Oklahoma Man Finds Truth Behind His Medical Mystery

An Oklahoma man finds himself in a medical emergency. His body slowly started losing feeling - one muscle at a time.

Wednesday, July 15th 2015, 11:00 pm

By: News 9

An Oklahoma man finds himself in a medical emergency. His body slowly started losing feeling - one muscle at a time. And once he got to the emergency room, it only got worse, leaving him with more questions than answers.

"Slowly improving each day," said Rocky Root of Okeene.

Determined to walk again, Root practiced on a set of walking bars installed just outside of his home in Okeene, but it's no easy task. Just five months ago, even a few small steps were impossible for him to make.

"It all came on pretty fast," he said.

Back in February, he was having bladder troubles. Thinking the doctors took care of the problem, he woke up the next day in a panic.

"I couldn't feel my legs, like they were asleep real bad," he remembers.

So he went back to the emergency room.

"By the time the first MRI was done, I wasn't able to walk," he said.

Paralysis was taking over his body and his doctors couldn't figure out why.

"They were pretty much stumped for quite a while," he said. "They started giving me some steroids to fight whatever it was."

Doctors conducted test after test - all coming back with no answers. Frustrated with what was happening to him, Root decided to go to OU Medical Center for a second opinion.

"As soon as I got there, they started giving me more MRI's, CAT scans, everything you can think of," Root said.

Finally, after a month of tests, they discovered he has a rare auto-immune disease called transverse myelitis, that attacks the spinal cord. Integris neurologist Dr. Farhat Husain says the disease affects eight out of one million people. So rare, many doctors don't catch it.

"Doctors who are not used to seeing the patients with transverse myelitis may misdiagnose it as neuropathy and they sometimes think it is arthritis," said Husain.

Once patients get the correct diagnosis, Husain says it is treatable, but getting full mobility back isn't guaranteed.

"If motor involvement is severe right from the beginning, spasticity and weakness may remain," she said.

However, Root continues to fight through his weakness with physical therapy.

"They hooked electrodes to me and started shocking my legs, I got my muscle tone back right away," Root said. "They got me from just being able to move my toe to being able to walk in a walker."

Now able to ditch the wheelchair completely, Root walks with canes every chance he gets.

"I've got four kids, I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life like that," he said. "My goal is to get back to work and support my family like I should be. I'm going that ways anyways."

The causes for transverse myelitis vary. It can occur on its own, following a viral infection or be a manifestation of another disorder like multiple sclerosis.


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