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West Nile recovery a long, slow and painful process for Oklahoma City man

Bob Matthews, 77, of Oklahoma City, has been working to recover from West Nile virus for about seven months. Matthews, a retired Heritage Hall principal, is partially paralyzed because of the virus.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: December 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012
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Throughout his recovery, his wife of 46 years, B.J. Matthews, has been at his side.

There were points in the beginning where B.J. Matthews wasn't sure her husband was going to make it. During his second week in the hospital, Bob Matthews couldn't move or open his eyes.

But he pulled through and has continued to work at getting better. He can move the fingers on his right hand, which he couldn't do a few months ago, and he can stand with help from his physical therapist.

His original goal was to be walking by Christmas, but recovery with West Nile virus is not predictable or consistent. Relatively little is known about the long-term prognosis for patients with clinical West Nile virus infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We try every day to put more weight on both legs,” Bob Matthews said. “It's just a matter of time when the legs decide they're going to take what we put on them.”

On Tuesday, the Matthews will spend Christmas with their daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons at the rehabilitation hospital that serves as Bob Matthews' temporary home.

The Matthews don't ask for help but simply for prayers.

The couple's love for each other and their belief that Bob Matthews will get better continues, despite several hard months spent in various hospitals.

“Our faith is still there,” B.J. Matthews said.

“Definitely,” Bob Matthews added.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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