The Medivac helicopter made a noisy descent to the landing pad at University Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The patient on board was on the final leg of a long journey home from South Africa. Jeremy Clark, an ambitious 23-year-old college graduate, had been on a Mormon mission in Johannesburg when he awoke one day unable to move his legs. He was briefly hospitalized there, but the South African doctors could not explain his sudden paralysis and found no evidence of injury or infection, so he was transferred back to the States by air ambulance.
Medics wheeled Jeremy to the neurology ward, where I was waiting. They said he had been about three weeks into his two-year commitment in South Africa when one morning he did not show up for his assignment, nor did he answer his ?phone. Someone finally went to his apartment and found him lying there, immobilized.
“He’s been like this for a week, doctor,” the medic told me. “He hasn’t spoken since this happened.”
The youthful-looking, blond-haired patient stared at the ceiling, his blue eyes unblinking. “Good morning, Jeremy,” I said. I felt invisible in the silence. “Are you in pain?”
“You’re home now,” I said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this…”