Never Give Up . . .

Today I shared my story with Executrade. They have monthly meetings showcasing inspirational people and I was very honored to be invited to talk about what I went through with GBS. There were about 30 people in attendance and it went well – considering how much I don’t like public speaking. I was very nervous and rarely took my eyes off the page to look at my audience (a big no-no in the speaker’s world!) but I must have made an impact as many people in the room were moved to tears. I sold 7 books, and I am confident that more will be purchased, especially because of the fact they also had their Calgary and Vancouver offices video-conferenced in watching me. The most rewarding thing was the fact that the company also gave me a donation of $200 for The GBS Foundation, which is fantastic!!  I have a feeling there will be more speaking engagements to come, as people have already told me they are interested in bringing me in. And even though public speaking is not something I am that great at nor is it one of my favorite things to do, I will do whatever it takes to keep sharing my story and to create awareness on GBS. I am confident that the people I spoke to today learned a lot about Guillain-Barre and will hopefully share that knowledge with others.

 Yesterday, James and I started the second half of INSANITY – for those that don’t know what Insanity is, it is a home cardio workout program…the title says it all – it is insane! I’ve come quite a long way from just a year ago when I couldn’t even stand on my tippy toes because my ankles were too weak. And If I can give one piece of advice to anyone recovering from GBS, it is to always work towards something just a little bit harder than what you can currently do. (I’m not saying INSANITY is the way to go, as it is extremely high impact and wouldn’t be good for many GBS sufferers; what I am saying is to never give up on accomplishing more than you can do now.) My voyage from paralysis to INSANITY started out small, by first doing Physio 3 times a week after being released from the Rehabilitation hospital. When I finished that, I pushed myself just a little bit harder and started Gentle Yoga. At the beginning of my 8 weeks in Yoga there was a lot I couldn’t do but I tried and tried and by the end I could do much more. When I finished, I was still very weak, but I figured this was as good as I would get and in a way I gave up trying to improve anymore. For months I remained the same and did not progress.

 But 6 months later when assessed by PTS to be Ok’d to go back to work, they pointed out all the areas that I was still very weak and showed me all the ways I could improve. They recommended another 8 weeks of Physiotherapy, three days a week, three hours a day. And after completing those 8 weeks, I could not believe the differences I saw. And it’s not like it was ridiculously hard either. I pushed myself each week just a little bit harder than the one before, and eventually I was much stronger than when I first came in. After that was complete, I knew that this was all on me now. I knew that if I wanted to get any stronger I would need to keep pushing myself. So I started running. It was hard at first, but just like everything else it got easier and easier as the weeks went on. For 5 months I ran 4 days a week and by the end of those 5 months I was able to run 5 km’s in 30 minutes. Then winter hit…I have seen lots of joggers out there bundled up in the cold, still running in the winter. But this just wouldn’t be smart for me. When I run I have to be very careful how I place my feet, and any uneven or slippery surface is hard for me to keep my balance when walking let alone running. It would not be safe, so I wasn’t going to risk it. I was really disappointed because I was getting really good at running and with a baby at home; I was unable to go to a gym. For a few weeks I wondered what I could do that would help me. And then one day, INSANITY got brought up. A woman at James’ work had a copy of the program and wasn’t using it, so James and I decided to give it a go. We have now been doing it 3 days a week for the past two months. We just started the second half which is longer and harder. There are a lot of exercises that I can’t do entirely, but I always try and I know as I get stronger and stronger I will be able to do more and more. The program is extremely difficult but it is doing wonders on my ankles. I have strengthened my ankles more in the last two months than I have in the past year and a half. (To all you GBS patients who still have weak ankles, check out Mummy Kicks on YoutTube; they have helped immensely!)  Certain muscles on my body will probably never be back to where they were two years ago, but overall I am in the best shape of my life and I have GBS and INSANITY to thank for that.  And like I said before, for people recovering from GBS: never give up on trying to improve your muscles. One day you may surprise yourself at just how far you’ve come!



About hollyaftergbs

Author of Happily Ever After - My Journey with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and How I Got My Life Back.
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4 Responses to Never Give Up . . .

  1. Sheila says:


    As a 26-year-old, previously healthy and active female who was diagnosed with AMAN, a variant of GBS, I feel very grateful to you for writing about your story. I just finished your book and it gave me so much hope for the future. I was diagnosed in early November and am currently at home doing physical and occupational therapy so I can try and return to work next month. Even though I have made great progress, I have been feeling like I was never going to get back to where I was physically. I am now going to make a goal of using a cane by the time I return to work. I am so glad to know that yoga helped you, and that you were able to move on to running and even INTENSITY. I previously ran and did tae kwon do and have been so worried I wouldn’t be able to continue. You have given me hope that if I can get my ankles strong enough and my balance back, I might be able to someday. I look forward to reading your posts so I can remember that it gets better.

    • hollygerlach says:

      Hi Sheila- I also had the AMAN variant. I am happy to hear you are on the road to recovery. I struggled a lot with fear- not knowing if I would ever get back to where I was before GBS, but I have. And I’m in even better shape than before. Just keep working towards it. With GBS it’s all about time. A lot of time. But you will get there.

  2. gord says:

    you have come so far, thank you for what you are doing… hear.. hear

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