Recovery effort not easy for Keller man with West Nile

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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With the West Nile season coming to a close, many people may let their guard down and not be proactive in taking prevention precautions.

For Keller resident David Ware, the effect of the season is far from over. He became a statistic in August as Keller’s only human case of the West Nile virus.

Ware, 65, said he wants the public to remain vigilant in the fight against mosquito population and hopes his story will prevent someone else from getting this monstrous disease. And even though it’s late in the mosquito season, he said people still need to take precautions.

Just last week,Tarrant County Public Health Department confirmed Keller’s first positive mosquito case of West Nile Virus.

This year county officials reported five cases of West Nile Virus including two deaths associated with virus – an Arlington man in his late 70s with underlying medical conditions and a south Fort Worth man in his 30s, also with underlying medical conditions.

The other three cases include two women in Fort Worth, one in her 80s, the other in her 40s both with West Nile Virus fever and Ware’s case, reported as a Keller man in his 60s with West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease.

One devastating bite

Ware’s nightmare began the last week in July when he went outside at dawn for routine maintenance on the family vehicles to check on things such as oil and water levels.

He said he was wearing shorts, sandals and a short-sleeved shirt and was not wearing mosquito repellant.

“I wasn’t outside very long. I got three to five bites,” he said. “If I would have had on pants, I probably wouldn’t have gotten bit.”

Ware said the first week of August, he started feeling flu-like symptoms that eventually got so bad he was “hanging on the the walls” in order to walk.

The next three days would entail daily visits to neighborhood clinics and a hospital, only to be sent back home with a flu diagnosis.

On the fourth day, family members took him to a different hospital where he was admitted for testing and the diagnosis was revealed.

“For the next two and a half weeks, I have no memories,” he said.

Ware said having little memory of those first few weeks is something he considers a God thing after hearing stories from family about how serious it had become.

“I later learned that everyone who saw me knew I could die,” Ware said. “They knew I might not make it.”

Ware’s wife, Jeannie Ware, said when she first heard the diagnosis she was stunned.

“When I heard it from a nurse, I said, ‘Really? Seriously?’” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we are a statistic, one of those, like on the news.’”

Dealing with the after effects

After waking from a near-coma state, Ware had to learn how to sit up again. He couldn’t walk or use his voice, he felt feverish and his body ached so bad he said a spilled drop of water on his chest felt like acid.

Following three weeks in the hospital, Ware was transferred to Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton.

During this time, Ware’s daughter, Lauren, got married. He couldn’t be there in person but family members streamed the ceremony live via the internet so he could watch, or at least try and watch, in between falling asleep from the effects of the morphine.

“Even in my stooper, I felt guilty for not being able to give her away,” he said.

Two weeks later, Ware’s daughter and son-in-law came to the rehabilitation facility dressed in their wedding attire.

“We had a re-creation of the service,” he said. “I gave her away.”

Ware said during his time at the rehabilitation facility, he started “remembering again.”

“That was one if the best physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual times of my life,” he said. “Everything about it was tremendous.”

Seven weeks after being bitten, Ware returned home and started physical and occupational therapy.

He still cannot drive or work, has a hard time walking, is weak, has no energy and continues to suffer from many symptoms including tremors, hallucinations and short term memory loss.

Once easy tasks such as opening a water bottle or putting something in the microwave are now extremely difficult.

“My hands tremble,” he said. “And it’s hard to reach above my head to pull a light chain. I can’t fasten a seat-belt and shaving takes two hands because I shake so much ... It’s the little stuff you take for granted.”

Jeannie Ware said the support of friends and family, coupled with a lot of praying, is what is getting them through this.

“It’s a new way of life,” she said. “Something you learn to get through each day.”

Jeannie Ware now works three part-time jobs to keep things afloat because her husband can not work.

“It doesn’t end with having the virus for a few weeks,” she said.

The positive side

David Ware said the one good thing that has come out of the experience is he now has time on his hands to complete a very special project.

Ware started writing several years ago, taking Bible characters out of the New Testament and making fictitious stories that involved encounters with Jesus. He also started writing Bible based books that helps people manage relationships.

The last couple of years, he said thoughts in his mind were “What will God have to do to get you to sit down and get all of this done?”

“I’m supposed to be working on this,” he said.

Ware can’t type yet, but new technology allows him to talk into a devise that types words on a page.

Jeannie Ware said lessons learned, besides taking the basics of West Nile prevention more seriously, is to be prepared for the unexpected, get things in order financially and never take life for-granted.

“This has been an interesting journey,” she said. “We had no idea a mosquito could do all of this.”

Susan McFarland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1

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