physiotherapy caused by encephalitis.
"We had to rely on our faith to make it through," Stockton said, referring to himself and his wife Clare.
"We did not know anything about education," he said. "I never thought a mosquito bite could do this ̵
Since his symptoms resembled those of a stroke victim, Stockton spent time rehabilitating stroke victims in Anna, 55 miles from Bedford. Working to regain his speech and motor skills.
Several people who had suffered and struggled with the West Nile stretched out with prayers and support. A group from his church came to his house and rebuilt his bathrooms so he could use them more easily, he said.
"You forgot yourself," Stockton said, becoming emotional. "They got to know other people, and I became more compassionate to other people and what they went through."
A man who arrived depressed after a stroke and said things like "I just want to die" started talking to him Stockton. About two days later, he said, "Alton, we're going to kill it today. "His whole attitude had changed."
When he was finally considered ready to spend most of his time at home, after about two months of almost constant care, Stockton went first to Chick-Fil-A, then a few days later to his family doctor.
"He said," I'm glad to see you here, "Stockton said," I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Most people your age do not survive that." He said if it had not been the shape I was in, I probably would have died. "
Stockton went to the gym from Monday to Friday before he fell ill, he said, making 40 minutes of cardio training and then taking turns taking turns
"I have been doing this continuously for years," he says.
Now, Stockton says he feels more forced to stay in shape, and he maintains with his regular sessions at Texas Health a daily workout that may be a bit more intense than Knight would prefer. "He did" about 45 minutes of basic rehabilitation, then went back to the gym for a workout and pool exercises, "he said," everyone agreed , the It was a bit much too much. "
Now he is still doing his prescribed ground exercises to strengthen his leg when he wakes up in the morning, but has bounced back in the gym, mainly while running in the pool and
despite the grueling job "Setbacks and frustrations, Stockton said he seldom allowed himself to feel bad about his circumstances.
"If I miss a day (therapy and exercise), my thinking process is, that could be the day my leg comes back," Stockton said.
"In a strange sense, I was blessed by all this," he said. "I think if you allow yourself to get negative, it's very easy, and there were times, maybe two or three times, that I took a day or two to make a pity party then it's back to work. "
And he found some time-saving workarounds. He loves to cook, but after he was infected, he found it difficult to move around in the kitchen with ingredients, so he put spice jars in his waistband to save a few trips. His wife took a picture of it.
Stockton hopes his story will educate people on how important it is to do anything to prevent mosquito bites.
"No one understands how bad it can be," said Stockton of West Nile. "They have a spectrum that ranges from flu-like symptoms to death, but in between, doctors do not really know how it will affect you."
He and his wife make sure that the house with DEET and that they follow other mosquito recommendations. The anniversary of his illness comes just as Tarrant County decided to spray three areas this week after being tested positive for the West Nile.
Stockton can drive now, but with his left foot. He will probably continue the therapy for a few more weeks.
He is waiting for a high-tech leg splint called C-Brace, which should allow him a much greater flexibility. He looks forward to it and hopes to help more people with the story of what he has been through.
"I tell people I have my health and my body, I have only one bad leg," Stockton said. "So, how do you do that and turn that into a positive one to reach out to others and help them?" My passion for helping others just rose. "
Prevent West Nile
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following precautions to prevent the West Nile virus:
▪ Insect repellents to deter mosquitoes, such as DEET, lemon oil, eucalyptus or picaridine
▪ Wear Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
▪ Treat clothing and equipment with permethrin, an insect repellent
▪ Repair holes in window and door panels to prevent mosquito infiltration
▪ Eliminate stagnant water in your home