Michael Coleman

What is GBS? Inside the Disease That Almost Took Michael Coleman’s Life

in Opinion

Michael Coleman is an experienced character actor, director, producer, educator, and mentor who has appeared on the popular television show “Once Upon a Time.” His production company, Rebel West Pictures, has some feature films in the pipeline, including the film Thirty-Seventeen. He has also produced and directed films like The Best Day Ever.

He is the owner of the “Story Institute,” a Vancouver academy for aspiring actors of all ages. The Story Institute has fostered the careers of several successful young actors, allowing them to begin prosperous careers in the field.

Coleman attended college but quickly discovered that he would rather learn from the source than in an academic environment. He became a working actor, taking a diversity of roles on such shows as Supernatural and Smallville. He is also a voice actor with credits on Hamtaro and Dragonball Z. Happy on “Once Upon a Time” is his best-known recurring role.

Michael Coleman is a survivor of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. This devastating disease occurs when the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves and causes paralysis, muscle weakness, and debilitating pain. This disease has no known cause, though it is possibly triggered by a digestive tract or respiratory infection. Immunizations and surgery are rare triggers for the disease.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome or GBS is most common in young men, but it can occur in any age group. The most common trigger is thought to be a campylobacter infection. Campylobacter is a rare infection stemming from undercooked poultry. Other possible triggers include influenza and cytomegalovirus. Most frequently, as in Michael Coleman’s case, there are no known triggers, and the disease appears without warning.

GBS has many serious complications. Patients may be unable to breathe and may need to be placed on a ventilator to survive. Cardiovascular problems may occur, including blood pressure and heart rhythm irregularities. Patients may experience bowel and bladder problems. They may also develop blood clots and bedsores due to their immobility. While most patients recover completely, numbness and pain may continue after the patient has recovered from the disease.

Coleman’s struggle with GBS began when he was suddenly stricken by overwhelming weakness and nerve dysfunction. The disease progressed slowly for the first few weeks with a few scattered symptoms like balance problems, but then he was overwhelmed with pain and a cold sensation.

He went to the emergency room, and the doctors were unable to find anything wrong with him. They recommended that he go home and wait for the symptoms to pass on their own, but he insisted on staying and receiving more diagnostic tests. These tests saved his life.

While Coleman was in the hospital, he lost the ability to swallow, blink, and breathe on his own. The disease ravaged his nerves, leaving him unable to walk. As he recovered, he needed extensive physical and occupational therapy to be able to live a normal life again. His tenacity in fighting the disease caused him to make more rapid progress in his recovery than most patients with GBS.

Coleman’s incredible strength in the face of the disease enabled him to regain function on an almost normal level, though he does experience some lingering neurological symptoms.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare disease that most often strikes without warning. It presents a serious challenge to a patient’s survival. With overwhelming symptoms that cause immobility and the inability to breathe, GBS can be fatal in extreme cases. Patients like Coleman are good examples of fighting back against this severe physical condition. More research is necessary to determine the exact causes of GBS and to prevent it from afflicting patients into the future.

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