Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Dano Banks – Overcoming Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Big Dog and Dano Banks

We’re just a few days into the New Year and this is a great time to look to having a bright and healthy future.

If you’ve been hampered by age related aches and pains or if you are just recovering from illness or surgery, 2010 may bring an entire new perspective filled with hope.

Being healthy is something many of us take for granted, until illness strikes.  Exercise, eating healthy, staying positive in actions and thoughts are all good steps in providing ourselves the best chance of a long and productive life.

One of my closest and best friends, Dano Banks, has spent nearly all of his adult life living healthy.

Banks has taken on great physical obstacles such as running a marathon, 26.2-miles, and even running an ultra marathon from Waimea to Hilo, 62-miles in one day.

Part of Banks motivation to take good care of himself was the loss of both his parents at relatively young ages.

“My dad died at 51 as his kidneys failed over a few months,” Banks said.  “It is a tortuous way to die.  He was a smoker, Camels, down to the nub.”

Banks mother died at age 62 with Alzheimer’s and other complications.  “I guess with my dad dying first when I was 19, I’ve had this eerie thought that I too would not live to a ripe old age.  I’ve thought for many years that it would be great to make it to 60,” he said.

This fear of dying at an early age prompted Banks to take extra special care of himself.  Besides regular physical exercise Banks also follows a healthy diet with no beef products, the use of soy milk, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

But as irony would have it, just six weeks before turning 60, Banks was struck with some very unusual, unexplained signs and symptoms.

“I was doing my usual morning routine this past June when I started to get some pain in the left leg.  By 9 a.m. I am getting pains and cramps which immediately escalate into excruciating pain with my writhing on the floor in between the bouts of cramped muscles,” he said.

Banks wife, Marti, came home from work to take her husband to the Emergency Room in Hilo where two doctors ruled out Cauda Equina, an impingement on the nerves.

Dano Banks

“They had no idea of my problem and gave me pain pills and stool softeners and sent me home,” Banks said.

The next morning the pain returns, this time in waves spread about 30 to 45 minutes apart accompanied by uncontrolled urination and bowel movement.  The pain became too overwhelming for Banks to even walk and it was back to the ER in Hilo.

A spinal tap was ordered which revealed elevated protein fluid, one of the only true markers for Guillain-Barre syndrome.  The diagnoses led to a medivac to Queens Hospital on Oahu and the long process of plasmapheresis (the removal of blood, spin it to remove the plasma which has the antibodies that have gone awry and destroying the nerve, and return with albumin to Banks body).

“Here I was in mid-June stuck with this syndrome/disorder in the hospital and I’m thinking that I’m just 1.5 months away from my 60th birthday and am I actually going to make it?,” Banks said.

The good news is that after two weeks in the hospital Banks was allowed to return home to begin the long process of rehabilitation to his now frail and improvised body.

In August he returned to his job with the Department of Education as a resource specialist at the Hilo Annex District Office.

Seven months after returning home Banks has made steady strides towards full recovery, which can take up to 18 months.

“I haven’t been able to return to running yet and I still walk with a gimped gate,” he said.  “My left leg and foot continue to have decreased feeling.  I have no tendon reflex in my left leg.”

In early November Banks tried running for the first time, 2-miles, from his home to the Post Office.  “I was limping along trying to go at full speed effort which meant I was going a little faster than I can walk.  I have no left leg power due to the tendon still being compromised,” Banks said.

Banks continues to stretch daily, walks as much as he can and continues to maintain a healthy diet.

With the New Year just eleven days old Banks is a happy person and is on the slow road to recovery.  “I have no idea how I contracted Guillan-Barre and it brings to mind an old Woody Allen line from the “Sleeper” movie,” he said.

“In the movie Allen is brought out of being frozen for a number of years and when told all of his friends have died he immediately says….”that’s impossible, they all ate brown rice.”

Keep eating your brown rice, and exercise on a daily basis as we should all be giving ourselves the greatest gift possible, that of having good health.

In 2010 Banks faces the challenge of regaining the life he once had and I’m placing my money on his full recovery.

Happy New Year!


January 11, 2010 - Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , ,


  1. What exactly is Guillan-Barre disease? Is it genetic? Can you catch it from someone else? Is this something Dano will have to live with forever or will he recover completely?

    I’m glad to know he’s on the road to recovery, Dano is good people!

    Comment by Jaclynn | January 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. Definitely need more information on Guillian-Barre. Is it a virus? Big Dog if you research and come up with additional information please put it on your blog. AR

    Comment by AR | January 15, 2010 | Reply

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