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Six Lakes man recovering from West Nile virus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Bob Tonning of Six Lakes doesn't know where he contracted the West Nile virus, but he knows one thing for sure: He'll always wear insect repellent while outside from now on.

"Like I said, I never dreamed that this would happen to me," Tonning said. "You know, and after I've seen the before pictures and after pictures of me, I thank God I'm alive."

Bob first started feeling noticeable symptoms on the night of Aug. 8. He got up to use the bathroom, but fell back in bed... unable to use his legs. That's when his wife Colleen Tonning and her daughter rushed him to the emergency room.

After five days of testing, doctors confirmed that Bob had the West Nile Virus.

"This just rocked me," he said. "I couldn't believe it when they told me this is what I had and the recovery would be what it is."

His recovery has consisted of over two weeks of rehab at Blodgett Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Grand Rapids, beginning on Aug. 18.

"So when he started rehab, his processing was very delayed," said Dr. Patrick Mullan, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. "So when you would speak to him, it would take him almost a minute to process that information and for him to get a response back to you. And it affected his muscles and strength so much that he was really confined to bed in the early stages of this."

Since then, Dr. Mullan says Tonning has made a remarkable recovery. He says it normally takes six to eight months for a patient to recover from a severe case of West Nile like this one.

After a little over two weeks, he's already scheduled to go home tomorrow.

"He's a miracle," said Colleen Tonning. "There's no doubt about it. It's a miracle."

While at home, Bob will still get visits from a physical therapist twice a week for up to a month. But he is expected to regain full independence.

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