Thank you !!!

Wow! I can’t even begin to thank you all for the love I’ve gotten this past week. The last 6 days have been quite a whirlwind, as my 4 year old YouTube video went viral last weekend, hitting over 1.6 million views in a week; all because of a short article that did on me! They had emailed me a few weeks ago asking for permission to share my story on their page, and I said of course, not really thinking much about it, and having no idea how much attention that article would get! I have seen that article so many times on different media outlets and all over my newsfeed, and as a result I have been glued to my IPhone the past few days…The unbelievable amount of messages and emails I have received has been absolutely overwhelming!

I have shared my story so many times now, that to be honest I have become a little numb to it. Don’t get me wrong, what I went through was very devastating to me, it’s just that I can talk about it with very little pain now. That experience is such big part of my life that it almost feels normal to me. It was so long ago that it’s almost as if it never happened, especially since it has not affected my ability to do day to day things. (Except to wear high heels, which still makes me sad!) I talk about my journey with GBS like it’s no big deal, but really, it is. I forget that what I went though is rare and that many people will never experience something like that in their whole lives.

I watched my video again this week, the first time in a very, very long time and I have to say I am feeling pretty proud of myself. The video is a great reminder of everything that I went through and more importantly, everything that I have accomplished. I can tell by the look on my face just how depressed I was those first three months, and it reminds me of how badly I wanted to give up – but I didn’t, and I couldn’t help but smile when I was doing those INSANITY workouts at the end. I have come such a long way from that fragile and defeated person I was in ICU and I am so much stronger, both physically and mentally, than the person I was back then, and I am grateful to be where I am now.

A lot has changed since I first posted that video, the most obvious being that I am now separated from my ex-husband and in a new relationship, so of course the parts with James in it are a little hard for me to watch. And I know from the messages and comments that I receive, that there are many people out there who are surprised and disappointed, that after all of that, we are not together anymore. I get it; we were together for 10 ½ years, and even though it’s been over two years since we separated, it’s sometimes even hard for me to grasp. But in the end, everything turned out the way it was supposed to, and we are much happier apart. While what we went through should have made us stronger, it instead just helped to expose and magnify all of the different problems in our relationship. Our relationship had changed, and as time went on, it was clear that we wanted different things and that our problems could never be fixed. I will always care about him, I have just learned now that you don’t have to be with someone in order to keeping loving them; you can still love them from afar – and sometimes that’s what’s best. We have both moved on and things are good. We may not be together anymore, but that doesn’t change what we went through, and I will forever be thankful to James for helping me through one of the hardest times in my life. And just because we aren’t together, doesn’t make my story any less of a happy ending, as I am just living a different version now. Life rarely goes according to plan and always has its ups and downs; and when bad things happen, I have the choice to either let it define me, let it destroy me, or I can let it guide me into being a better person – which is exactly what I have done.

Casey will always be the shining star of my video and the majority of the questions I get are about her. She is doing great; she is now almost 5 years old, and just started Kindergarten this year. She is turning into such a beautiful little girl and what I went through has really made me appreciate her in a way I don’t think I would have had we not gone through what we did together. She is aware of what we as a family went through- she has watched my video many times, and knows that mommy was very sick in the hospital shortly after she was born. She knows that she spent a lot of time on a boppy pillow on my bed, and on a pillow on the tray of my wheelchair, and knows that mommy had to learn how to walk again. And I hope that as she gets older, she starts to understand all that I accomplished, and that it teaches her that with strength and determination, she as well can conquer things that she may think she can’t.  Casey is the love of my life and bring so much joy and happiness to those around her, and has won the hearts of so many people around the world.

I have been in my relationship with Jordan for over a year now and this relationship has been one of the best things to happen to me. My experience with GBS changed me drastically, and forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life, and over the years I have been making changes in order to be the best version of myself. I have worked extremely hard to give myself the life that I want, and have found that since I met Jordan, it has been ten times easier for me to do that. He is the most confident person I have ever met, and he has taught me so much about doing what makes me happy, and not worrying what other people think; which is often hard for me to do. He has taught me that happiness is the most important thing in life, and he is one of the happiest and most caring people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Jordan has two kids, and is such an involved father, and has taught me so much about how to be the best parent that I can be. Although he has never been through a near death experience, his attitude towards life seems like he has – he is constantly trying to live his life to the fullest and has this amazing ability to let the small things go, because he knows it really doesn’t matter. And he inspires me to do the same. We recently blended our families and moved in together, and although it took a few weeks to adjust, the kids have amalgamated very well and really love their time together. And since I have made the decision that I will not have more children due to the risk of having GBS again, I am grateful that Jordan and his kids have given Casey the ability to grow up with other children in her life. Between my life and his life, we are busier than I ever thought possible, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the end of the day, I know that we lived it to the fullest and we are giving our kids the best life that we can.

