The Girl Behind The Blog: Part 6

The following post is part of The Girl Behind The Blog series that details my story of illness and recovery starting in March of 2007. I believe that God created me for a reason and each experience I have can draw me closer to HIM and be used to encourage others. This post and those that follow in the series detail a pivotal moment in my life that changed me forever.

If you are just joining the story you can read the previous posts: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part  and Part 5.

Here it is my final installment in this series, for now anyway. Like I mentioned in my post yesterday I could still write about this FOREVER! At a later date I may revisit this topic again or write a book, who knows :). Sharing my story this past month has caused me to relive all the emotions that overwhelmed and consumed my mind and body, it has been extremely therapeutic and well worth the time the energy. Thank you for those who read and encouraged me to continue sharing.

Once diagnosed with Guillain–Barré Syndrome, my new mission became to learn everything I could about what had invaded my body. I researched, took notes, and reached out to others online. Even though there were few and far between articles on my exact diagnoses I gleaned knowledge from books on the immune and nervous system and how a nutrient rich diet can combat inflammatory diseases. I stumbled upon a book by a fellow believer, Jordan Rubin that changed the way I ate and looked at food. The Makers Diet was an eye opening read. I began implementing all aspects of this program. I bought supplements, read another book about juicing and bought a juicer. Every ounce of energy that was still left in me I poured into practically applying all this new information.  I had nothing to lose and only everything to regain. I was a woman on a mission.

Not only did I change my diet but I also added in weekly massage and chiropractic treatments. One of the books I had checked out from the library mentioned that the combination of these therapies might be useful in cases of inflammatory  and neurological diseases. Physical therapy came next. My balance, strength, and coordination were so far gone. I began with the basics – bridge pose, bicep curls with 2 pound weights, rows with resistances bands, and working on my transitions like moving from sitting in a chair to standing.

In addition to my biblical based diet, juicing, chiropractor/massage appointments, and physical therapy, I implemented two more items to my self made recovery plan: water exercises and yoga. From late spring until early fall I was in the pool daily walking and stretching my arms and legs. I would have two pool noodles with me and would push them across the top of the water for very minor resistance training. The noodles also made my parents feel better to know I had two easily accessible floatation devices near me in case I became overly tired. Once the weather became cooler I began a gentle yoga practice at home. I checked out yoga DVD’s from the library and would rotate through their selection every two weeks. I could barely balance but I did what I could and over several months began to see improvement.

With this combination of medication, treatments, and my self subscribed recovery plan I slowly started to emerge from the cocoon I had been living in. Gradually my neurologist started to taper my medication, which was painful and challenging in itself. I wrote out bible verses on notecards and taped them all over the house. When I needed encouragement it was easy to glance around and read the scripture on the walls. I loved reading 1 Peter 1:7.”These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

There is so many amazing things that I learned from my illness. Each situation in our lives can be used to either make us better or bitter. I was definitely bitter at times but once I made up my mind to make the best of my circumstance my attitude and outlook on life started to slowly brighten.

It took me many months after I experienced my initial symptoms to start to see the bigger picture and realize how amazing God had been to provide for my needs. Yes, I was blessed, because if I hadn’t had insurance or been given referrals for my neurologists things would have been so much worse. Years later I still get goosebumps thinking about how God provided for and looked after me during my illness and recovery.

In March of 2007 I had been with my job for 1 full year. This made me eligible for not only short term disability coverage, (a benefit I had added to my medical plan a year earlier on a whim), but also for COBRA benefits which provided protection by being able to keep my medical insurance from my employer in the event I was unable to work.

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), in case you have never heard of this term before, is a government program that gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Thankfully after my short term disability ended from my employer I was still able to keep my insurance, for a price. Just as things were starting to get tight financially my Great Aunt Mary Ellen mailed me a check to cover my entire monthly premium of $475. She did that every month until I was covered under Josh’s insurance.

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Great Aunt Mary Ellen

If you are just entering your career or have the option to update your benefits through your employer I urge you to add short term disability coverage. It is well worth the minor pre tax deduction each month from your salary. Trust me. I was healthy, fit, and had just graduated from college. I never thought I would need, or ever use that coverage, but for some reason I added it to my benefit plan. I am so thankful I did.

The neuromuscular specialist who became my primary neurologist was named the top doctor in Phoenix for 2005, 2006, and 2007. He also worked alongside another neurologist who served on the medical advisory board for the GBS/CIDP Foundation International. This foundation became instrumental in providing me and my family with knowledge about my diagnoses. It was inspiring to read the newsletters with the survivor stories and know that people, who were as sick and even sicker then I was currently, had made a full recovery.

