Fresno residents impacted by West Nile Virus discuss hardships in the recovery process

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A deadly, incurable disease is bringing this group of people together and making them stronger.

"Now we can all say that we are in a very unique club," Tim Thiessen said. "It's not the club that we would have ever signed up for."

They are either fighting or being effected by West Nile virus.

All there stories start with a mosquito bite in Fresno County followed by flu like symptoms.

Laura Hardwick contracted the disease on the 4th of July.

"It just kept getting worse and then I got to where I couldn't eat," Hardwick said. "I was just so sick."

The virus claimed her memory and mobility at one point.

She has improved but is far from being back to normal.

Tim Thiessen, who was diagnosed in 2014, understands the struggles all to well.

He endured 10 months of physical therapy to regain control of his body. At one point the lightest of items felt like hundreds of pounds.

"I could barley even do a bicep curl with a water bottle," Thiessen said.

Martha Ramirez has found comfort in their stories.

West Nile has left her 93-year-old father Leonel bedridden and depressed.

"It's hard to see pictures of him before and then looking at him," Ramirez said.

Knowing others understand what she's going through means everything.

"I just met them, but it is like a new little family there," Ramirez said.

Despite their lives being forever changed, Thiessen, Hardwick and Ramirez choose to look at the silver lining.

"I consider myself blessed, I'm very blessed," Hardwick said. "That is where I am."
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