Holly was a healthy 26 year old who had just given birth to her first child 20 days earlier, when she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain- Barre Syndrome (GBS).  IMG_2230A tingle in her finger and a weakness in her legs brought her to the ER, and within 12 hours she could no longer walk anymore. The disorder progressed very quickly and by Day 3, she was in the ICU on life support. She spent almost 5 months in the hospital – 2 and a 1/2 were spent completely paralyzed from the neck down, breathing on a ventilator. She was unable to move, speak, or hold her newborn baby girl. When she finally started to recover, she had to learn how to do everything again, including how to breathe off the ventilator, how to use her hands and feed herself, how to hold her daughter, and eventually how to walk again. Her daughter was almost 6 months old when she was finally able to return to her life as a wife and new mom.  After a lot of hard work and rehabilitation, she made an almost complete recovery. Her journey is documented in her now viral YouTube Video.

During her recovery, she wrote and self-published her book, “Happily Ever After”, to share with others what she went through. Her goal in sharing her story was to reach others going through GBS, and to create some much needed awareness on this rare but devastating illness. She wanted her story to remind others how short life can be, and to live their lives to the absolute fullest.

Only a few years after her recovery, Holly found herself rebuilding her life all over IMG_1331again following the end of her decade long marriage. Instead of letting the sorrows in her life break her, she used them to become stronger. Holly got herself a gym membership, and fell in love with fitness. She refused to make excuses or let her weaknesses hold her back, and gave it her all. Knowing that she had been in a wheelchair and used a walker at one point only helped her to push herself. Her determination and perseverance helped her conquer her goals, and she is now stronger than she ever was before GBS. 

Holly’s inspirational story has been all over international media, and she continues to share her experiences with the world. She volunteers with the GBS Foundation and connects with others in hopes of inspiring them to never give up. Holly now shares a life with her boyfriend and their blended family, in Edmonton, Canada.

CardWatch Holly’s inspirational journey with GBS below:

“I truly believe that everything happen’s for a reason, and that getting GBS was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It really taught me that life rarely goes according to plan. There are always going to be struggles in our lives, but how we react to those challenges is what’s most important. We have the choice to either let our pain break us, or let it make us stronger. 

Being hospitalized for so long made me realize just how short life is, and how fortunate we are to do the things that we can do. Being able to walk again has reminded me to get out and do more things, it has shown me how strong I am, and it has made me who I am today. Life is crazy and unpredictable and messy, but it’s is also beautiful and absolutely worth it.”

-Holly Gerlach


33 Responses to About

  1. yuleika colon says:

    Hi holly, my name is yuleika i live in Puerto Rico and im so proud for you. Your fate, your love fot live, your baby casey is so beatifull. Whell im a nurse student in my 4 year in bachellor and your case of GBS is so impresionant how you find the way to fight with this. Really i so really interesant in buying your book. But really i dont speak english very well this is one of my best tried. I understanding but i dont have a large conversation in inglish. Well good bless you and your family every day of your lifes.

  2. Farica Porrio says:

    I have no words… God bless you abundantly… 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Holly, my name is Stacey I’m 16 years old and I’m surprised of how you didn’t give up when you had GBS. I’m so proud of you, we’re so proud of you not giving up. Holly, you’re a beautiful woman, I was hurt that you were in the hospital and couldn’t breathe on your own, I almost cried because I love you. Your daughter Casey is so beautiful and she looks just like you. Holly, when you was put on that ventilator, I thought,”Oh my goodness, she’s not going to make it because she can’t breathe on her own”. I thought you were going to die and not be here on this Earth with your daughter and husband, family members and friends. Holly, I love you girl, I love you to the moon and back. Honey, I thought you were going to die which I almost cried but didn’t because I thought to myself she’s going to make it through. Suddenly, God was right there by your bedside helping you to recover from GBS. If it wasn’t for God, you wouldn’t made of the hospital to become a mother again. Finally, you were able to make it out of the hospital to become a mother again! You worked extra hard to relearn everything again, good job Holly! You go girl! We’re so proud of you honey! Holly, I love you and have a great Summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. a good friend to friend in the ICU says:


