Breaking News
The Student News Site of Berlin High School

The Red 'n' Green

The Student News Site of Berlin High School

The Red 'n' Green

The Student News Site of Berlin High School

The Red 'n' Green

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Alumna recovers from rare disease

Harmony+Geier+received+her+diagnosis+of+Guillain+Barre+Dec.+25.+She+is+now+recovering+and+expected+to+make+a+full+recovery.+
Christian Geier
Harmony Geier received her diagnosis of Guillain Barre Dec. 25. She is now recovering and expected to make a full recovery.

Former student and recent graduate, Harmony Geier ‘23, was diagnosed with mononucleosis which developed into her final diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, Guillain Barre Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder in which a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of their peripheral nervous system—the network of nerves that carries signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Like many illnesses, Geier’s symptoms presented minute in the beginning.
“We took her to the doctor after she had been feeling kind of lousy and really tired. She then started peeing a little blood. They did seven hours of numerous tests and they diagnosed her with mono, her spleen and lymph nodes were swollen,” Harmony’s father Christian Geier said.
Harmony was sent home to rest and recover from her illness. This illness is fairly common and most patients will recover within a few weeks. However, that was not the case for Harmony. It was not until Christmas morning that they decided it might be something more.
“She was taken back to Berlin Hospital after complaining of tingling in her hands and feet, double vision, and breaking out in hives. She could barely walk by this time,” Harmony’s grandmother Fran Geier said. “After a remote neurology consult, it was determined that an MRI was needed, so she was transported by ambulance to the Neurology Department at ThedaCare Hospital in Neenah. After the MRI, a painful spinal tap, and electromyography (tiny needle electrodes into the muscles to measure degree of numbness), it was confirmed that she had Guillain-Barre Syndrome.”
Though the exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, the disorder typically will appear days or weeks after a respiratory or digestive tract infection. In Harmony’s case it was the mono that caused the syndrome. After arriving in Neenah she experienced a serious, rapid decline.
“They had to intubate her on Wednesday Dec. 27 to keep her alive and tube feed her as well. This all happened in like 72 hours from being a healthy 18-year-old home on college break to being paralyzed from the neck down. She was intubated and basically almost in a coma-like state for about 10 days,” Christian said. “After that time they did see some improvements in her ability to breathe and went to extubate her Sunday Jan. 7 and after only a few hours she went into Afib (atrial fibrillation) and was choking to death on her saliva and the humidified oxygen they were giving her through a mask. They had to do an emergency intubation again to keep her alive.”
Since this traumatic incident things have been looking up. Harmony was able to be moved out of the intensive care unit after two weeks and back to the neurology wing. Harmony is also now able to eat soft foods and is participating in in-patient physical therapy.
“I would like to thank this community. They have been wonderful with the support that they have shown us and her. It’s truly amazing to be honest how everyone can pull together and support her,” Christian said.
After hearing news of last year’s graduate’s diagnosis, English teacher Angela Femali was quick to take action.
“Harmony was in my homeroom throughout her high school years and also had several classes with me. We had a connection and she’s also friends with my daughter,” Femali said.
Femali organized a jean day for staff where they paid $5 to wear jeans for the day and the proceeds went to Harmony. They were able to raise about $250.
“I’m grateful to work with such caring staff in a tight knit community. It has always felt like family to me working here with these colleagues and events like this prove it. I also like to think that we set an example for our students and are sending kind, generous, caring young adults out into the world,” Femali said.
With Harmony’s treatments planned out they are hoping she will recover in time to return to UW-Stout in the fall to continue her major in fashion and design.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jane Hoffman, Reporter
Jane Hoffman is a Berlin High School senior. She is excited to spend her last year of high school writing for the Red ‘n’ Green as editor-in-chief. She is a part of the varsity volleyball and basketball teams. She is also a member of the yearbook club and National Honors Society.