 One thing that Jordan has helped me continue on with, is my fitness. He loves to work out as much as I do, so on the weeks we don’t have our kids, we are usually at the gym every day. It’s become something really fun that we get to do together. He pushes me harder than I can ever push myself, which is always a bonus! Last year for my GBS anniversary, we went indoor rock climbing and I could not believe how well I did. I couldn’t have done it without him pushing me and cheering me on, and he has proved to be one of my biggest supporters and motivators. I have more muscle than I’ve had in my life, but that’s not the only reason why I work out; I have found that it has given me so much more energy and makes me so much happier. Working out has got to be one of the best forms of stress relief, and I don’t think I have ever walked out of the gym in a bad mood. Of course I still have my days when I struggle to find the motivation to work out, but I have found that thinking about all the people that I have met with GBS in wheelchairs; that wish they could exercise the way that I can, is always a good push for me to go. I know I am fortunate to be able to do what I can do.

I continue doing whatever I can to create awareness for GBS – I have been to two GBS conferences this past year; one in Toronto and one in Calgary, and it’s always amazing to meet others who have overcome this devastating disease. Just knowing that I am not the only one to go through what I did has helped me drastically over the years. And then meeting people who have told me that I am the reason they got through their experience with GBS, is a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. A few weeks ago I shared my story at a Women’s Conference, and this evening I will be sharing it with some Beachbody Coaches, the program that created INSANITY. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given so much exposure lately, and to have the capacity to share and inspire others around the world in all the ways that I have. Thank you everyone so much for all the love and support.

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Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. 

Our health is one of those things that we all take for granted. You would think after everything I’ve been through, I would remember that. The last few weeks have been extremely stressful for me, as I watched a few tiny white marks on my shoulders quickly spread into several large white spots down my back and arms. Having no idea what was happening to me and after googling some of the different things it could be, I quickly assumed the worst. The different diseases I found online did not look very good. I tried not to worry until I spoke to my doctor, but flashbacks of me sitting in emerge being diagnosed with my last serious disease, made it really hard for me to stay positive. I had been completely confident that I would be fine back when I was diagnosed with GBS in 2011, and remember thinking I would be home in a day or two…and then I didn’t come home for 5 months. So this time around, I have been much more pessimistic that it was nothing.

Of course the one time I can’t get an appointment with my doctor for a week, had to be now. I couldn’t live with that fear for a whole week, so I decided to stop at a medi-centre on my way home from work. Memories of me being in that exact same medi-centre 4 ½ year ago came flowing back, and my fears and worries only worsened as I sat there waiting. My symptoms weren’t viewed as serious at all, so one after another, people got in before I did. As I sat crying to myself for almost 2 hours in the waiting room, I remembered how the last time I was there, the medi-centre doctor had told me I had a pinched nerve and sent me home. Less than 3 days later I was in ICU breathing on a ventilator fighting for my life. I suddenly decided I didn’t want their opinion anyways, and left. These were medi-centre doctors, used to treating cold and flus and minor emergencies, not skin conditions. Whatever they were going to tell me was wrong with me, wasn’t going to ease my worries if I couldn’t trust them.

So I chose to wait as patiently as possible for a week to see my doctor. I tried to prepare myself for the worst possible scenario and tried to imagine what my life would be like if it were some serious disease again. I cried a lot, especially when I found a new spot on my stomach.

Thankfully, my doctor thinks he knows what I have and it’s nothing serious; however, he believes I have a skin disease called Tinea Versicolor. It is a fungal infection that interferes with the pigment in your skin, resulting in discolored spots and patches. Because I am so dark skinned, these spots are extremely obvious on me. It is a disease commonly found in tropical areas of the world with high humidity, and given that I noticed the first white patch shortly after my trip to the Caribbean earlier this year, my doctor thinks that I likely developed it there. I have been given a medication to help control it and it should calm down in the next few weeks, but the pigment in my skin probably won’t return for several months. And unfortunately it is a disease, so it’s something I will likely deal with again and again, especially in summer months when it’s humid outside. And the spots will likely continue to return.

It’s hard to predict if it will progress any further right now or if I will be able to control it before it spreads. And it’s hard to predict what sort of things might aggravate it down the road. But reading about all the different lifestyle changes some people have had to make, like having to switch beauty products, avoiding exercise, changing their diets, staying out of the sun, etc., has been a little discouraging.

My first reaction was relief, that it wasn’t something serious. I’m not going to die, I won’t get sick, and it’s not painful or contagious. Things could be so much worse. But then my feelings of relief changed to anger. No, I’m not going to suffer physically at all, but it’s really fucking ugly and is already having a huge effect on my self-confidence. I would really like to be able to wear a dress or a tank top again one day without feeling like a fucking Dalmatian! And I don’t want to have to change my diet, stop going to the gym, and stay out of the sun !! And for this to be happening to ME?? Haven’t I gone through enough hell? Why should I have to deal with yet another disease in my lifetime!! Its total bullshit!! Every time I look down at my body I just want to cry. I have enough scars as it is, I don’t need anything else for people to look at. And even though I completely believe that beauty is skin deep, and that what really matters is who you are on the inside, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to still look normal.

