West Nile virus has been reported in six counties across the state this year.
It’s a disease that can affect people in many different ways– some more serious than others.
Last week we told you about Julie Schirado, who is a very special person to the KX News team, and her brother who was diagnosed with West Nile over a year ago. He has one of the most severe cases of the disease. Julie and her brother sat down with us to share their journey through it all.
“Well, that’s where I was kind of in disbelief. I was shocked because I remember joking about it and getting it and then I woke up one day and I had it,” says Doug Schirado.
People who get the West Nile virus mostly have mild symptoms which usually don’t go reported. Schirado, however, was in the one percent of cases that contracted the severe illness.
“All I know is a few of them down there told me I shouldn’t be alive and that I had a really really horrible case,” says Schirado.
Doug’s sister, Julie Schirado says, “He was diagnosed with encephalitis and meningitis first and then the West Nile Virus. And then from the West Nile came Guillain-Barre, numerous amounts of pneumonia, and he had a couple of blood transfusions. It was chaos and nobody knew how to treat him and there really isn’t a treatment for West Nile.”
Doug has always been active his whole life and even runs his own construction business. He said after getting bit by a mosquito last year, which felt more like a wasp bite, everything went downhill. He was in a coma for months and when he woke up he couldn’t talk or move.
“Ever since I woke up, I couldn’t move whatsoever. I couldn’t even close my eyes and everything has gotten a little better over time,” says Doug. “I have a little bit of movement in my shoulders and legs and I can move my arm a little bit. But everything is gradually working out a little bit slow–so it teaches you to be patient.”
And Doug has been patient. He continues physical and speech therapy nearly five times a week. And for months he could only communicate through a notebook by pointing at letters to spell out sentences … and he still has problems most people can’t even imagine.
“My swallowing doesn’t seem to be working and that’s been really tough for me,” says Schirado. “Probably more tough than anything else because I haven’t eaten or drunken anything for over a year. And I may be getting a little used to it–but I really do miss eating and drinking.”
But even with all his struggles, Schirado friends and family says he’s been humble through it all.
“Attitude is everything for the fight and it doesn’t matter what you are going through in life, but when a disease like that hits you it doesn’t matter if it’s West Nile or cancer, your attitude is so important,” Julie tells KX.
“The best advice I can give to you is wear mosquito repellant. Well, I really have no other choice… if you are not positive you might as well throw in the towel and its not going to help me to be negative and that’s the best way I can describe it,” says Doug.
Doug’s fundraiser did raiser over $30,000 last week. Julie and Doug are so thankful for all the community support, but he still has a ways to go.
Doug is slowly but surely progressing and tells KX when he is better he can’t wait to start cooking again. If you do want to help you can donate to his GoFundMe, click here.