'In a state of delirium': Kauai man battles debilitating nerve disease with the help of family

'In a state of delirium': Kauai man battles debilitating nerve disease with the help of family

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Crystal and Josh Walters exchanged their sacred vows 14 years ago, but the words "in sickness and in health" mean so much more to the young couple now.

Together, they built a family and a life on Kauai. Crystal worked as a massage therapist and Josh as a carpenter. He had just about finished their house this summer when he got sick.

"It all started with a virus that I got," said Josh who, at the time, thought it was just a normal cold or possibly the flu — nothing he thought he couldn't overcome. Soon, he felt better and went back to work.

But, two days later, he says something changed.

"I started getting dizzy. My fingertips and toes started getting numb," Walters said. His wife Crystal knew something more serious was going on.

Josh was rushed to the emergency room on Kauai where a doctor made the diagnosis: Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

His immune system fought the initial virus, but with Guillain-Barre his immune response got out of control and began eating away at lining of his nerves.

Eventually, he was flown to Oahu and put on a ventilator. He woke up more than a week later.

"I was in a state of delirium - I started yelling at people, which I never do," Josh said.

"It was frightening to see him in that state because he is such a calm and mellow person," Crystal said. "I thought about our children and the possibility of them growing up without their dad. That really, really took a lot."

But slowly and with a lot of help, Josh improved.

"I had to learn how to walk again, talk again, eat. Drinking water has taken on a whole new meaning," Josh said.

Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe account to help them recover. You can learn more about Guillain-Barre Syndrome here.

His wife Crystal says that she is committed to sticking with josh through this difficult time in their lives.

"Know that we are going to do this together, I will be by your side. I am not going to leave," Crystal told Josh.

Josh said Crystal's support has been integral in getting him through the symptoms, stress and sadness that comes with the diagnosis.

"She was the only person I could hear the only voice that was there and she would bring me back," Josh said.

Soon Josh's children were also by his side on Oahu.

"That was huge - it sparked something in me where I was willing to work hard again," Josh said.

As the family finishes Josh's treatment on Oahu, they will prepare to return home to Kauai. Both Josh and Crystal have had to stop working since Josh became sick and likely won't be able to return to work for some time.

Today, Josh still has a long road to complete recovery. He is walking with a cane and uses an eye patch to correct his vision, but overall, his prognosis is good.

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