However I do know that things always get better and I will come to terms with all of this. It’s really not the end of world and there are so much worse things I could be complaining about. I recently came back from a GBS Conference where I was surrounded by strong people that have been through so much, and it really reminded me that it’s not the situation that controls us, it’s how we choose to react to it. I will hopefully get this under control and if not, well, I will figure out how to live with it, just like I did with all the other imperfections on my body. Knowing what I have overcome in the past has given me the ability to handle anything life throws at me, and I know that I need to just breathe, and take things one day at a time. I am one of the strongest people that I know, and this is nothing compared to what I’ve been through. I totally got this :)

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Life is short…

There seems to be a lot of sorrow going on in my inner and outer circle of friends right now. In the last few months, I have seen (either in person or over Facebook) so many people dealing with some sort of major suffering in their lives; from diagnoses of diseases, to car accidents, to heart attacks, etc., which have often resulted in losing someone they love. The last week or so has been the worst, and a lot of devastating things have happened to people that I care about.

Hearing about all these tragic circumstances have really reminded me just how precious life really is. People say this time and time again, but it is really is so important to live your life to the fullest. Life is so unpredictable and things can change at any moment. It is so important to go after your goals, to be the person you want to be, to do the things you want to do. It is so important to live the life you have dreamed about, and if you don’t like something, change it! Love with all of your heart, mend broken friendships, and be a better person, friend, partner, parent, etc.

Thinking about all the different things I am seeing people struggling with right now has really brought me back to my experience with GBS. It’s been 4 years now since that time in my life and I almost can’t believe it even happened; it seems so long ago. But it did happen and I can’t believe how much it did change me. Reading through my past blog posts really shows me just how much I got out of my experience with GBS and I really hope that when others read through them, especially those going through a hard time, they get something out of it as well. 

Here are a few passages from past blog posts that I wanted to repost; some things that I have written in the past that really ring true to me, and might for those people experiencing pain as well:

“I think it is very important (for everyone) to take a look at the situations we are put into; at the struggles that we are faced with, and keep moving forward. Yes, of course there are going to be hard days, but what will get you through those days, is trusting that you will make it through them, and trusting that everything happens for a reason.


I constantly get asked how I am coping and how I manage to stay so positive through all of this, and the key to my happiness, is accepting where I am in my life, and making the best of it every day. And that doesn’t just apply to my situation, it applies to any situation. Life isn’t always perfect, but as I have learned from GBS, it is most definitely worth it.

I realize, and I hope others realize that even when things are going so terrible you almost can’t breathe; it won’t always be like this. Things will get better. And not only will you get through it, you will be stronger because of it. You just have to take each day, one obstacle at a time. 

Because of my experience with GBS – knowing everything that I made it through in the past- I have been able to maintain a very positive outlook in the challenges I am faced with, which really helps me to live my life to the fullest.

And you don’t have to do what I did – wait until you get some terrible disease to start living like this. Now is the time to be that amazing person you have always wanted to be. Now is the time to be happy. I had my entire life taken away from me for months, and then…I was given it all back. You can’t imagine what that feels like – to think your life is over, and then one day you realize that it isn’t. That is a feeling I wish you could all experience, because it gives you a sense of appreciation like no other. And one day I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.”







Posted in 2015 | 4 Comments

A Year of Change…

I can’t believe that I will be THIRTY in less than a month. Not that I am worried about getting older, age has never been a big concern for me- I actually like being 30 better than I liked being 20!!! But life is sure flying by! It feels like just yesterday I was pregnant with my daughter and in a few months she will be turning FOUR! Where does the time go?! She is getting taller and taller everyday and is growing into such a smart and caring little girl. She went through a short period of terrible two’s (at three) but it only lasted a little while and lately she has been listening better than ever! :) From her memory of being in my belly when I was pregnant (she says it was so dark in there) to her reason why she loves me, (because my skin is warm) she brings so much laughter into my life with the things she comes up with. She has such a strong love and appreciation for the world; when she sees a baby in a stroller, a puppy walking down the street, a cow in a pasture, or a beautiful sunset or rainbow, she screams with delight. And she inspires me to see the beauty in everyday things, as I know I catch myself being amazed by the simpler things in life all the time now. Her imagination and curiosity is just wild these days and I can always count on her to make me smile. She is an extremely happy, laid back little girl and I am so thankful to have her in my life. :)
Photo Credit: RockWood Photography

As for GBS Stuff going on, I got a really neat phone call the other day, from someone that worked for a Production Company in Hollywood! He was interested in speaking with me about my experience with GBS for a Documentary series!! He told me a little about the show and I told him a lot about my story, but as it turns out, my story wouldn’t be a fit for their show. They were looking for people who had an extremely difficult time finding a diagnosis (I was diagnosed within 24 hours of my first symptom), but I was still extremely honored that they were interested in speaking with me about what I went through.

