GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) – A Goddard teacher has returned to class after contracting a rare syndrome that made her face numb and made it difficult for her to talk and walk.
Kari Scheer is a first grade teacher at Clark Davidson Elementary School in Goddard. This is her 23rd year of teaching.
During the Thanksgiving break last year, he wasn’t feeling well; little did he know it would turn into a weeks-long battle.
“Tired, cold, I thought you knew I’m a teacher. Kids give you things all the time,” Scheer said.
She took a day off work in hopes of getting better. She came back the next day, thinking her illness was going away. Instead, things got worse. Her face began to drop and she went numb.
Her husband took her to the doctor, the first of many visits to come. She was given medication after a visit to immediate care and the emergency room.
“I kept saying maybe the medicine will work today every morning I wake up, maybe the steroid will work, maybe the antiviral will work, and it just wasn’t working,” Scheer said.
She said that something new happened to her body every day.
Suddenly, she was no longer a self-sufficient mom of four.
“My husband was doing everything for me. He bathed me, brushed my teeth, fed me,” Scheer said.
Emergency room doctors told her she had Bell’s palsy, a neurological disorder that causes paralysis or weakness on one side of the face.
Scheer continued to get worse. She went to her GP, who said it was serious, so she went back to the ER.
“They did an MRI, they did a CAT scan, they did every possible blood test imaginable, and they said, ‘No, I think this is just Bell’s palsy,’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m very weak in my arms, and I’m worried,’ and he was like, ‘I just think it’s atypical,’” Scheer said.
On December 11, Scheer’s husband called her father, who said she had to go to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis after falling down the stairs.
Doctors told her she had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
“You get a virus of some kind. It could be flu for me. I tested positive for COVID, so it was COVID, so something like that. It starts affecting your nerves,” Scheer said.
She was hospitalized and underwent plasma treatment for five days. Scheer said doctors have told her she may need to stay in the hospital.
“That meant I was going to be spending Christmas in an inpatient physical therapy facility, so obviously I was devastated,” Scheer said.
But she didn’t give up.
“I just decided I was going to work my tail off to be able to not have to,” Scheer said.
Scheer worked every day to get her body moving. She spent nine days in the hospital and was able to go home for Christmas.
“I just have to stay positive because I knew if I went down, it was never going to get better,” Scheer said.
All that time, Scheer said her students were also on her mind. He remembered the lens he gave them to keep an eye on the target.
“I told him when I got back, I said my target was you,” Scheer said.
After eight weeks out of the classroom, the longtime teacher returned to work in late January.
On her first day back, she was greeted with hugs and excitement.
“And I came home that night, and my husband said, ‘I think you have more movement in your face today,’ and I said, ‘I think I have too, and I think it’s the kids.'” said Scheer.
She said her family, students and community all played a part.
“I think believing that God was there for me, that he was going to help me through this, that everything was going to be okay because, damn it, I had thousands of people praying for me, so why shouldn’t he,” Scheer said.
Scher is still working on improving how she talks to a therapist. Part of her face still isn’t moving at all, doctors said it could be six months or more before she’s back to normal.
The community has come out with cards, messages, prayers, calls and financial aid. She said a stranger even sent her $1,000.
Scheer said this experience showed her how much good there is in the world.
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