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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South student’s self-treatment overcomes paralysis

South student Judy Garza was paralyzed on the side of her face in 1999 from a viral infection. She overcame it after doctors and nurses gave up on her.  Photo by Montreal Spencer/The Collegian
South student Judy Garza was paralyzed on the side of her face in 1999 from a viral infection. She overcame it after doctors and nurses gave up on her. Photo by Montreal Spencer/The Collegian

By Montreal Spencer/south news editor

South student Judy Garza was paralyzed on the side of her face in 1999 from a viral infection. She overcame it after doctors and nurses gave up on her.  Photo by Montreal Spencer/The Collegian
South student Judy Garza was paralyzed on the side of her face in 1999 from a viral infection. She overcame it after doctors and nurses gave up on her. Photo by Montreal Spencer/The Collegian

In 1999, South Campus student Judy Garza was paralyzed on one side of her face for about two months from a viral infection known as shingles.

Garza had been working as a legal assistant for several years and under stress because she said she wasn’t living out her dreams. One day out of the blue, she had the viral infection.

“It took them a long time to figure out what I had,” Garza said. “The only cause they thought would explain why I got it was stress.”

Doctors wrote her several prescriptions for pain medicine, but it would not stop the aching on her face. She couldn’t sleep from the pain.

“I went six weeks sleeping a hour or two. Then I’d wake up, sleep another hour or two. Then I’d wake up from the pain,” she said.

Shingles is a disease caused by the same virus that causes the chicken pox. In the U.S., nine out of 10 adults have had chicken pox.

Garza said she was about to lose her eye from the infection, and she could not close her right eye normally.

“I would have to close my eyelid with my fingers because it couldn’t move on its own,” she said.

The nurses told her what she had was so rare because it was on her face they did not know how to treat her.

“Because it (the infection) was in my head and ear, I would be extremely dizzy,” she said. “I was being driven everywhere, and concentration on the job was very hard. My focus and skills were very limited.”

One night the pain was so excruciating, Garza poured all the pain pills she had in her hands and thought about overdosing.

“I sat there and looked at my significant other and thought about my family and realized that I couldn’t do that to them,” she said.

Many things Garza could do in the past had become a hassle.

“It was very hard to eat although because of the pain, I did not have much of an appetite,” she said. “It was hard to drink liquids because they kept running out the side of my mouth, and brushing my teeth was difficult for the same reason.”

Doctors told her they knew people that had similar infections, and it caused them to have pain for several years.

“My right ear looked like a red tomato on the side of my face, and the inside of my throat was very irritated,” she said.

After two weeks with the infection, she began to treat herself with vitamins and supplements she got from an herbal store. She read somewhere the morning sun was therapeutic, so every morning she would go sit outside. She also began to pray everyday.

She got better after having the infection for two months and after nurses gave up on her.

“The doctor was amazed I healed as quickly as I did as were the nurses,” she said. “The nurse told me I should have been in the hospital.”

Garza said the situation made her a better person and more spiritual.

“If this would not have happened in my life, I wouldn’t be in school right now. I wouldn’t be as balanced or the student I am today,” she said.

Garza is currently majoring in nutrition and working on three novels.

“I want to be able to sit down with people and help them develop good nutrition habits,” she said.

South Campus associate psychology professor Trish Light believes Garza’s story is inspirational.

“Judy overcame great medical odds to live her life on her choices. She did not give up in the face of adversity,” Light said. “This is a powerful lesson for everyone.” 

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