A few weeks ago my mom and I hosted our quarterly meeting in Edmonton, and we were so grateful to reach 4 new people to join (2 with GBS/CIDP and their spouses). If you are in Alberta and looking for some support for GBS/CIDIP please contact me!! Our meetings are very informal but I think they really provide our members with hope and support. Even though everyone‘s experiences are different, I have seen firsthand how powerful it is for our members to meet someone else that has even the smallest understanding of what they have been through. We share a connection with each other like no other and I am so proud to be a part of these meetings!

It has now been a year since I left the life that I had built for over ten years, and started over on a new path for me and my daughter. Of course my experience with Guillain-Barre Syndrome played a part in my decision to drastically change my life, but ultimately that decision was for my child. I knew that something needed to change in my life in order for me to become the parent that I felt she deserved – even if I wasn’t quite sure how to do that at the time. I had no idea what I was doing, or if I was making the right decision, but I am very proud of myself for taking the courageous step towards some sort of change in myself, not having any idea how things would work out.

It’s been a crazy, intense year of drastic change, with a lot of learning and a lot of growing. The last year has had its ups and downs and it has not been easy, but it has made me stronger and wiser. And looking back, I am so proud that I finally had the courage to make a change for what I wanted in mine and my daughter’s lives. I have learned so much over the last year; I have learned that not all love is meant to last, and that just because you love someone, it does not mean you will be or should be together forever. I have learned that depending on someone else to make you happy will never work; that happiness comes from within and you are the only one that can control that. I have learned that you have to do what is best for yourself instead of doing what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks you should do. I have finally learned who I am, how to be me, what I wanted in life and how to give myself that life. And I have learned all that, by following my heart. Day by day, I am becoming a happier, healthier and better person, and in doing that, I am giving Casey a life that she deserves.

I will always have a great deal of love for my ex and I will forever treasure the ten years we spent together. And although it sometimes makes me sad that things didn’t go the way I thought they would, I know it’s the way it is supposed to be. We go through these experiences in our lives to become the people that we are today. And life is good. Casey and I have slowly but surely rebuilt our lives on our own and she has adjusted extremely well to all the changes in the last year. She is able to spend half her time with me and half her time with her daddy and she is loved and supported by so many different people in her life. And I know these are the main reasons why she has handled this as well as she has. Well that and how easy going and laid back she is, of course ;)

My life didn’t go as planned, and I didn’t end up where I thought I would, but I know that everything happens for a reason, and that I will always end up where I am meant to be. And the moment that I made peace with my past, my present and my future – the exact moment I decided that I would be happy and just fine spending the rest of my life, just me and Casey – he came into my life. An amazing man with two incredible kids, and a loving family who all treat Casey and I like gold. A man with an incredible heart, who brings out the very best in me and makes me strive to be that better person every day. He has taught me so much about life; about family and parenting, about dedication and hard work and about confidence and happiness. Every single day he shows me the definition of love and inspires me to live my life for me.

It’s been a year of change, and who knows what the future looks like, but I am living in the moment, and enjoying life to the absolute fullest. I couldn’t be happier with the person that I am today and the little person that Casey is growing into! We are surrounded by the most loving and supportive people, who have helped us so much throughout this past year. Casey and I are so loved, and we are happy and healthy. Like I always say, life continues to go on and despite the challenges we all face along the way, we always get through them. And in a little over a month, Casey and I will move into our new condo and start this next chapter of our lives.IMG_8462.PNG

Posted in 2014 | 6 Comments

What lies within us…

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote. As I mentioned in my last post back in November, things were a little crazy in my personal life. And the last few months have continued to be a bit of a roller coaster ride, so I haven’t had the focus or the time needed to write. However, things have finally settled down and things are looking up, so I am back!

I was recently invited by a doctor to speak at the University of Alberta, where I shared my experience with GBS, with over two hundred 2nd year medical students. Being able to talk to future doctors was an amazing opportunity for me, and I knew that by sharing my story, I would be educating them what Guillain-Barre is, from a PATIENT’s perspective.

Talking to them about GBS felt a little strange at first, considering it’s usually the medical field that does the talking when it comes to rare medical conditions… however it was a very important message for me to deliver since I had my fair share of challenges with doctors and nurses along the way. And not because they were difficult or challenging, (because most were actually amazing and accommodating) just at times, some of them didn’t quite know how to deal with GBS because they had never dealt with it before.

