State-of-the-art treatments helps a man paralyzed by shingles

The shingles are known to cause a painful rash with blisters. While it often wraps around someone's side or back, a local man puzzled doctors when he got it on the inside of his body. When it paralyzed his face, 39-year-old Robert Carlisle desperately sought help from his eye doctor, Dr. Julio Arroyo with Eye Health Consultants in The Woodlands. Robert was a busy dad of five, going to law school, when he got terribly sick with the shingles. He luckily found a unique treatment to help him recover. 

It all started back in August, and he's still fighting the aggravating symptoms. First of all, Robert is younger than most people (typical age is after mid-50's) who get the painful rash and then his case was misdiagnosed for weeks as a sore throat and earache. Even Robert's dad can understand the misdiagnosis.

"I have never heard of anybody getting shingles inside. I've always known people have them somewhere on the outside of their body," explains Robert's dad, Bob.  Studies show only 2 percent of shingles patients will suffer symptoms like this. 

When Robert's shingles finally came out of his ear, spread up his face and forehead, doctors figured it out, but shingles heals best with immediate anti-viral medications, which he didn't receive in time.

"It damaged the cranial nerve in his face, which caused it to droop down like he had a stroke," says Bob.

In fact, Robert can only whisper at this point and relies on his dad to help communicate.  When Robert was told it could take years to heal through conventional medicine, he came to Dr. Julio Arroyo seeking alternative care.  Dr. Arroyo could tell that Robert's cranial nerves were in danger.

"He was in a lot of pain, so we figured the trigemenial nerve was involved and he also was paralyzed on one side. That tells us the facial nerve was involved. So when he came in, he could barely move or close his eye at all.  The right eye was fine, the left eye couldn't move at all, so it was constantly open and we had to patch it to keep the cornea from getting sick," says Dr. Arroyo. 

Dr. Arroyo knew he had to get creative to help Robert, and is using two devices with infrared light. They're strategically placed on his face for his particular condition, including through his nose.

"That's one area that has the most vascularity, so we can reach the blood circulation non-invasively by going through the nose, and the other one enhances circulation. We're helping him get the oxygen into the hemoglobin of the red blood cells more effectively, more efficiently, so this simply provides the elements that help his own body heal faster," says Dr. Arroyo. 

He goes on to say that patients who suffer from Bell's Palsy and strokes have similar symptoms with facial paralysis, so he says this treatment could help them, as well. 

Robert's dad has been by his side through the entire ordeal and has high hopes for his son.  "What I'm seeing happening is he will gain full control over his face, he'll be able to smile again, be able to close his lips. We want him to swallow because right now he can't swallow, so we feed him with a stomach peg for feeding right now," says Bob.  That was in November.  

Robert joined us live on Houston's Morning Show to give us his update. He can smile and close his lips now and can talk at normal volume, so he has completed those goals.  He has lost more than 40 pounds because he still can't eat and has to rely on a feeding tube.  He does hope to go back to law school in August.

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