Four western Wisconsin men recover from rare disease

Western Wisconsin (WQOW)- In 2016, Terry Vergin thought he pulled a muscle in his leg. Within hours it progressed into something much worse.

“My wife hollered into me, she said are you going to get out of bed? I said not without your help. I couldn’t get my legs over the side of the bed,” Vergin said.

Things got worse from there, until a doctor finally diagnosed him with Guillain Barre Syndrome.

“They begin to affect your respiratory muscles, facial muscles, the muscles you use to swallow,” said Anne Pretasky a critical care nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart. “There are some people who experience this severely that they need to be hospitalized and on a ventilator for a time.”

The rare autoimmune disease only impacts 3,000-4,000 Americans a year, and in Anne Pretasky’s 26-year nursing career, she’s seen fewer than 10 patients with this syndrome, so four people in the same area seems like a lot.

“I could only move my neck, couldn’t move my arms or shoulders or anything,” Mike Kellen said.

“I was fortunate that it just affected my waist down. My hands, my arms really weren’t affected,” Gary Hausdorf said.

“Thursday night when I went to bed and woke up the next morning I could hardly walk across the room and at night I couldn’t walk, ” Jim Czerwonka said.

The question is: how did these men get this illness?

Terry, Gary and Jim all claim it was the flu shot or a form of the flu that triggered this syndrome Mike said it’s still a mystery.

“There is also a little bit of association with traumatic events, surgery, bacterial infections and then there has been some thought that immunizations, a variety of immunizations, not just the flu shot could potentially be tied to the disease process,” Pretasky said.

The one thing they all had trouble with was walking again.

“My one toe must’ve moved a little and she let a yell out of her for helpers to come see, ‘hey his toe moved,'” Czerwonka said.

Recovery from this syndrome is slow, it can take several months to see just a little progress.

Luckily, all four men are no longer paralyzed, but still, they take it one day at a time.

“Concentrate on what you’re doing. That ground isn’t soft no matter where you land,” Vergin said.



More News

Rice Lake
New Richmond
Black River Falls
River Falls
Green Bay
La Crosse
Twin Cities
Weather Outlook: Cold front to bring changes to the Chippewa Valley

Weather Outlook: Cold front to bring changes to the Chippewa Valley

The cold front in Minnesota this afternoon will mover through tonight and tomorrow, bringing rain chances and fall like temperatures

Connect With WQOW
Top Stories

UPDATE: 4 from Loyal, including 3 kids, killed in Apostle Island kayak incident

Sheriff Michael Brennan said Erik Fryman, 39, and his kids 3, 6 and 9-years-old died. The mom, Cari Mews, 29,

NEW: Missing Mondovi man found dead Wednesday afternoon

According to Mondovi Police Chief Colin Severson, the department is looking or Nathan D. Kummer who was reported missing by

UPDATE: Gas leak contained in Boyd

Boyd's fire chief told News 18 crews were digging up a leaking water line at Double D's Saloon and workers

Sex offender faces new charges in Eau Claire

A convicted sex offender living in Eau Claire is charged with two counts of first degree sexual assault of a

UPDATE: Middleton shooter was employee of business where he opened fire

The Middlelton Police department sent a phone message to residents about an active shooter.

Scroll to top
Skip to content