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Man recovers from encephalitis after 65 days in three different hospitals

Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 17:02:22-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After 65 days in three different hospitals, a Michigan man is getting back to his normal life.
Gary Shepherd battled encephalitis, severe swelling of the brain, brought on by West Nile Virus for nearly three months.

Now he's back home in Onaway, Michigan, after completing rehab at Mary Free Bed.

“In three days, it went right to pieces. They had to pick me up in an ambulance here and take me to Petoskey,” Shepherd said.

After that, Gary got worse. He doesn't remember any of his early hospital stays due to the swelling of his brain.

He couldn't remember anything, write his name, and could hardly walk when he got to Mary Free Bed.

Now, Gary can do all of those things.

“The therapists there were just flat out amazing. They don’t give you any breaks. You see at least four therapists a day, sometimes as many as six…they’ll give you all you can handle,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd says he's grateful for the therapists and doctors that could help him get back to a normal life. He lives on a farm in Onaway, and loves making maple syrup and maintaining his vegetable stand.

For a while, Gary didn't think he'd be able to do any of those things ever again. To give you an idea how bad the outlook was--Gary's daughter's had to have a plan to Mary Free Bed to provide 24/7 care for him after he left their facility for a minimum of 6 months, and as long as a year.

Gary didn't end up needing that care, because his recovery was so great. After about a month inpatient and a stint in outpatient rehab, he returned home to his farm in February and is back doing what he loves.

You know, I saw my neurologist from Mary Free Ded, doctor Yablon, a week ago Monday. And he graduated me. He says you made as much as and as full recovery as we can imagine,” Shepherd said.