Do you remember when you started walking? At the age of 15 I couldn’t walk. I was diagnosed with Guillain–Barre’ Syndrome. The scientific definition is an acute form of polyneuritis, often preceded by a respiratory infection, causing weakness and often paralysis of the limbs. A condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. In my terms I couldn’t walk.
It all started one night, I was on the phone walking in the hallway enjoying my teen life just laughing, then BOOM!!!! I’m on the floor somehow, I fell. I tried to get myself up, but it didn’t work. Tried pulling on my rails to help myself stand up, that didn’t work either. All I could do now was yell, “Mom! Mom! I need your help!” You can tell she thought I was playing, then when she understood it wasn’t a joke she pulled me up and we immediately went to the Emergency Room.
Being at the hospital with no clue of what was happening with my body was extremely nerve racking. The doctor initially said I would die, no hesitation no empathy. His exact words, “She’s not going to make it.” I instantly started crying, tears were running down my face like a river stream. What was left for me? To die in a hospital bed? Every thought, emotion, and feeling passed through my head as I laid in the hospital bed looking at my mom hopelessly. She tried being strong for me holding my hand telling me, “You’re going to make it through, we got God on our side and he is your doctor who will heal you.” She ended up going into the hallways, to make numerous of calls to the family to tell them my horrible condition, to ask for prayer and visitors to try and lift my spirits.
Being in the hospital with no luck of life pretty much sucks. I was sent through several different test to figure out what was truly wrong with me. I went through x-ray, cat scan, MRI, and even nerve conduction velocity test (NCV). An MRI is a magnetic resonance imaging its like a cat scan, but much more in detail. Its like you’re on a cot bed and your sent through a big donut hole inch by inch to scan your whole body. If you’re claustrophobic good luck. If you move, guess what they got to start all over. They tried to give me ear plugs for the MRI, but that doesn’t make the sound go away it just intensifies it. THUMP, THUMP, DOOM, DOOM, DOOM, beepbeepbeepbeep. The best thing for me to do was try and sing in my head any gospel song I could to outdo the loud banging and tight space. The NCV was definitely the worst test. It’s like you’re being electrocuted to try to detect abnormal nerves. Like on the movies when they have a hostage and try to shock them and turn up the power to see how much they can sustain, well that is exactly what I felt. I went through so many test and different doctors to try and tell me my possibilities. To then find out it could all be cured. I can be able to possibly be normal again. They finally told me I was diagnosed with Guillain- Barre’ Syndrome and like you I was stumped. What is it, why me and how in the world was I the lucky one to catch it? But to be able to regain my life back was like hitting the lottery to me. I was put on an IV treatment for 5 days and was transported to a hospital that had a better Neurology program to better assist me.
I refused to let that sickness take over my body, I was determined. I had to show those doctors that even though I’m 15 I’m full of fight and I want to go home to better myself. I used to walk around the hospital for as long as I could. I couldn’t do it on my own I had to use a walker and my mom would have a sheet wrapped around my stomach right above my waist to keep my balance and make sure if I was to collapse she was my support to pull me up. When it was finally time to go home, lucky me it was Christmas Eve and that was my Christmas present. They tried to put me in a wheelchair, but I refused to be handicap and not at least push myself enough to want to better myself. I had to go to occupational and physical therapy to be able to regain my strength and get my muscles back working. I went to occupational and physical therapy 2-3 times a week for a month and a half. I had to use a walker, hold walls and rails anything to help me walk. My life was like a movie, at therapy I had to hold on to the bars to try to walk. On the treadmill I had to have support on me and around me while only walking 5mph. Seems slow? Nope that was my average walk, maybe a little too fast. I had to get my gripping back to normal, so I had to hold small things and rub them around until I felt all sensation from it. Sounds strange to the average teen, but this was my life and unfortunately, I had to deal with it.
One day at home I got tired of sleeping in my brother’s room and I wanted my bed and my peace, so I got up. I got up went to the stairs and said determined, “I want my bed back!” I grabbed the rail and took my time and slowing making my way up step by step. Almost halfway through my brother saw me and helped me the rest of the way, but I told him “I got it bro, but just stay behind me if I fall” we laughed, and I kept pushing myself to finish those 16 steps. I finally made it to my room and I knew if I could do that alone, I could walk without support soon enough. My therapy finally ended, and I still wasn’t fully walking without support. I didn’t trust in myself enough to let go of my support. The choice was mine go back to school after Spring break or stay home schooled for the rest of the year. Of course, I wanted my old life back, friends, being normal again. So yes, going back to school was the only option. I started going up and down the stairs more, slowly but surely, I wasn’t going to need the rails anymore and not even the walker either. I left the walker in my room, and just started holding the walls, that way I can stand straight up and use my full strength. Within that month I was walking without any support, I wasn’t running but I was making progress. I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.
Regardless of your situation or circumstance never give up. Many people may have it worse than you, but they don’t show it. Take it one day at a time and be grateful for those you do have and what you’re capable of. I had an amazing team behind me from my Neurologist to my physical therapist to my family and friends, everybody played a great part in helping me recover. My doctor told me it was a 5% chance of it coming back, but I should be fine. I was on A LOT of vitamins and medicine to build my immune system back to its healthy state. It has now been ten years since I was diagnosed, and I am just fine, my legs they work perfectly! All I can say is without faith and a great support system I probably wouldn’t have been so determined to break through because it can take years for someone to recover from that. I’m just glad I made it.