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.
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.
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. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 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.
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!