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9/25/13 WBRZ 2 Your Health News Story on Former Patient, Russell Comeaux

 "Surviving the West Nile Virus"

BATON ROUGE - One year after getting the West Nile virus, a local man is back on his feet. Russell Comeaux was diagnosed with the virus Oct. 26 of last year. He said what started out as a high fever ended up being a brush with death.

"I started to have respiratory failure, had the... feeding tubes, the whole nine yards, called in the family, priest, it was pretty bad," Comeaux explained. "I think a lot of people don't realize what the invasive kind of West Nile can do, I know I didn't."

Comeaux spent two months in bed and lost 60 pounds. He couldn't lift more than two pounds by the time he made it to the Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital. A team of therapists worked with Comeaux, first teaching him to sit up, crawl, then walk on his own. They said his recovery process was similar to working with a newborn child. He had so much muscle loss that he had to start from the very beginning, re-learning how to use every muscle in his body.

"It was a helpless feeling," Comeaux said. "You don't know what you can do, but they know what you can do and how far they can push you, you've got to have somebody pushing you."

Now Comeaux walks with the assistance of a cane. He continues to come in for therapy, driving himself, in order to work on balance and strength. He says he looks at life a little different now, appreciating every moment more than before his close call. He says this is his second chance to live, and he knows he is here for a reason.

"You don't know what you were saved for, but until you find out, you try to be a better person," he said.


Spinal Cord Injury Survivor Shares Motivational Story at Free Lunch & Learn

BATON ROUGE, La. – As part of National Rehabilitation Awareness week, Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital (BRRH) will host a September 17 Lunch and Learn event featuring Paul Erway, spinal cord injury survivor and motivational speaker.

Erway had his first life-changing accident in 1980, with a second major accident in 2006. His story is unique, but his insights are relevant to anyone, regardless of abilities or disabilities.

He is the author of “50 Abilities, Unlimited Possibilities: Wheeling through the 50 States, from Jackson to the Boston Marathon Bombing.” In the book, Erway chronicles his team on their goal to complete 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks through the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation.

The noon event will be held at BRRH, in the 2nd floor dining room. Seating is limited, so to RSVP please call (225) 231-3123 or email

BRRH will host multiple events as part of National Rehab Week, including the Roll On! Bowl On! Bowling Tournament on Sept. 17 to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries and an Amputee Support Group meeting on Sept. 20. Find more details here.

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