“We’ve never seen this before”: One man’s journey with two rare diseases

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His chances of winning the lottery were better.
Mike Schwindt of Dickinson was diagnosed with not one but two extremely rare autoimmune diseases.

If there’s one thing we want you to learn from Mike’s story it’s to always listen to your body and go with your gut.

If Mike’s condition was caught earlier, things might be different today.

Mike Schwindt is weak now and walks with a cane.  Most recently, doctors had to amputate part of his left foot.

But this isn’t how his story started.

It actually began in November of 2017.

“I was working, riding bike 15 miles a day and I started losing energy,” Schwindt recalls. “It got to the point where I could not walk to the end of my yard and back.”

Multiple calls and visits to the doctor ensued, only for Mike to be told he may have arthritis.

Things didn’t get better.
“Two in the morning, I was sitting on the bathroom floor because I couldn’t stand, my feet were paralyzed, that’s where Lisa found me,” Schwindt says.

Even then, Mike was sent back home.
But that following Monday, Mike went to doctors in Bismarck who immediately diagnosed him with Guillain Barre, an extremely rare autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

After that diagnosis, he was getting stronger, but a year and a half later, another setback.

“Yeah, they were just like, ‘We’ve never seen this,'” says Lisa Schwindt, Mike’s wife.

Mike developed a cold that just wouldn’t go away.

“I was sleeping 16 hours a day. But when you go to the doctor, there’s nothing wrong, they send you home,” says Schwindt. “I’m not blaming them, don’t get me wrong.  This is so rare, who’s gonna check for this.”

After Mike noticed spots on his foot, doctors ran blood work and diagnosed him with another extremely rare autoimmune disease: Wegener’s disease.  
It’s totally different and totally unrelated to Guillain Barre.

This one attacks your arteries and vessels.

“Everything I’ve built from Guillain Barre, is gone again,” says Schwindt.

It was too late to save Mike’s foot. He’s still recovering from a partial amputation.

But, he says losing his foot was the easy part. Losing his freedom is what’s the hardest.

“There’s days. The emotions,” says Lisa Schwindt. “When he’s been the man who was always on the go, always had energy to do things and to watch him have to depend on everyone.”

To this day, Mike has a good attitude.

We asked him about being that one in a million, diagnosed with two extremely rare diseases.

“I’m lucky,” says Mike.
“You’d rather win the lottery?” we ask.
Mike laughs. “Yeah, I hear ya there…”
Both diseases are incurable but treatable. They could go into remission, or they could come back.
And while Mike’s future is uncertain, he’s hoping luck will be on his side, for once.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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