The best thing I learned is that I need to be my own advocate. I know my body better than anyone else. I knew something did not feel right. I pursued and became relentless on my quest to discover what was causing my symptoms. I didn’t back down or give up, though at times I felt utterly hopeless.

As a Christian I believe that God has a plan and purpose for my life. I know that everything, this includes the good and the bad in my life, can be used to glorify God. If you are going through a challenging valley in your life I want to encourage you. God is not done with you yet. God loves you. He loves you where you are at today no matter what shape you are in.

It amazes me to think how much this event shaped my life for the better. It wasn’t until the spring of 2009 that I began to feel somewhat normal again. That summer I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training and in September Josh and I went on our first hike in over two years. UPDATE: I am no longer teaching yoga. Click this link to read why.

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Happy to be hiking again! First hike after my illness. (September 2009)

God is good, all the time. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about me. If you or a loved one is experiencing Guillain–Barré Syndrome and have any questions or just would like someone to talk with please feel free to email me. You can connect with me by clicking on the envelope icon underneath my picture in the sidebar.

Thank you for reading and leaving your wonderful comments!

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Comments

  1. What an incredible story! You are obviously a strong women! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Laura Keenan recently posted…9 Months OldMy Profile

  2. Charlotte says:

    It has been so wonderful to read your story! As you can see sometimes in the middle of the night. I can’t stop thinking about what a true inspiration you are to everyone around you. Thank you for inspiring me!! <3

  3. Tamara, thank you for sharing your story. You really are such a wonderful light. I owe you a hug next time I see you at class!

  4. I absolutely loved reading this. I am a new visitor, over from Wifessionals. I just read your entire series about GBS, and it brought tears to my eyes. My Dad was diagnosed with MS several years ago, and so many of the things you experienced were similar to his. The worry about the unknown, the misdiagnosis, rejection from social security, the horrible side effects of the medication.. I love how you took control and started your own recovery plan. Too many people rely on medication alone, when there is so much more we can do. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. Your faith is inspiring. I am encouraged and challenged by your drive for natural health!

  6. Your story is AMAZING! I cannot imagine what that must have been like when you were in the midst of your illness. Your body revolting against you…CANNOT IMAGINE.

    Thank you so much for sharing! I already totally respected the heck out of you for your attitude, openness, and your dedication to health and continuous improvement. I admire you so much. 🙂

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I just ordered The Master’s Diet, I have been looking for practical ways to improve my eating. I know a lot, but implementing is hard for me. I just don’t do it.

    You are awesome!!!

    xoxo,
    Gayle | Grace for Gayle
    gayle @ grace for gayle recently posted…I’m a PREVIVOR | laughing in the face of hereditary cancer.My Profile

  7. Hello! I just read your series about GBS. I was sick a few years ago with the same symptoms you were having and the doctors couldn’t seem to find the cause of what was going on with my body. I was speaking with my Mother and she said they never tested me for GBS, so I can’t help but wonder if that is what I had. Does your feet/legs and or hands still occasionally go numb with the tingling sensation? I am so thankful that you were able to find out why you were so sick and can now live your life!

    -Abbie

  8. Hi
    I dropped by your blog through bloglovin looking for workout inspiration. As usual I wanted to read the about page first. And then I read the posts “the girl behind the blog”. I am shocked and amazed . Your grit, faith and confidence in truly inspirational. I want to recommend this blog on my blogsite if thats ok with you so I can get all my readers to read about the amazing person that you are. Thank You

  9. Hi,
    Can I just say what an inspiration you are! You were so descriptive in your details of events that I honestly felt your emotions through reading this. You are so strong and I’m sure your family and yourself included are proud of how far you have truly come. I hope one day in the future you are blessed enough and we as readers could be fortunate enough that you do write a book and perhaps if not PLEASE continue with blogging :). You have so much great information that you’re sharing and I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate it :). I am an active duty momma in the military with an AWESOME 2 1/2 year old boy. I do workouts at home at 4 in the morning and workout after work in the afternoon. I still have yet to reach my goal (but I am DETERMINED) and I just wanted to say that you continue to fuel my hunger to remain strong and NEVER give up. So thank you again for the inspiration and sharing! 🙂

    Samantha

  10. Your story is so inspiring! I’ve recently been battling some intestenal issues and my doctor appointment is in a hour to see what’s going on. Hoping it’s an easy fix (is it ever??) but mostly just want answers! I can just imagine the fear you felt sitting in all those exam rooms. My heart is with you!
    Gabby O recently posted…NYC Hello Con – Our first nightMy Profile

  11. Tamara,
    First, God Bless your Great Aunt Mary Ellen, who sent you money to maintain your COBRA coverage, so that you did not lose insurance during this critical period of your illness!

