Wow! I can’t even begin to thank you all for the love I’ve gotten this past week. The last 6 days have been quite a whirlwind, as my 4 year old YouTube video went viral last weekend, hitting over 1.6 million views in a week; all because of a short article that littlethings.com did on me! They had emailed me a few weeks ago asking for permission to share my story on their page, and I said of course, not really thinking much about it, and having no idea how much attention that article would get! I have seen that article so many times on different media outlets and all over my newsfeed, and as a result I have been glued to my IPhone the past few days…The unbelievable amount of messages and emails I have received has been absolutely overwhelming!
I have shared my story so many times now, that to be honest I have become a little numb to it. Don’t get me wrong, what I went through was very devastating to me, it’s just that I can talk about it with very little pain now. That experience is such big part of my life that it almost feels normal to me. It was so long ago that it’s almost as if it never happened, especially since it has not affected my ability to do day to day things. (Except to wear high heels, which still makes me sad!) I talk about my journey with GBS like it’s no big deal, but really, it is. I forget that what I went though is rare and that many people will never experience something like that in their whole lives.
I watched my video again this week, the first time in a very, very long time and I have to say I am feeling pretty proud of myself. The video is a great reminder of everything that I went through and more importantly, everything that I have accomplished. I can tell by the look on my face just how depressed I was those first three months, and it reminds me of how badly I wanted to give up – but I didn’t, and I couldn’t help but smile when I was doing those INSANITY workouts at the end. I have come such a long way from that fragile and defeated person I was in ICU and I am so much stronger, both physically and mentally, than the person I was back then, and I am grateful to be where I am now.
A lot has changed since I first posted that video, the most obvious being that I am now separated from my ex-husband and in a new relationship, so of course the parts with James in it are a little hard for me to watch. And I know from the messages and comments that I receive, that there are many people out there who are surprised and disappointed, that after all of that, we are not together anymore. I get it; we were together for 10 ½ years, and even though it’s been over two years since we separated, it’s sometimes even hard for me to grasp. But in the end, everything turned out the way it was supposed to, and we are much happier apart. While what we went through should have made us stronger, it instead just helped to expose and magnify all of the different problems in our relationship. Our relationship had changed, and as time went on, it was clear that we wanted different things and that our problems could never be fixed. I will always care about him, I have just learned now that you don’t have to be with someone in order to keeping loving them; you can still love them from afar – and sometimes that’s what’s best. We have both moved on and things are good. We may not be together anymore, but that doesn’t change what we went through, and I will forever be thankful to James for helping me through one of the hardest times in my life. And just because we aren’t together, doesn’t make my story any less of a happy ending, as I am just living a different version now. Life rarely goes according to plan and always has its ups and downs; and when bad things happen, I have the choice to either let it define me, let it destroy me, or I can let it guide me into being a better person – which is exactly what I have done.
Casey will always be the shining star of my video and the majority of the questions I get are about her. She is doing great; she is now almost 5 years old, and just started Kindergarten this year. She is turning into such a beautiful little girl and what I went through has really made me appreciate her in a way I don’t think I would have had we not gone through what we did together. She is aware of what we as a family went through- she has watched my video many times, and knows that mommy was very sick in the hospital shortly after she was born. She knows that she spent a lot of time on a boppy pillow on my bed, and on a pillow on the tray of my wheelchair, and knows that mommy had to learn how to walk again. And I hope that as she gets older, she starts to understand all that I accomplished, and that it teaches her that with strength and determination, she as well can conquer things that she may think she can’t. Casey is the love of my life and bring so much joy and happiness to those around her, and has won the hearts of so many people around the world.
I have been in my relationship with Jordan for over a year now and this relationship has been one of the best things to happen to me. My experience with GBS changed me drastically, and forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life, and over the years I have been making changes in order to be the best version of myself. I have worked extremely hard to give myself the life that I want, and have found that since I met Jordan, it has been ten times easier for me to do that. He is the most confident person I have ever met, and he has taught me so much about doing what makes me happy, and not worrying what other people think; which is often hard for me to do. He has taught me that happiness is the most important thing in life, and he is one of the happiest and most caring people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Jordan has two kids, and is such an involved father, and has taught me so much about how to be the best parent that I can be. Although he has never been through a near death experience, his attitude towards life seems like he has – he is constantly trying to live his life to the fullest and has this amazing ability to let the small things go, because he knows it really doesn’t matter. And he inspires me to do the same. We recently blended our families and moved in together, and although it took a few weeks to adjust, the kids have amalgamated very well and really love their time together. And since I have made the decision that I will not have more children due to the risk of having GBS again, I am grateful that Jordan and his kids have given Casey the ability to grow up with other children in her life. Between my life and his life, we are busier than I ever thought possible, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the end of the day, I know that we lived it to the fullest and we are giving our kids the best life that we can.
One thing that Jordan has helped me continue on with, is my fitness. He loves to work out as much as I do, so on the weeks we don’t have our kids, we are usually at the gym every day. It’s become something really fun that we get to do together. He pushes me harder than I can ever push myself, which is always a bonus! Last year for my GBS anniversary, we went indoor rock climbing and I could not believe how well I did. I couldn’t have done it without him pushing me and cheering me on, and he has proved to be one of my biggest supporters and motivators. I have more muscle than I’ve had in my life, but that’s not the only reason why I work out; I have found that it has given me so much more energy and makes me so much happier. Working out has got to be one of the best forms of stress relief, and I don’t think I have ever walked out of the gym in a bad mood. Of course I still have my days when I struggle to find the motivation to work out, but I have found that thinking about all the people that I have met with GBS in wheelchairs; that wish they could exercise the way that I can, is always a good push for me to go. I know I am fortunate to be able to do what I can do.
I continue doing whatever I can to create awareness for GBS – I have been to two GBS conferences this past year; one in Toronto and one in Calgary, and it’s always amazing to meet others who have overcome this devastating disease. Just knowing that I am not the only one to go through what I did has helped me drastically over the years. And then meeting people who have told me that I am the reason they got through their experience with GBS, is a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. A few weeks ago I shared my story at a Women’s Conference, and this evening I will be sharing it with some Beachbody Coaches, the program that created INSANITY. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given so much exposure lately, and to have the capacity to share and inspire others around the world in all the ways that I have. Thank you everyone so much for all the love and support.