I cannot believe that it has been 2 years since I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. On one hand it feels like yesterday; I can’t believe how fast time has flown since then. It really doesn’t feel like that long ago that Casey was born. Holding her in my arms for the first time is a feeling I will always remember. I still remember quite vividly some of the awful things I went through in ICU and I also easily remember how difficult learning how to walk was. It’s not something I can simply forget; and it really doesn’t feel like that long ago. I can’t believe that 2 years has already passed since it all.
But on the other hand, so much has happened in the last 2 years that it does also feel like an eternity ago. So much has changed in and around our lives since I was diagnosed with GBS. Since February of 2011, in our group of friends we have had 5 engagements, been a part of 3 weddings thus far, learned of 8 pregnancies and welcomed 5 new babies. We have been fortunate to take several family vacations, and I’ve been at my new job for 6 months already. I have written, edited, published and celebrated the release of my book Happily Ever After. So although my time in the hospital does feel like yesterday, seeing how much has changed really puts it into perspective just how much time has gone by.
Two years stands out more explicitly in my mind than any other time frame, as I will always remember that day in ICU- Day 60 in the hospital- when my neurologist came in to discuss my recovery and told me that I would likely not be able to walk for two years. TWO YEARS. I was overwhelmed with fear and couldn’t even comprehend it. Luckily, I beat those odds, and I was walking in 5 months. Now, when I look back on the last two years, it’s hard to envision things had I still been in a wheelchair for that time. Life would have been so different that’s for sure. I would not be the mother I am now. I would have not been able to help my daughter learn how to walk. I would not be able to take her into a pool, or go down a slide with her. I would not be able to just get down on the floor with her to play. I would still be relying on my husband to help care for me; he would still be helping me dress and helping me use the washroom. I would likely have some sort of home care from a nurse. I would not be back at work and I probably wouldn’t be driving. We would most likely have a financial burden due to me being off work; maybe an added cost of modifying our house to make way for a wheelchair, but probably just living somewhere else. I would not be able to go visit my friends’ homes unless they were wheelchair accessible. I definitely would not have been able to dance at their weddings. I wouldn’t have been able to fully enjoy a vacation the way I have so fortunately been able to; I wouldn’t be able to walk down the beach, get into the pool, or go boating. My life would be completely different than it is now. And I could very possibly be a very sad and disheartened person thinking all that I was missing out on, especially with my daughter.
I thank god every day for all that I have accomplished in the last 2 years. Looking back; knowing that I was able to do so many things that had I been in a wheelchair I would have missed out on… I can’t help but feel grateful. I can’t help but feel fortunate. And I can’t help but be extremely happy. I talk to other GBS patients still in wheelchairs years later that were not as lucky as I was. Many are still dealing with the after effects of GBS, and I am not. Knowing how far I have come; knowing how miraculous my recovery has been… being sad or depressed about what I went through is not even an option for me. Physically, I am able to live my life pretty much exactly the same as before GBS. And mentally, I am living it even better. Having been in a wheelchair for months, I know exactly how different things could be. I am so appreciative for the ability to walk again, and this absolutely makes my attitude more positive and upbeat than ever before. My life as I know it could be drastically different and I think it would be selfish for me to not live my life in the very best way that I can, knowing that not everyone has that capability. GBS has made me stronger than I have ever been. Why not live my life to the absolute fullest, as the happiest person that I can be? And whether you have gone through an experience like mine or not, you should too. You never know when your life can be tragically altered in a heartbeat. You don’t know what you have until you have lost it.
I happily celebrated my 2 year anniversary in the greatest way possible, sun tanning by the pool in Mexico with family. The only way it could have been better was if Casey and a few more of our family and friends were there. But other than that, it was perfect. Like I said before, back in ICU, when I was struggling to make it through each minute of every day, one of the things that helped get me by was to picture myself on a beach surrounded by loved ones. And I knew that if I fought as hard as I could that one day we could take that vacation. And two years later, we did.
Along with my husband, my brother and sister-in-law, my cousin and his girlfriend and my brother-in-law, we made memories in Mexico that I will always cherish. We laughed hard and partied even harder. We suntanned on the beach, sipped cocktails by the pool, danced at the clubs, ate amazing food, jet-skied, booze cruised, shopped, went banana boating, and played numerous games. It was an amazing vacation and I can’t wait for the next one.