GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) — A Goddard teacher is back in the classroom after getting a rare syndrome that caused her face to go numb and made it difficult for her to talk and walk.
Kari Scheer is a 1st-grade teacher at Clark Davidson Elementary School in Goddard. This is her 23rd year teaching.
Over Thanksgiving break this past year, she wasn’t feeling great; little did she know it would turn into a weeks-long battle.
“Tired, cold, I kind of just assumed you know I’m a teacher. Kids give you stuff all the time,” said Scheer.
She took a day off of work in hopes of getting better. She returned the next day, thinking that her illness was going away. Instead, things got worse. Her face began to drop and became 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 ER.
“I just kept saying maybe the medicine will work today every morning I wake up, maybe the steroid is going to work, maybe the antiviral is going to work, and it just it wasn’t working,” said Scheer.
She said every day, something new was happening to her body.
Suddenly, she was no longer a self-sufficient mom of four.
“My husband was doing everything for me. He was bathing me, he was brushing my teeth, he was feeding me,” said Scheer.
ER doctors told her that 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 got in with her family doctor, who said this is serious, so she went back to the ER.
“They did an MRI, they did a CT scan, they did every possible blood work you could imagine, 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 said ‘I just think it is atypical,'” said Scheer.
On Dec. 11, Scheer’s husband called her father, who said she needed to go to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis after falling on the stairs.
Doctors there 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 sort. It could be influenza for me. I did test positive for COVID, so it was COVID, so something like that. It starts to affect your nerves,” said Scheer.
She was admitted to the hospital and given plasma treatment for five days. Scheer said doctors told her she may have to stay in inpatient care.
“That meant I was going to spend Christmas in an inpatient facility in physical therapy, so of course, I was devastated,” said Scheer.
But she didn’t give up.
“I just decided I was going to work my tail to be able to not have to do that,” said Scheer.
Scheer worked each 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 keep positive because I knew if I got down, it was never going to get better,” said Scheer.
That entire time, Scheer said her students were also on her mind. She remembered the goal she gives them to keep their eye on the target.
“I told them when I came back, I said my target was you,” said Scheer.
After eight weeks out of the classroom, the long-time teacher returned to work at the end of January.
On the 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 do too, and I think it is the kids,'” said Scheer.
She said her family, students, and community all played a role.
“I think believing that God was there for me, that he was going to get me through this, that it was going to be fine because darn it, I had thousands of people praying for me, so why wouldn’t it,” said Scheer.
Scher is still working to improve her speech with a therapist. Some of her face is still not fully moving, doctors said it can be six months or longer until it’s back to normal.
The community came out with cards, texts, prayers, calls, and financial help. She said a stranger even sent her $1,000.
Scheer said this experience proved to her how much good there is in the world.
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