My goal in speaking with these medical students – if they ever have a patient with Guillain-Barre – was to teach them to truly get to know these patients and their cases individually. GBS is so different from case to case, and what someone’s experiences, struggles and even recovery looks like, can be completely different from the next person’s. It is important that these doctors realise that they can’t just go by the “textbook case” every time. There is no “textbook” case of GBS and everyone’s experience is different. In a “textbook case”, I should have hit my plateau (absolute worst) a lot sooner than I did. In a “textbook case”, I shouldn’t have had issues with my eyes, or severe nausea, but I did. In a “textbook case”, I should not have been walking for at least 2 years, but I walked in less than 5 months. Sometimes, what the books, or even what the tests tell them about GBS, are not the way that things will go.

I’ve met some GBS patients that were paralyzed but had zero pain, where I was dealing with pain that was often unmanageable. I’ve met patients that their muscle function came back in their feet and legs first, and then in their hands and arms – where with me it was the other way around. I’ve met patients that spent as little as a few days in ICU, and others that spent over 6 months. I’ve met patients that were told that they would be at their absolute best after 2 years (which is also what I was told) but 5 years later, they are still improving and getting stronger. I continue to say time and time again – everyone’s experience with GBS is their own and may not look like someone else’s. The doctors (and nurses) need to get to know exactly what the needs of that patient are and go from there. What works for one patient may not work for another.

For example, with me, my psychological needs were more important than my physical needs – to me, it was more important that I be at home with my newborn daughter, than it was to spend another few weeks in rehab. Maybe I would have gotten stronger and walked a little sooner had I stayed, but that wasn’t my priority, being with Casey was. Luckily, my neurologist at the Glenrose hospital understood that and released me after three weeks instead of another several.

Overall, the talk went really well, and I got to answer some questions, which I thought was very neat. The most important thing that I hoped that these medical students got out of my talk was for them to treat each and every case of GBS individually.

With regards to other advocacy work I have going on, I continue to do whatever I can to create awareness. I still put on a support group in Edmonton every three months and I continue to email people around the world that have questions for me about Guillain-Barre. In May, I will be attending a GBS/CIDP conference in Vancouver, and we will also be putting on our annual Awareness Picnic for GBS/CIDP Awareness Month the weekend after. Stay tuned for more details!!

In my personal life, as I mentioned before, I have gone through quite a substantial amount of soul searching, and I can say that I have grown and changed more in the last six months than I have in my entire life. GBS changed my entire outlook on life and I have been aspiring to not only give myself the life that I have always wanted, but to also be the person that I have always wanted to be… I know firsthand that life is just too short not to do that now.

My life has been going through a lot of changes in the last six months, one of those changes being that my husband and I have decided to move forward with a permanent separation. What led to the breakdown of our marriage is not something that can be explained in one conversation, nor should it be, but we are doing what is best for the three of us. And what’s best for us is that James and I move forward as friends. Our number one priority will always be our daughter Casey and the three of us will always be a family. Yes, our relationship looks a little different now than it did six months ago when we were still together, but I know that we will continue to be in each other’s lives as great friends.

I will forever appreciate all that James did for me when I was in the hospital dealing with GBS, and there isn’t anyone that I could imagine going through that experience with. I could have not gotten to where I am today had it not been for all of his love and support along the way. He is a huge reason that I was able to get back to my life. And although I did write my experience with GBS, in my book titled, Happily Ever After, I still believe that I am going to live my version of “Happily Ever After”, it will just look a little bit different now. And I am ok with that.

I think it is very important (for everyone) to take a look at the situations we are put into; at the struggles that we are faced with, and keep moving forward. Yes, of course there are going to be hard days, but what will get you through those days, is trusting that you will make it through them, and trusting that everything happens for a reason.

I constantly get asked how I am coping and how I am managing to stay so positive through all of this, and the key to my happiness, is accepting where I am in my life, and making the best of it every day. And that doesn’t just apply to my situation, it applies to any situation. Life isn’t always perfect, but as I have learned from GBS, it is most definitely worth it.

Looking back on my experience, I see that GBS was a blessing, as it has prepared me for every challenge that I will ever have to face in my life. Because in retrospect, no matter how shitty of a day I may have, no matter what sort of drama comes into my life, nothing can compare to what I went through with GBS. Even in my darkest days in ICU, when I thought I was going to die, I eventually got through it. There were times that I didn’t think I would, but I did, and now I’m a lot stronger, and a lot more capable of handling tough situations. I realize, and I hope others realize that even when things are going so terrible you almost can’t breathe; it won’t always be like this. Things will get better. And not only will you get through it, you will be stronger because of it. You just have to take each day, one obstacle at a time.

Because of my experience with GBS – knowing everything that I made it through in the past- I have been able to maintain a very positive outlook in the challenges I have faced over the last few months. And now that I’ve gotten past them, I am in a very good place. I am happy and very excited about my future and what’s to come in the next chapter of my life!


