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Amarillo man spreads awareness about rare Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) disease

Amarillo man spreads awareness about rare Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) disease. (ABC 7 Amarillo- file photo)

A rare illness paralyzing children is spreading across the country and is also affecting adults. It's been four years since 34-year-old Ryan Turner was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) disease.

"Woke up one morning and had double vision and my feet were numb. I went to the emergency room and got sent home saying it was flu like symptoms, and the 3rd trip to the ER that day I was basically paralyzed from the chest down by that evening,"

said Turner.

Even after these symptoms, doctors here in Amarillo still couldn't identify what is was. Turner then spent a week in intensive care to learn how to walk again. After being sent home, he still was not feeling good and ended up back in the hospital for 10

days.

"At that point they had did my MRI's over and saw lesions on my brain stem and my spinal cord which changed my diagnosis to something called transverse myelitis," said Turner.

The disease is common in children but Turner wants others to know adults can get it too.

"I had the same markers on the MRI where the lesions were in my brain and in my spin which were consisted with what they were seeing in the children," said Turner.

According to the CDC, the disease first appeared in 2014 when 120 cases were confirmed. There have been 62 cases confirmed nationally so far this year with eight cases being in Texas.

Ryan said early treatment can mean less long term damage.

"It took me three or four days before I started getting any treatment after I was at the hospital because they didn't know what was going on, and even after that they were treating me for something different than what I actually had."

He has tried a dozen of different medications but he continues to have health issues.

"I have permanent damage in my brain stem and my spinal cord. My legs are still affected, they're shaky and weak so I still have a lot of tingling and burning in the lower part of my body. I also had problems with sleep," said Turner.

Turner says he wants patients to be aware of the neurological symptoms and to be sure they ask their doctor when they are getting evaluated.

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