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"It was terrifying:" West Allis mother learning how to walk and talk as she battles West Nile Virus

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A West Allis mother is relearning how to walk and talk as she battles West Nile virus.

Sue Pappalardo was still grieving her husband Joe, who died of a heart attack earlier this year, when seemingly out of nowhere she stopped being able to move her neck and would get confused and disoriented.

She was later diagnosed with West Nile meningoencephalitis.

“[She] couldn’t get words out, kind of stuttering,” said Lisa Pappalardo, Sue’s daughter. “It was terrifying.”

Lisa has been helping take care of her mother for weeks now.

“She’s all there mentally but with her motor skills, she has to learn everything again,” Lisa said. “Walking, brushing her teeth. Everything that so many people take for granted.”

The care and support has been a team effort from the entire family, including Sue’s older sister, Shirley Burleson.

“It’s been hard because just losing her husband, and she was just getting her feet on the ground from that and then this had to happen and knock her down.”

The family says Sue is in the one percent of people with West Nile who show severe symptoms. Most people never even know they have it.

“She was perfectly fine, very active,” Burleson said. “She’s an active gardener, has a full-time job plus she works part-time.”

Sue’s life will now revolve around intensive therapy likely for several months.

Without a cure for West Nile, doctors can’t say for sure that she’ll ever get back to 100 percent.

“It’s the woman I’ve looked up to my entire life, and now she’s sick,” Lisa said. “She’s fighting and she’s probably stronger than all of us honestly.”

If you’d like to help ease the Pappalardos’ financial burden, here’s a link to their Gofundme.

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