Posted in 2013 | 3 Comments

Life Goes On…

I can’t believe it’s already November…the months are just flying by lately. Having a young daughter that literally seems to be growing before my eyes definitely doesn’t slow time down either, that’s for sure. It’s crazy how much she changes from week to week! She is such a little sunshine and brings so much joy, love and laughter into my life
An update on some of the things that have occurred since my last post:

My girlfriend Sarah and I completed the 5 km “Climb of Hope” run in September, which was such an amazing accomplishment for me. Although this was my second 5km race, this was the first time I ran one – and this was no easy course!!! It was in a ravine so a lot of it was uphill, it was plus 20 and very sunny, plus we had to climb a huge staircase near the end of it!! My thighs were burning for days after! I was very pleased with myself; I knew that this was not a very competitive race (its purpose was fundraising for Cancer) and a lot of people weren’t running all out for it, but I was still able to keep up with the more serious runners. For someone that has had GBS, I think that’s pretty amazing.

Although I had known where the race was, I wasn’t quite sure where we would end up, and I couldn’t help but smile when we ran across the pedestrian bridge over the North Saskatchewan River and through the river valley. It was almost exactly 2 years prior to the day that I went to the exact same spot for my first “official” walk after GBS. I talk about that walk in my book – about how I couldn’t go more than ten minutes because my legs weren’t strong enough yet – and I just thought it was really neat that two years later I was able to do that same path, only running! It was such a great achievement, and it made me even prouder when I saw that I placed 77 out of 315 people. Not bad at all!!

Although I stay in contact with many GBS patients around the world through email, I don’t get to meet any of them in person- which makes it tough when all I really want to do is show them that they will get better, like I have. But recently I had the pleasure of meeting a young woman who was diagnosed with GBS a few months ago, in person.  A mutual friend got me in touch with her family, and I went to visit her in hopes of lifting her spirits.

Not only was she in the same hospital that I was, she was in the very same room in the Intensive Care Unit that I was two and a half years ago. It gave me shivers to think of being back in that room; although I have been back to the ICU many times, I have not stepped into that room since I was rolled out of there on my air bed in May of 2011. Being back in ICU always brings back memories for me; the smell of the air, the sound of the machines beeping and the overall atmosphere- it all brings me back to the time I spent there. But I can handle it and it is never hard going back. However, I was nervous about going back into my old room and I wondered if being back in there would be too hard. This was the room where I spent 70 days laying paralyzed, the room where I went through the most pain and suffering I’ve ever been through, and the room where I had come to terms that I was probably going to die in. But despite these feelings, I was determined to walk in there with my head held high and be as positive as I could for the young woman with GBS; because I knew that’s what she needed.

As it turned out, when I got to ICU to see her, I received the wonderful news that she had improved and was moved to a regular ward. I’ll admit I did feel a sense of relief that I didn’t have to go back into my old room! When I got to her room to meet her, it was definitely hard to see her in the state that she was in; physically unable to move much of her body, and emotionally drained. I could tell that she was in so much pain both physically and mentally. She constantly shifted her body, struggling to find a comfy position that would ease the pain, likely wondering when she could get her next dose of medication. I had actually forgotten about all the pain but as I watched her it all came back to me. She had tears in her eyes for most of the time I was with her, likely trying to hold back the tears just like I had so many times. She made one comment about how she just wanted to wake up from this nightmare and I just wanted to cry. Because I knew exactly what she meant. It didn’t matter that she was being told that she would get through this one day, what mattered to her was that she was going through hell now. I knew it all too well.

I spent about an hour with her; she asked me questions and I tried to answer them in the most honest yet motivating way possible. She needed to know that yes, this was going to be a very difficult journey – learning to walk again would be one of the hardest things she would ever have to do in her life, but she would get through it, and she would come out of it even stronger, just like I did.

I had tears in my eyes when I left her room that day, just knowing exactly how she was feeling. But deep down, I knew that one day she would get back to her life, even if she didn’t believe that quite yet. I had so much faith in her, even if she didn’t have it for herself.

I have visited her since then and brought along a picture with the quote “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at days end, saying, I will try again tomorrow.” This is the picture that I had hanging on the wall in front of my bed in the ICU. We put it in front of her bed as well, so that she could look at it every day, just like I did for many weeks. I knew it was just words on piece of paper, but I hoped that these words inspired her the way that they did for me.

I recently received the exciting news that she was transferred to the Glenrose for rehab…I am very excited for her as I know how amazing the Glenrose is and how much it will help her get back to her life. And I look forward to seeing her again soon and seeing all of her progress!

Litfest was just a few weeks ago, and I was so honored to be a part of such a wonderful festival. Along with a few other authors, I did a reading at the Writer’s Cabaret, where I shared a little bit about my story and read a piece from my book. Like I have mentioned before, I hate public speaking but slowly but surely I am getting more comfortable in front of an audience. I think it definitely helps that I am talking about something that I know so well and that I hold so dear to my heart!