    Thank you for sharing your experience of what you went through surviving GB, your video is encouragement for my good friend that is currently in the ICU with fighting this illness. Watching your video and seeing you in ICU…is exactly what my friend’s condition is right now. My friend has lot of family and friends, three people reached out to me and said their friend or family came down with this illness. I asked a lot of questions about recovery time, if they were walking again and any side effects etc. Since a lot of people have reached out to you….what are you hearing out there that caused the patient to come down with GB? You are proof that my friend can recover from this, we are telling her to fight hard and we have already seen progress. Thank you for sharing your story…you are an inspiration to us!

  5. Amie says:

    My dad was recently diagnosed with GBS and is currently in the ICU, still completely paralyzed besides his neck and head. He has had 6 plasmaphoresis treatments and 5 IV IG treatments. I watched your video and that gave me hope that he will eventually start to get better, but it’s going to take time. If you have any advice as we go throught this, please let me know!

    • hollygerlach says:

      Hi Amie – I would really suggest reading through my blog post titled Tips for Family Members – there is a ton of suggestions I have that I think may help your father. Best of luck.

  6. sarabeth says:

    Hi Holly, I guess your video is making the rounds on Facebook since I just finished watching it in August of 2015.. I’m so happy for you..what a thing…you are such a strong woman with, obviously, a very loving and caring husband and family. Your hard work is VERY inspirational.
    All the best.

  7. Alyssa says:

    Holly, I was brought to tears by your video! I was diagnosed with GBS when I was 18 years old and a freshman in college. Its been a little over 6 years since I was in the hospital. What kind of treatment did they do for you? My GBS story is very very different from yours – I guess you could say milder? I had plasmapheresis to get rid of the antibodies attacking my body. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • hollygerlach says:

      Thanks for the message! I myself had both plasmapheresis and IVIG. hard I say if they helped or not but I have made a great recovery so I’m thinking so! How are you doing now ?

  8. Farida says:

    Holly I’m so glad that I found out about your story ( I watched the video on Facebook) I still haven’t read your book I’m trying to buy it online, I’m so interested to read your book because my mom has GBS and I will be very happy to tell her that there is still hope I really admire you doing such a thing and sharing your journey with the world ( I’m from Egypt ) what medical treatments did you use ?? Or did u get cured by doing physical therapy please tell me it would really help. My mom tried many medical treatments she travelled to Lebanon and Germany they both told her to proceed physical therapy but before that she took the ivig

  9. Neji MM says:

    Hi Holly,

    I am Neji from India , happened to see your video in Facebook last day. I would really want to read your book. could you please help me get any form of your book?

    would it be available in India?

    Thanks & Regards
    Neji MM

  10. Stephanie says:

    Hi Holly, I stumbled across your video on line when I was searching GBS, it’s something that i like researching sometimes as I was diagnosed with it in 2011. Your story was truly inspiring and definitely brought tears to my eyes as it was very similar to what i went through three years ago. I actually suffered from a traumatic intra-ventricular brain haemorrhage at 17 (2011) and got a rare form of GBS (secondary GBS) consequence to this. The doctors truly don’t know if there was a connection or not between the two, but i had to deal with both conditions at the same time. It was the hardest time of my life. They did not know what was wrong with me, i had a massive brain bleed but also could not breathe nor move. That’s when they put me straight into ICU, on breathing support and then brain surgery. Like you, I had to learn all the necessities again, standing, walking, dressing myself etc, while also enduring a brain surgery and having half my head of hair shaved off. Doctors look at me now, amazed at how far I’ve come, no one would ever know. As far as they knew, I wasn’t going to make it. But i defied the odds, just like you. This is only a miniscule part of my story, just a short short summary, and i know that there is so much more to your story than what is in that video, things that only people who’ve endured the pain and suffering that GBS and other similar conditions give would understand. I would love to chat and hear more about your experiences with GBS and the lasting effects one day, it would be a true honour to finally share my experience with someone who would understand.

