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Dad paralysed by Guillain-Barré Syndrome reflects on journey

by Ozva Admin
Dad paralysed by Guillain-Barré Syndrome reflects on journey

Assam Iqbal has been living in almost a year Airedale Hospital after waking up from a nap unable to stand up.

He was in a coma for six weeks and faced a great battle against several life-threatening complications.

The Keighley father of four has had to relearn how to perform basic tasks, such as speaking, eating and drinking, holding his head up and much more.

He is now finishing the year with the ability to move his left and right legs forward with assistance.

But Asam’s mission to embrace a different way of living has taught him some of the most valuable lessons of all.

“Next time you raise your hand or finger or just scratch your face or head, think about that,” he said.

“You can’t even do that in this position. Think, ‘What a blessing.’ You don’t even think about it every day.

“We have these needs like life goals or money, it’s all this ‘I want, I want, I want.’ Our needs must be to be there for each other. People don’t know how big that is until you’re in the position where you’d rather have that.

“When I came out of the coma, when I realized what had happened and all these things that I had seen in my sleep, there were so many questions that I needed to answer and I couldn’t ask anyone because I couldn’t talk.

“Almost a year I have lived here. So many people I’ve seen. People need people. That’s the main.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Airedale Hospital patient Asam Iqbal in his wheelchair with ward manager Shinta Joseph, younger sister Becky Skinner, staff nurse Mel Scott, advanced clinician Mark Forsyth, hospital nurse staff Eva Hanley and healthcare support workers Rachel French, Jose Joseph, and Samila KauserAiredale Hospital patient Asam Iqbal in his wheelchair with ward manager Shinta Joseph, younger sister Becky Skinner, staff nurse Mel Scott, advanced clinician Mark Forsyth, staff nurse Eva Hanley and the healthcare support workers Rachel French, Jose Joseph, and Samila Kauser (Image: CGU)

“There is still a long way to go. How will I feel when I return to the world, it will not be like before. The whole home environment is going to be different.

“What will happen the day that I am walking? I can’t even imagine it. There will be many tears. I can’t wait to go back and hug all the nurses, staff, physios and thank them for all they have done.”

Reflecting on fatherhood during his Health ordeal, said: “My two youngest children are only six and seven years old. Now they are more used to seeing me like this. They are more themselves. Hopefully, this is going to be their creation. This is going to be a great life experience for them when they can get to the stage where they can understand what I am saying.

“I can’t wait to share it with them.”

Asam has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a serious condition that affects the nerves and often begins with symptoms in people’s feet and hands.

It can quickly spread to people’s arms and legs and, in the most severe cases, affect someone’s ability to move, walk, breathe, and swallow.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Asam Iqbal, father of four from Keighley, pictured during his treatment in ICU at Airedale HospitalAsam Iqbal, father of four from Keighley, pictured during his treatment in the ICU at Airedale Hospital (Image: CGU)

“When you are in this position and you lose everything physically, you also lose your emotions,” Asam said.

“You lose your feelings. Now I have reached the stage where I can’t move but my feelings are coming back. When it’s night and I feel like walking around and I can’t do it, I can’t move to the side.

“The physio is a bit slow now.

“My legs, I can’t really use them. I’m still on a hoist. Things are just slow.

“That’s the way it is with this disease.”

Asam is waiting for final adjustments to be made to his home and a personal wheelchair.

In the meantime, he’s looking for a private physiotherapist to help jumpstart his recovery outside of NHS sessions.

“My entire journey has been here with ICU staff,” he said.

“Everyone has been a part of this journey, I prefer to have these guys there when I take my first steps. Deep down I don’t want to do it [get private physio] but I have to think of myself.

“There is still much more to come on the journey. I would say that it is only the beginning. There will be many more feelings coming back.”

He added: “You never know how strong you are until you have to be strong.”

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