Holly was a healthy 26 year old who had just given birth to her first child 3 weeks earlier, when she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain- Barre Syndrome (GBS). A tingle in her finger, a weakness in her legs, and pain in her neck 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 again 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.
Watch Holly’s inspirational journey with GBS below:
Holly now shares a life with her boyfriend and their blended family, in Edmonton, Canada.
“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 taught me that life rarely goes according to plan; that 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 taught me 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.”