    Hopefully those without such a BLESSING, will be able to maintain insurance under the Affordable Care Act in the future.

    In my 40s I had a similar pins and needles sensation in my feet first, when I was on the elliptical machine at the gym. As I continued, the pins and needles sensation began to rise up my legs. When it reached my knees, I stopped, and it went away. I saw my Doc, who referred me to a neurologist, who referred me for a brain MRI to check for possible MS. Fortunately, there was no sign of MS in the scan. I told my massage therapist about the problem – and she did a sciatic nerve massage – deep into my buttocks. I walked out of that appointment feeling like my butt was swinging in the breeze. Apparently, I’d been clenched in the area for a long time!! lol.

    So sorry you had to endure that 2 year illness ordeal. Thankful you are healed.

  12. Thank you for sharing such an incredible story. I cannot believe all that you had to go through, but it is obvious God knew and was with you the entire journey. He is always good.
    Mari @ Living with Purpose recently posted…5 x 50 Ab WorkoutMy Profile

  13. Toni Nuckols says:

    Your story is incredible. I have a friend whose husband was recently diagnosed with GBS. I love your positive attitude and how you Continue to glorify God through your trials. You are an inspiration to others and I thank you for sharing your story. May God continue to bless you and your family. God is good all the time!

  14. Katherine says:

    Hi Tamara,
    I found your blog today through Mix and Match Mama’s blog. Just finished reading your story and found it very inspiring! You seem to have overcome huge medical/physical trials with such a positive and uplifting spirit. I appreciate your desire to openly share your story and struggles!

  15. Well I’m the one stalking your blog now! I just binge read your entire life story. Wow – amazing story, amazing writing.

    You are awesome 🙂
    Heather recently posted…WIAW #5 (Wild and Crazy on a Monday)My Profile

  16. I just finished reading your six-part series and all I can say is wow. It was brave of you to share all of that and I commend you for your bravery through such a trying experience. I hope your health continues to flourish and that you continue to see the best in everything.
    Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork recently posted…Are You Orthorexic?My Profile

  17. Not sure how I stumbled onto your blog, but I just read your story and am in awe of you. I simply cannot imagine the discouragement, frustration, and anger you must have felt as you tried to navigate finding a diagnosis. Your resolve to assist the doctors by doing your own recovery routine/activities to get yourself well is inspiring. You put my ordinary complaints of life into such perspective. 🙂 Thanks for letting us in on your journey.
    Kelly recently posted…summerMy Profile

  18. Britani Sidwell says:

    Hi Tamara,
    I found your blog through your guest post on carrotsncake today. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your undying faith and determination is really inspirational. I do have a question about Guillain–Barré Syndrome. When you were having your tests done, what was the obvious sign that lead the doctors to diagnose you? I ask this because my sister-in-law has been having similar symptoms for about 18 months. Her legs go numb and tremor and shake…she loses control of her other extremities, and has passed out a couple of times from dizziness and loss of balance. She never knows when she’ll have a good day or a bad day. She has been to specialist after specialist and they can’t diagnose her…..after testing negative for various other auto immune diseases. I haven’t had a chance to ask if Guillain–Barré Syndrome has come up as a possibility, because I just read your story today…but I was wondering if it is more of a difficult syndrome to diagnose, or if there is a specific test or tell-tale sign that hones in on it.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Hi Britani, GBS is very rare and most general practitioners never see it in their practice. There is another variant of this called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy that presents more with the symptoms that you described where they come and go. Almost like MS. There are blood tests that can be ordered but need to be done by a specialist and also most neurologists start on a treatment of IVIG (an infusion treatment of healthy antibodies into the bloodstream) to see if there is visible improvement. If she hasn’t already seen a neurologist I would suggest starting there. I hope she gets better soon. She can e-mail me too if she has questions. xoxo, Tamara

  19. Just finished reading your story…found your blog via CarrotsnCake. Amazing story of God’s faithfulness and healing on your behalf. Thank you so much for sharing. You are an inspiring person.
    I am 21 weeks pregnant with my first at 32 years old, and I’m a bit of a fitness enthusiast too. I’m not a trainer, but would be if we lived in the states. Anyways, all your pregnancy posts have been super helpful, and I will continue to refer to your blog as a resource for the rest of my pregnancy.
    Best wishes on the birth of your daughter! Will look forward to reading about your fitness journey after baby #2.
    Liesl
    Liesl@Fitnessinthekitchen recently posted…Big News & Changes AheadMy Profile

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