Member Fights Dangerous West Nile Virus 08/28/2013
Joe Tarvainis wasn’t sure he’d ever walk the track at Edward Health & Fitness Center. After being striken with the West Nile virus, Tarvainis was partially paralyzed on his right side. He spent several weeks in Edward Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit followed by several months of rehabilitation and therapy.
To continue on the road to a full recovery, Joe became a member of EHFC in April. Recently, he traded in his wheelchair for a walker and hopes to use only a cane very soon.
Here’s Joe's story:
Q: What do you remember about first becoming ill?
A: “It was Labor Day 2012 weekend. I felt like I had a cold with a bad fever. I tried to get up out of bed and I fell. The next thing I remember is waking up to the voices of Naperville paramedics, standing over me. I thought I had a stroke. Blood tests confirmed that I had a serious infection of West Nile virus and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It caused me to lose my voice, hearing, and eye pressure, and I became partially paralyzed form my waist down on my right side.”
Q: Why did you join EHFC?
A: “In rehab, I used fitness machines to build arm and leg strength as well as help my balance. I was looking for a gym that offered the same type of equipment so I could continue my progress. Edward has it all! I live very close to the Naperville campus, and now that I can drive again, it is very convenient.”
Q: Tell us more about your fitness journey.
A: “I use the fitness equipment and I walk laps around the track with my walker. The staff lets me bring someone who can follow behind with my wheelchair. The layout of the facility is easy to get around, and there are two pieces of everything, so I can access the machines when I want. The facility is extremely clean, and the staff is helpful.”
Q: Why is fitness important to you?
A: “For me, fitness is about getting back to being 100 percent. I want to walk with just a cane, and I think I should be able to do that soon. I’m seeing so much progress from my workouts, and being a member at EHFC gives me the accessibility to the types of equipment I need to continue my recovery."
Q: What do you want people to learn from your illness?
A: “The West Nile virus is devastating. I want people to be aware of the symptoms – high fevers, body aches, sudden muscle weakness, headaches, and fatigue to name a few. Take this disease seriously, and take the necessary precautionary steps. It can happen in your own backyard. I’m also here to show people you can survive, like me.”