GBS Walk & Roll – Calgary, AB

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Just a reminder that I am participating in a walk & roll in Calgary (Glenmore Park) on Saturday, May 12th at 10am . This walk and roll is in honor of Laura Jean Rutherford, who was diagnosed with GBS in 2016. She is in the process of recovering, and still dealing with a lot of issues – she has been in the hospital for 2 years already :(. This event is a way to raise awareness for GBS AND to raise some money for the GBS foundation in support of funding and research! We have raised almost $10,000!

If you live in the Calgary area and would like to join us, my family and I will be participating in the walk – so come join our team!!! There is no registration fee to participate, but you can also donate if you’d like! The details of how to register are below.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate in support of our team’s walk, you can do also do so here!!

*Why are events like this important? Because rare diseases don’t get the same amount of exposure that other diseases get. It may be rare, but people still need resources and support. So please donate!!!

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/gbscidp-foundation-of-canada/p2p/Calgary-Walk-n-Roll/team/team-holly-after-gbs/

 

 

 

 

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Posted in 2018 | 2 Comments

GOAL DIGGER

It’s been a while since I’ve really updated what’s going on in my life so I thought I’d fill everyone in! The past few months has been full of so many exciting things – and with the help of B12, I’ve been feeling amazing and was able to make them happen! I’m no longer taking B12 injections, as just taking the oral vitamins (5000mcg daily to be exact) has been doing the trick, and I have not had any serious fatigue since January.

With this renewed energy I’ve been able to really focus on my passions in life, which is writing, GBS awareness, and helping others and their families going through Guillain-Barre. I’ve been really focusing on my goals that I want to reach this year, and I’m feeling so excited about them now that I’m putting them into action. I work full time and we have three kids half the time, so finding the time to pursue these passions is difficult, but it’s important to me.

And you know you are on the right track when the opportunities to fulfill your passions seem to fall into your lap… in March I was given the opportunity to spread some awareness and speak at the University of Alberta – to a group of pharmacists this time. Majority of them had never heard of GBS before so it was a great opportunity for me to share my story and educate them on Guillain-Barre. They asked a ton of questions and I look forward to returning again next year!

My story has also been featured a ton the last few months, on Little Things again in January, in YEG Fitness in February, and will be on As Told By Women this Friday :).  For those that don’t know, I will also be sharing my story at Patient Summit, which is a patient organized event the day after the symposium in San Diego in November. I’m super excited to attend my first US Conference and meet so many people that I’ve connected with over the years online! Please reach out to me if you are attending so we can connect!!

Right now I’m also in the process of helping the GBS Foundation of Canada organize a GBS/CIDP walk and roll in Calgary in May. Along with Jordan and our three kids, we will be walking and raising money in support of GBS and CIDP. If you are able to donate to our walk, please check out my most recent blog post here. The funds raised will go to the GBS Foundation for support and research, and every tiny little bit helps !!

In April, an incredible family that reached out to me on social media flew me to Phoenix to visit their 15 year old sister who is in the hospital currently battling a severe case of GBS (full paralysis and life support) – however I am happy to report that she is improving and will hopefully be off the ventilator soon! I got to spend 2 days in ICU with her, and I have to say as hard as it was being back in that environment, it felt good to be on the other side of the bed, helping where I could. It was also really neat to see the differences between Canadian and US healthcare. I was so impressed with this young girl’s attitude – she was laughing and smiling and cracking jokes the majority of the time, and I know that her attitude is going to take her far in her recovery. I’m so grateful to her family for all the generosity they showed me that weekend, and I hope my presence helped to show them that she is going to make it through all of this, and that there is life after GBS. Visiting patients in the hospital is hard, but its something that genuinely fills my soul, knowing that I am providing support to them and their family, in any way that I can. Its definitely something that I plan on doing a lot more often.

Unrelated to my GBS work, in February I started a new job over at my sister company – the job is relatively the same (I work in HR) but in a different building and working with new people. I was nervous to make the change as I was with my company for over 5 years, but its turning out to be a great decision for my career overall.  In March, I also became an ambassador for FitFive Apparel and am helping promote their clothing line. FitFive was co-founded by a dear friend, and I am so very proud to support him in his business AND I absolutely love their clothes! As a collaborator, I am able to offer my followers 20% off their clothing- using the code #HOLLYFIT. If you are looking for some new clothing (men’s or women’s), be sure to check out their website : fitfiveapparel.com. and use the code!

