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His N.B.A. Dream Was Right There. Then He Couldn’t Move His Legs.

  • October 23, 2021

Within days, his fever had disappeared and his throat felt better, but he started to notice other disconcerting symptoms. His limbs would feel as if they were coated in glass. Sometimes, he wouldn’t be able to feel a hand touching his arm. Other times, he felt an almost unbearable tingle. At night, he couldn’t sleep with a blanket on his legs because it was too irritating. Then his back began to hurt. As an athlete, Wilkes was used to a certain amount of joint pain and muscle stiffness, but this was different.

One night, the pain got so bad that his father, Greg Wilkes, took him to urgent care. There the doctor asked Kris if he could remember the last time he had urinated. It had been more than a day. The doctor told him to rush to an emergency room because his bladder was at risk of ripping.

In the emergency room, Wilkes received morphine and a catheter, and he was released with the catheter still connected. “Here I was, days before getting drafted, and I was shuffling around my house with bad back pain and a catheter in,” he said in a series of phone calls from his home in Los Angeles last month. “It didn’t feel like I was 20. I felt like I was 80.”

Two days later was the draft. Kris awoke, couldn’t move his legs and called his father. Greg Wilkes has spent the past 25 years with the Indianapolis Police Department and is trained in emergency medical response. “I wasn’t a police officer or a first responder in that moment,” he said. “I was a father, and my heart and nerves were shot. I was thinking, ‘What is going on?’ My 20-year-old son is one of the most athletic people I’ve ever met in my life, and he can’t move. How could that be possible?”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/23/sports/basketball/kris-wilkes-ucla-nba.html

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