  11. Chanel Ibrahim says:

    Hello Holly!
    My name is Chanel im 22 years old and i just finished watching your youtube video, which totally brought me to tears. My mom has just been diagnosed with GBS about 4 weeks ago, and not to mention she has been in remission from Nasopharyngeal cancer for about two years now. Its been a tough journey so far, and our family is trying to prepare for the road ahead of us. I just wanted to let you know that I showed her the video as well to give her some hope and to show her there is a happily ever after. (btw she can’t get over how adorable your daughter is!)

    Thank you!

  12. Hi Holly,
    I am Mohammad from Egypt, i wounded dieses of GBS on October 2012, i spent 2 months in Hospital , til now i can not walk again. what you advise me?

  13. Daisha Lucio says:

    Holly. Your story is an amazing one. I am in my last semester of nursing school and we are currently studying gbs and ms as well as a few others. I found your video on you tube (I look everything up) it was heart breaking but also a great learning experience. When you walked with a walker down the hall it brought me to tears I thought its moments like these they make me want to be a nurse. Your husband is an amazing man, he never left your side and had a new baby. Thank you some much for sharing. I plan to read your book right after school 😉

    • hollygerlach says:

      Thanks so much for you kind words! It’s the nurses that got me to where I am today and I can’t thank them enough for all they did. I’m glad to hear you are pursuing your nursing career. Thanks again!

  14. Dominique says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Wrote to you on YouTube, not sure if you’ll ever see it so I wanted to make sure you know how inspiring you are! As I said on YouTube, I’m in nursing school and my teacher was kind enough to share this with us. Not only did it have us ALL in tears, but it also gave us a good look at GBS. We got to put the info we’ve learned to an actual life. Seeing the different signs and symptoms and what affect it has on the patient and family. i have already shared this video and will continue to share, also i am purchasing yourbook this week. Again, THANK YOU!!!!

    • hollygerlach says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so glad to see how far my video is reaching and the impact that it is making. I hear from many students that are seeing my video in their classes which I think is great awareness for GBS! Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy the book 🙂

    • hollygerlach says:

      Thank you for the kind words- it makes me so happy to hear that professors are sharing my video to teach students about GBS!


      • Anonymous says:

        Holly, what an inspiration you are. I’m 46 and was diagnosed with GBS this past March. I’m still not standing however I’m close. Everyday is a new day and something else getting stronger. One must have patience and know that in time we will recover. 🙂

      • hollygerlach says:

        Yes patience is highly important with GBS. I’m glad you are staying positive and seeing the improvements you are making!! You will get back to yourself one day!! Xoxo


    I am impressed with his story, I discovered when some friends here in Brazil (Petrópolis – RJ) made ​​a physiotherapy work on the subject and presented their video, I can not speak English very well, but I leave here my admiration and thanks for its history have made me a better person. I leave here my email if I want to only as a contact. nicole.cantuaria @ gmail.com, you and your family are very beautiful.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Holly… You followed my footsteps! I to just gave birth and within weeks of delivering I was in ICU with GB daughter was put in ICU with spinal meningitis.. i was 21yrs old with a 13 month and married.. today I am 42 and daughter is 21 and had her first child (daughter) Friday 3/15/2013.

  17. Howard Huss says:

    Hi Holly, my name is Howard Huss and I am the Vice President of the GBS/CIDP foundation of Canada. I have read a bit about your story and I am pleased to see how strong your recovery is. Our Foundation is affiliated with the US International Chapter. The reason for my email is to see if you would like to help us in some form or fashion be it as a liaison or just to help us promote GBS to ERIC doctors and nurses. I would be happy to discuss this further if you are interested. My email address is howard.huss@gbscidpcanada.org

    Thank you

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