Being a part of Litfest gave me the ability to partake in other author events, and one that I was extremely excited to attend was the one for Amanda Lindhout. She was the young journalist that was kidnapped in Somolia and held captive for 15 months, and she wrote about her journey, in the book titled “A House in the Sky.” She has had a lot of publicity; she is on Oprah’s book list; and not surprisingly, the event was sold out. Within minutes of hearing her speak, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to her. Now obviously what we went through was COMPLETELY different; I can’t even imagine what it was like for her to be kidnapped and brutally abused for 15 months in captivity, but there were definitely some similarities that I felt from my story to hers. We were the same age when we experienced these dramatic events, and these events were completely life changing to the both of us. Hearing her talk about how she struggled to make it through every minute of every day certainly reminded me of my own time that I struggled. How she talked about what she would do if she made it out alive; how she sometimes prayed that she would just die instead, these things I felt as well. But the thing that I connected with her the most on was the way that she came out of this. After all that she had been through, she has come out as an even stronger person. She is now doing all she can to help others, and she has even started The Global Enrichment Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to igniting leadership in Somalia through educational and community-based empowerment programs.  I read her book in under a week and wow is all I have to say – the things that she did with her mind to be able to get through the horrendous things that happened to her is beyond inspiring. I strongly recommend reading this book; it is definitely eye opening and extremely inspirational!

Being a part of Litfest opened up the door for some free publicity, and I was approached to do interviews with two Edmonton based media outlets. The first was AMI-TV, a Canadian television channel that broadcasts media to those that are blind, deaf, learning disabled, or learning English as a second language. The second was CJSR; the campus based radio station at the University of Alberta.  I am always grateful for the continued interest in my story – being able to share my experience with them is such a great way to create awareness about Guillain-Barre syndrome. The interview with AMI-TV aired at the end of October, which can be viewed HERE. The interview with CJSR is still being edited but I will post once it has aired.

I am very excited for my next big endeavor – my first speaking engagement at a Women’s Empowerment Conference, this upcoming weekend. I am very excited to share my experience with GBS with the women at the conference and hope that my story inspires and empowers them to live their lives to the absolute fullest!

In my personal life, things have been a little crazy and hectic, and like I mentioned before, this seems to get in the way of me writing as often as I would like to….but I will certainly try to keep you updated as often as I can!

Like I have written about many times, Guillain-Barre has changed me so much as a person, and continues to change me every day. Although it was almost three years ago that I was diagnosed- and there are often days where I go by without thinking about it – there is not a day that goes by where I am not making decisions based on my experience.

What I went through changed my entire outlook on life. I am constantly thinking about who I am and who I want to be, and aspiring to become that person. And unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately, I don’t quite know) this has caused me quite a bit of confusion about the life that I am leading today. I am taking some time on my own to do some major soul searching and hope that the answers will soon come to me.

I know a lot of people can’t relate to what I went through, as most people don’t experience a near death experience under 30. But what people need to realize, is that near death experiences profoundly change people’s lives. My experience with GBS was a life changing event; it moved me, it shook me up, and it completely changed my perspective, on EVERYTHING. And I have embarked on this new road to self-discovery and self-development. Most people don’t get serious about bettering themselves as a person until they experience a life-changing event, and this is where I am currently at. I know how short life is, and just how quickly things can change at any minute. Life is too short to be anything but the person you want to be.  So bear with me as I continue on this journey of mine that I call “Life”.

And one thing that I have learned about life, is that it always goes on. Not matter what, we all get through the hard times, and come out even stronger than when we went in. In the end, everything always works out the way that it is meant to.


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Goodbye summer

Summer is slowly winding down. When I look back on the weather over the last few months, we’ve been pretty lucky. Overall, we had a really nice summer, and almost every weekend was hot and sunny. We were fortunate to be able to get out of the city a few times as well. In July I had a friend’s wedding in Canmore with a large group of friends, then August we spent nine days in BC; two days in Golden, five in Salmon Arm with my cousin Spencer and his girlfriend Faith, and two in Clearwater (for a family reunion). The weather for all three trips was beautiful as well and our family really got to enjoy the sun.
On top of our time away we have been keeping pretty busy. We took Casey to K-Days, our fair in Edmonton, which she loved. Even though it was raining, Casey had such a great time. Over a month later and she is still talking about the horsey rides she went on. I love watching her experience things for the first time. Her excitement and joy makes these things so much fun. Now I understand why my parents made sure to take us to all these things when I was little! 20130909-204738.jpg

We also finished several different projects at our house this summer, including getting new shingles for our roof, building a neck deck in our yard, moving our spare room to the basement and making Casey a toy room. 

Physically, not much has changed with my residuals from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. My legs are still weaker than normal, but I am still running, which is great therapy for them. Along with several of my girlfriends, I completed my first official 5km race at Color Me Rad in early July, and even though I could have easily ran it, we chose to walk instead. There were a lot of us, and some of the girls have previous injuries, so we decided to walk it together as a group. Getting blasted with color bombs was a lot of fun and we will definitely be doing it again next year!


