Man's Health Takes Unexpected Turn After COVID, Finds Care in Connecticut

A Massachusetts man experienced the unthinkable after contracting COVID in May. A rare disease known as GBS.

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"There were days where I thought I was going to be in that bed the rest of my life," said Lenny Lamarre.

The 55-year-old from Chicopee, Massachusetts got COVID on May 26. Little did he know, he would have another uphill battle two weeks later.

"My legs started getting very weak. By that Thursday, I couldn't walk. My legs were totally paralyzed, and by Friday the paralysis started moving up my body," said Lammare.

Lamarre became ill with a rare disease known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS, which typically occurs after a viral infection. GBS affects 2 in 100,000 people every year. 

"The body inappropriately attacks itself, typically the nerves or the nervous system," said Franklin Wendt, a Nurse Practitioner at Gaylord Hospital. 

But Lamarre found the right care in Connecticut, spending five weeks in the ICU at Midstate Medical Center in Meriden. 

"I needed help breathing, couldn't speak unless they put a special insert in, where I could actually make sound," said Lamarre.

In July, He moved to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, where he continues to regain his strength. 

A constant inspiration for Lamarre was his aid and mobility tech, Mary Kitchings, who had GBS 10 years before him. He says seeing her be able to walk gave him hope.

"I couldn't walk, I couldn't speak. I couldn't lift my hands up. I know it was meant for us to connect," said Kitchings.

Mary says it took her about 8 weeks to start walking again and she is noticing similar improvement in Lamarre. He can now breathe on his own, move his arms, and stand.

"When you're lying in your bed, and you can't move, and you can't speak, it's really hard to believe people when they say, 'You'll beat this. You will walk again.' That's a very difficult thing to believe," said Lamarre. "But when I watch Mary, she's running around here like the Energizer Bunny." 

Lamarre will be taking big steps himself when he gets released from the hospital September 2, just in time to move his daughter to school.

"Just being able to take that ride, see her off, and come home with the rest of the family. That was a little goal I set for myself. The fact that that may actually happen is very encouraging," said Lamarre.

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