For Joy Crain, life now is mostly confined to staying inside her apartment. She sits on the only chair she can get up from. Almost two months ago, doctors say Crain had contracted the neuro-invasive West Nile virus.
"It's devastated me, taken my life away from me," she said.
Her older sister, Lisa Hampshire, knew something wasn't right. Joy is very independent, very close to her cats, and rarely asked for help. When Lisa got a call asking if she could make some soup, she knew to come over immediately.
"She said my head feels like it's gonna explode," said Hampshire.
All Joy remembers is spending some time outside with her great nephew. She did not know it would result in a trip to Medical City Plano. She could not move or speak. Staff at the hospital had to move quickly.
"She said she coded on me. She said we're gonna do everything we can to save her life. We were standing out in the hallway, and she said just go in the waiting room, we'll be there soon," Hampshire recalled a conversation with a Medical City Plano nurse.
For a sister, it was the longest hour in a waiting room.
"It's very scary. You're cognitively intact, and you wanna move, but you just cant," said Dr. Khang Tran, Chief Medical Officer at the hospital.
For 10 days, Joy did not move or talk and was in a complete fog. Recovery has been slow. On rare occasion, she does take small walks outside with the help of a walker, but only if her body will let her. Joy wants people to see what West Nile can do.
"It may take a year to recover, and I may not get any better," she said. Joy said she didn't think anything of the West Nile virus before her experience. She also did not expect it to happen to her in Frisco.
Dr. Tran says a third of West Nile patients do not recover and another third recover fully. "It could take a year, a year plus, depending on how much damage the virus caused the central nervous system," the doctor said.
The Center for Disease Control says the best way to avoid the West Nile virus is to first prevent mosquito bites.
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