Summer is slowly winding down. When I look back on the weather over the last few months, we’ve been pretty lucky. Overall, we had a really nice summer, and almost every weekend was hot and sunny. We were fortunate to be able to get out of the city a few times as well. In July I had a friend’s wedding in Canmore with a large group of friends, then August we spent nine days in BC; two days in Golden, five in Salmon Arm with my cousin Spencer and his girlfriend Faith, and two in Clearwater (for a family reunion). The weather for all three trips was beautiful as well and our family really got to enjoy the sun.
On top of our time away we have been keeping pretty busy. We took Casey to K-Days, our fair in Edmonton, which she loved. Even though it was raining, Casey had such a great time. Over a month later and she is still talking about the horsey rides she went on. I love watching her experience things for the first time. Her excitement and joy makes these things so much fun. Now I understand why my parents made sure to take us to all these things when I was little!
We also finished several different projects at our house this summer, including getting new shingles for our roof, building a neck deck in our yard, moving our spare room to the basement and making Casey a toy room.
Physically, not much has changed with my residuals from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. My legs are still weaker than normal, but I am still running, which is great therapy for them. Along with several of my girlfriends, I completed my first official 5km race at Color Me Rad in early July, and even though I could have easily ran it, we chose to walk instead. There were a lot of us, and some of the girls have previous injuries, so we decided to walk it together as a group. Getting blasted with color bombs was a lot of fun and we will definitely be doing it again next year!
There is another 5km run next weekend that I will be running with my girlfriend Sarah, called Climb of Hope, which raises money for The Canadian Cancer Society. Both my auntie and my grandmother passed away from cancer so this is a great cause for me to raise money for. This run is a bit different, as it incorporates stairs; so Sarah and I have been training on stairs as often as we can. I’m actually quite impressed that my weak ankles can even handle it!!
My ankles are still quite weak, and although it truly breaks my heart to admit this, I have accepted the fact that I will probably never wear heels as often as I did before GBS. They are just too hard to walk in. The risk of twisting or breaking my ankle just isn’t worth it so unless it’s a very special occasion and indoors, I only ever wear flats now. And for that reason, I don’t think I will ever feel quite like myself again. But oh well, there are worse things in life that not being able to wear high heels….hmmm….did I really just say that ?
I still suffer from foot drop too; which sometimes causes me to catch my toe on the ground when I walk, and in mid-August I got my first injury because of it. Well partially because of it anyways. I was out for a run and a piece of the sidewalk was sticking up higher than the rest, which my toe caught, and I went FLYING! I smashed up my knee really badly, which looked awful, but it heeled pretty quickly, and hey it could have been worse, it could have been my face! It was only a week before I was able to start running again and now I am much more aware of it.
I have actually started running on my lunch breaks now, which is a schedule that I find a lot easier to stick to. I usually just stay around my office for lunch anyways, and this frees up my evenings with Casey. It’s crazy how much I love running now; I used to hate it and could never imagine doing it regularly, but now it’s such a big part of my life and my recovery from GBS. I find it gives me much more energy, and it’s such a great stress-reliever. I always look forward to getting out in the fresh air, listening to music, being alone with my thoughts and pumping out some endorphins.
In addition to running, I have also started the Insanity program again. With how busy we have been this summer, I haven’t been going for runs as often as I would like to…plus with all the trips away it’s been hard to eat healthy, so I’ve started to put on a few pounds. I’ve tried other programs but I have yet to find anything that motivates me as much as Shawn T from Insanity, so getting back into it was an easy solution for me. I’m on my second week and am loving it just as much as last time. Even though I’ve done it before, it’s still extremely challenging and such an amazing workout. And I can tell already that it will help re-strengthen my ankles again, which hopefully means I can wear high heels more often down the road!
As for my book, I continue to reach people all around the world. Most recently, the family of a young woman in California (who is the same age as I was when I was diagnosed with GBS) contacted me asking me to Skype with her. Of course I agreed. I could understand completely why she would want to talk to someone that had been through what she was going through, and I was very excited to show her that she will recover from Guillain-Barre and to keep fighting.
But as soon as I saw her on my screen, my excitement changed to sadness. I didn’t think I would be affected by seeing her, but I was. She was in ICU, paralyzed in a hospital bed, with a tracheotomy tube sticking out of her neck, just like I was, and my own experience came rushing back to me. It was all too familiar. I could hear the ventilator beeping in the background, just like it did for me every minute for three months straight, and it gave me the chills. I watched as she struggled to breathe through the machine, while also trying to talk – which I know is extremely difficult to do – and it brought me back to the severe panic attacks I got from just trying to breathe. I didn’t need to know her to understand what she was feeling. Not only could I see it in her eyes, but I also just knew, because I had been there too. I knew she was in pain, both physically and mentally. She looked sad, lost, terrified and broken…exactly how I felt.
I kept it together in spite of the feelings it was bringing up, and I answered all the questions she had; like hard rehab would be, how long it took for me to walk again and what her chances of recovery were. And I was more than happy to share that I was back to normal now and that I have made a complete recovery. I was happy to tell her that she had every reason to believe that she would make a complete recovery as well, that it would just take time.
As soon as the call ended, I cried. I cried because I knew that even though I had answered all her questions – even though I had showed her that you can recover from GBS – it wouldn’t change how she felt. It wouldn’t take away her pain, her fear or her sadness. And I knew exactly how much work was ahead of her and that she still had such a long way to go. Getting out of ICU was just the beginning of a long, long road to recovery. And my heart broke for her. But, I also knew that eventually she would get past this nightmare, and I knew that she would come out of it even stronger than before. Even if I couldn’t take away her pain, I hoped that I gave her the strength to keep fighting, even if just for a moment.
LitFest is less than two months away, which I am so excited about! For those of you that haven’t read my previous posts, I have been invited to be a part of LitFest – a literary festival in Edmonton that celebrates writing over 12 days at various different venues around the city. I am honored and very excited to be doing a reading from my book “Happily Ever After” at The Writers Cabaret on Sunday, October 20th (6pm) at the ARTery downtown. Like I said before, I often feel like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City when I write my blogs, and now that I get to do an actual book reading from my book, I feel even more like her! Even though I don’t really like public speaking, I do feel that being invited to do a reading is a great accomplishment, and a great way to share my story. I can’t wait!! For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit the LitFest website HERE.