of the month
By Rich Petersen
Mario Alberto Valencia Guzmán
Shown here with his mother and older brother is 13-year old Mario Alberto Valencia Guzmán. Mario Alberto lives with his family, including another brother and his father, in Ajijic. You may have seen his father Pedro at Jara Hardware store where he works, and his mother Enriqueta at Diane Pearl Colecciones where she helps with cleaning and other maintenance. Brother Pedro Damián (in the photo) is a cook at Los Telares restaurant—quite a busy and hardworking family, no?
Back in February of this year Mario Alberto returned from school complaining of soreness in both legs and feet; the next day he was unable to walk very well, and the following day he was unable to walk at all.
These dramatic and sudden symptoms are caused by ‘transverse myelitis,” an inflammation across both sides of one level of the spinal cord. The inflammation affects the “myelin,” the fatty insulating substance that covers nerve cell fibers. This is one of the most enigmatic diseases in that there is no cure at the present time. The patient’s condition usually comes on following a viral infection or an abnormal immune reaction. Family history plays no part, and the patient is soon confined to a wheelchair.
Mario Alberto’s family is fortunate to have IMSS medical insurance so they took him immediately to one of the hospitals in Guadalajara, but, as I mentioned, there is no cure for this affliction and they were told only that he must have extensive physical therapy to try to counteract the disease.
The family then went to a private physician who prescribed anti-inflammatory injections and other medications to reduce the inflammation, but soon these treatments became too expensive for the family budget and that is when the family came to Niños Incapacitados for some financial help.
So, for now Mario Alberto has daily therapy sessions at IMSS in Guadalajara (one of the ambulances comes every day to pick him up), plus he swims three times a week at the pool at the Hotel Montecarlo, and has twice weekly therapy sessions at the DIF facility in Chapala. Of course he continues taking anti-inflammatory medications.
He is getting better. As you can see in the photo Mario Alberto is learning how to handle a walker to exercise his legs and get them moving again. He had just---with some effort—managed to lift himself out of the wheelchair and walked a few steps using the walker. His is very happy with his progress so far, as I hope can be seen on his face in the picture. His family is super-supportive and we are all hopeful that with time and continued physical therapy, he will be walking without need of help. This may take months-to-years to achieve, however, and we hope he is one of the 35% of people with this affliction who experience good or full recovery.
To meet other of “our” children and to learn more about what Niños Incapacitados does, please join us the second Thursday of each month for our members’ meeting. 10:00 a.m. at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. A special and continued THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to our “Sustaining Niños” pledge program which allows us to continue helping sick children here at Lakeside, and a gentle reminder that it is time to renew those pledges for the upcoming year. Visit our website to learn how: www.programaninos.org