There is another 5km run next weekend that I will be running with my girlfriend Sarah, called Climb of Hope, which raises money for The Canadian Cancer Society. Both my auntie and my grandmother passed away from cancer so this is a great cause for me to raise money for. This run is a bit different, as it incorporates stairs; so Sarah and I have been training on stairs as often as we can. I’m actually quite impressed that my weak ankles can even handle it!!

My ankles are still quite weak, and although it truly breaks my heart to admit this, I have accepted the fact that I will probably never wear heels as often as I did before GBS. They are just too hard to walk in. The risk of twisting or breaking my ankle just isn’t worth it so unless it’s a very special occasion and indoors, I only ever wear flats now. And for that reason, I don’t think I will ever feel quite like myself again. But oh well, there are worse things in life that not being able to wear high heels….hmmm….did I really just say that ?

I still suffer from foot drop too; which sometimes causes me to catch my toe on the ground when I walk, and in mid-August I got my first injury because of it. Well partially because of it anyways. I was out for a run and a piece of the sidewalk was sticking up higher than the rest, which my toe caught, and I went FLYING! I smashed up my knee really badly, which looked awful, but it heeled pretty quickly, and hey it could have been worse, it could have been my face! It was only a week before I was able to start running again and now I am much more aware of it.

I have actually started running on my lunch breaks now, which is a schedule that I find a lot easier to stick to. I usually just stay around my office for lunch anyways, and this frees up my evenings with  Casey. It’s crazy how much I love running now; I used to hate it and could never imagine doing it regularly, but now it’s such a big part of my life and my recovery from GBS. I find it gives me much more energy, and it’s such a great stress-reliever. I always look forward to getting out in the fresh air, listening to music, being alone with my thoughts and pumping out some endorphins.

In addition to running, I have also started the Insanity program again. With how busy we have been this summer, I haven’t been going for runs as often as I would like to…plus with all the trips away it’s been hard to eat healthy, so I’ve started to put on a few pounds. I’ve tried other programs but I have yet to find anything that motivates me as much as Shawn T from Insanity, so getting back into it was an easy solution for me. I’m on my second week and am loving it just as much as last time. Even though I’ve done it before, it’s still extremely challenging and such an amazing workout. And I can tell already that it will help re-strengthen my ankles again, which hopefully means I can wear high heels more often down the road!

As for my book, I continue to reach people all around the world. Most recently, the family of a young woman in California (who is the same age as I was when I was diagnosed with GBS) contacted me asking me to Skype with her. Of course I agreed. I could understand completely why she would want to talk to someone that had been through what she was going through, and I was very excited to show her that she will recover from Guillain-Barre and to keep fighting.

But as soon as I saw her on my screen, my excitement changed to sadness. I didn’t think I would be affected by seeing her, but I was. She was in ICU, paralyzed in a hospital bed, with a tracheotomy tube sticking out of her neck, just like I was, and my own experience came rushing back to me. It was all too familiar. I could hear the ventilator beeping in the background, just like it did for me every minute for three months straight, and it gave me the chills. I watched as she struggled to breathe through the machine, while also trying to talk – which I know is extremely difficult to do – and it brought me back to the severe panic attacks I got from just trying to breathe. I didn’t need to know her to understand what she was feeling. Not only could I see it in her eyes, but I also just knew, because I had been there too. I knew she was in pain, both physically and mentally. She looked sad, lost, terrified and broken…exactly how I felt.

I kept it together in spite of the feelings it was bringing up, and I answered all the questions she had; like hard rehab would be, how long it took for me to walk again and what her chances of recovery were. And I was more than happy to share that I was back to normal now and that I have made a complete recovery. I was happy to tell her that she had every reason to believe that she would make a complete recovery as well, that it would just take time.

As soon as the call ended, I cried. I cried because I knew that even though I had answered all her questions – even though I had showed her that you can recover from GBS – it wouldn’t change how she felt. It wouldn’t take away her pain, her fear or her sadness. And I knew exactly how much work was ahead of her and that she still had such a long way to go. Getting out of ICU was just the beginning of a long, long road to recovery. And my heart broke for her. But, I also knew that eventually she would get past this nightmare, and I knew that she would come out of it even stronger than before. Even if I couldn’t take away her pain, I hoped that I gave her the strength to keep fighting, even if just for a moment.

LitFest is less than two months away, which I am so excited about! For those of you that haven’t read my previous posts, I have been invited to be a part of LitFest – a literary festival in Edmonton that celebrates writing over 12 days at various different venues around the city. I am honored and very excited to be doing a reading from my book “Happily Ever After” at The Writers Cabaret on Sunday, October 20th (6pm) at the ARTery downtown. Like I said before, I often feel like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City when I write my blogs, and now that I get to do an actual book reading from my book, I feel even more like her! Even though I don’t really like public speaking, I do feel that being invited to do a reading is a great accomplishment, and a great way to share my story. I can’t wait!! For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit the LitFest website HERE.






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