Marantec Salesman Recovers From Sudden Paralysis

© 2004 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2004
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 58-60

Marantec Salesman Recovers From Sudden Paralysis

On Christmas Day 2003, Gerry Mosby sat down for breakfast, planning to soon drive to Christmas dinner a few miles from his Oceanside, Calif., home.

As he got up from the table, the 58-year-old garage door industry veteran noticed that his feet and legs felt strangely weak. The feeling was alarming enough to call the doctor, who told him to come in immediately.

“Like a fool, I drove myself,” recalls Mosby, a sales representative for Marantec America. “By the time I got there, I could hardly lift my legs to step on the brake.”

Within four hours, Mosby had lost all feeling below his waist. All bowel and bladder control was gone. “You could have hit me in the leg with a sledge hammer, and I wouldn’t have felt it,” he says.

A Rare Condition

After Mosby had spent three days in the hospital, doctors finally diagnosed the problem. Mosby had “arteriovenous malformation of the spinal core.” The rare condition is sometimes called AV Syndrome.

“I have a blood vessel on the spine that doesn’t belong there,” Mosby explains. “One out of every half-million people grow one. For some reason, after 58 years, it decided to get active.”

On New Year’s Eve night, a specialist, Dr. Charles Kerber, performed an angioplasty of the spine to repair the problem blood vessel and restore blood flow to the nerve cells. The surgery was successful, but doctors were cautious about Gerry’s prognosis.

“Much later, the doctors told me that they figured I might be able to walk after a year, while some felt I would never walk again, or I would need to be assisted,” he recalls. “I’m glad they didn’t tell me that, because I was determined to get out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

Even though Mosby could feel some tingling in his feet and legs after the surgery, progress was slow. Due to his inability to walk, he lost 30 pounds in 33 days in the hospital. “My legs were just bones with skin hanging on them.”

Back to Work

Even though he was essentially immobilized, he made an effort to continue working. He even made phone calls to customers from the hospital and processed orders with a laptop.

He proudly says, “I set up a new account on my cell phone while I was still in the hospital.”

Mosby worked hard to make progress, religiously following his therapy regimen. After about three weeks, he could transfer himself from the bed to the wheelchair without help.

“Every day, something new would work,” he remembers. By late January, Mosby moved into an assisted-living center where nursing assistance was available if needed.

In late February, he could stand up, an event that was almost miraculous. “I muscled my way through everything.” Determined to make progress, he continued to work part time and finally moved out of assisted living in early March.

Showing Off

That’s when his determination forced a major breakthrough. He actually walked a few steps on his own.

At his next appointment with Dr. Kerber, Gerry was eager to show off his progress. When the doctor came into the treatment room, Gerry stood up, walked a few steps, and shook the doctor’s hand.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” remarked Dr. Kerber. “Damn, I do good work, don’t I?”

Mosby’s other doctor had the entire medical staff come in to witness Gerry walking. “They all said they never saw an AV Syndrome patient walk within a year, unassisted.”

The wheelchair, however, still remained Mosby’s primary mode of transportation. To help, Marantec rented a handicapped van with wheelchair access for him.

Handicapped Parking

He remembers one visit to a door dealer in Oceanside who was located in a business complex. Because someone had parked in the handicapped parking space in front of the dealer’s door, Mosby had to drive the van around to the back. He exited the van in his wheelchair and wheeled himself in the back door of the dealer’s shop.

The dealer was very apologetic. “I didn’t mind parking in the rear,” he says, “but she was very nice. I sold her two pallets of operators that day.”

Mosby’s experience has given him “a whole new view of people in wheelchairs. Whenever I see somebody in a wheelchair, I try to help. It also makes you appreciate the simple things, just taking a short walk for pleasure.”

Not a Quitter

Mosby’s remarkable recovery is amazing by any standard. “The man is a fighter; he just wouldn’t give in,” says Bill Wahler, Marantec’s national sales director.

Some of Mosby’s determination comes naturally. Before working in the door and access systems industry, he served in the military and 25 years as a Los Angeles County Reserve Deputy Sheriff. Rugged experience sometimes produces rugged people.

“I’m not a quitter,” he says.

Amazing Recovery

Thanks to Gerry’s determination and Marantec’s special van, he returned to full-time work by late March. Gerry used that van for almost three months. But by late summer, he was out of that wheelchair and back on his feet.

In June, he proudly said, “I can walk. I can squat. I can walk up and down stairs and drive a car. And if I hang on to the side of the treadmill, I can even run.”

He’s not back to 100 percent. “I still have some things that don’t work. Some nerves at the base of my back died,” he explains. “Those nerves are important to getting my balance back, and I hope they will regenerate. Plus, I’m fighting some spasms, but they say the spasms will eventually stop.”

A Setback

In August, some spinal problems began to return, and an MRI revealed that the paralysis might be returning. Doctors determined that they need to do more surgery to remove a specific blood vein around his spinal cord. The surgery was then scheduled for October.

“If they pull out the right blood vein, that should cure it,” says Gerry. “But if they snip the wrong thing, I’ll be in a chair forever.”

In spite of the possible danger, Gerry is optimistic. “This next spinal surgery should put me home free.”

Regardless of the outcome, Mosby’s story is a remarkable story of determination … another industry veteran who meets his problems head-on.

Gerry’s major achievement still stands. “No AV Syndrome patient has ever walked unassisted in less than a year,” he says.

“But I did.”

Editor’s Note: Our winter issue will report on the results of Gerry’s surgery. Stay tuned.