An update on my book – as you all know I self-published “Happily Ever After” 5 years ago and it’s gone on to reach so many people, all over the world. I’d like to point out that I’ve done very minimal marketing of this book, in fact I have spent ZERO dollars to ever promote it so its level of success has been an incredible surprise to me. But I have been thinking about the book lately and how it’s helped so many people going through GBS, and I do want it to reach more. So one of the things that I am currently working on that I am so very excited to share, is that I am planning on releasing an audio book! Audio books are becoming more and more popular, AND I have a lot of followers that are hospitalized, paralyzed or simply unable to hold a book, so an audio book just really makes sense for the next step with it. Because I want to produce the best version possible, I’m currently in the process of editing my book and will be re-releasing it shortly. The story is by no means changing, I’m just making some edits here and there (I wrote this book when I was 27 years old and I can say now after going through it that my writing needed a lot of work!!), and it will also be getting a new cover 🙂 Speaking of my book, I’ve also started reading it to Casey as she is starting to really be interested in it! I hope that by reading it she realizes that although life is tough, the task ahead is never greater than the strength we have inside of us. And like I did, she can get through anything life throws at her!!

As you know,  Jordan and I got engaged in December, but for the moment we are not planning a wedding – our focus this year will really be on our goals. I myself have a lot going on, as does he, so a wedding is just not high priority for us at this time. He has been expanding and growing his DJ company, which has been skyrocketing in business and success this year, and I couldn’t be any prouder of how hard he’s worked to get there. If you are in Alberta and looking for a DJ, definitely check out Nyquest Entertainment! 

I’m feeling better than ever and have been killing it in the gym lately – I’ve slowed down on cardio and increased my weights, which has helped me gain more muscle and be much stronger. Fitness is such a huge part of my life now and I can’t ever imagine getting away from it. Its so much more than just physical – its just as much as mental thing as well. The gym has taught me about goals and the discipline it takes to reach them.

Goals are great and all, but they won’t go anywhere if you don’t make a plan and do the work needed to get there. It takes perseverance every single day. – Ask yourself what you are doing that day to bring yourself closer to your goal, and then make it happen!

I’m super excited about everything coming up this year, MOSTLY the audio version of the book and I can’t wait to share it with everyone once it’s done ! It’s something I’ve always thought of doing, and it feels amazing to be putting in the work to actually make it a reality. So stay tuned everyone! And as always, I have to say thank you to all of you, for your incredible love and support! Going through GBS was such a terrible thing to go through but where it’s brought me to now, and the people that I’ve connected with over the years because of it, has made it all worth it.

xoxo

Holly

Posted in 2018 | Leave a comment

GBS/CIDP Patient Summit 2018

I am so excited to officially share that I am going to be speaking at this year’s Patient Summit in San Diego!

Patient Summit will be on November 4th, 2018 from 8am – 1pm, the day after the GBS/CIDP Symposium in San Diego. It’s a separate event than the conference, and will be held at Marina Village in SD. This event is a place where patients can share their experiences, and its a great opportunity for us all to connect and learn from one another. I’m really looking forward to sharing my story and meeting more survivors!

To register for Patient Summit, please visit the event page on Facebook:

Patient Summit 2018

If you are looking for information on the Symposium event ( the 3 day conference from November 1-3, hosted by GBS-CIDP Foundation International) please visit the event on Facebook:

15th Biennial Symposium

 

Posted in 2018 | Leave a comment

My EMG results – 7 years post GBS.

As some of you may remember, I had a flare up of GBS symptoms back in October, where my body shut down and seemed to be mimicking a GBS attack. I was dealing with intense fatigue, weakness, nerve pain, brain fog, and anxiety, that was so severe I ended up spending a day at the hospital with a neurologist getting tested for Guillain Barre Syndrome again. My symptoms didn’t progress (which ruled out GBS) so I was sent home, but my symptoms stayed quite severe, and in the end, I was taken off work and spent a week at home mostly bed ridden. With complete mental and physical rest, (and a lot of B12 injections) my symptoms slowly faded, and I’ve been feeling really great ever since.

Because of my doctor’s lack of experience with GBS patients, I asked to be referred to a neurologist that specializes in Guillain- Barre, to discuss what they thought was going on with my body. (The last time I saw a neurologist was 6 years ago, as I’ve had such a good recovery and no concerns that my regular doctor hasn’t been able to handle.) My doctor didn’t see the point of me seeing a neurologist since I was feeling better now, but I pushed for the referral because I wanted a specialist’s opinion. I not only wanted to see if they had any insight as to what had happened to me, I also wanted to share my experience and show neurologists that even though some of us appear to have completely recovered – and even though the initial attack of GBS is behind us – we can still have issues, even 7 years later. My doctor did end up referring me, but unfortunately, because I hadn’t seen a neurologist for so long and because my symptoms weren’t severe anymore, it took 5 months for me to get in to see her.

I finally got in for the neurologist appointment last week, and she immediately booked me in for an EMG, a test that evaluates the electrical activity in my nerves. It tests how fast and how well my nerves send signals, and is one of the ways that doctors make a GBS diagnosis. Yes, I made a full recovery and am stronger than ever before, but she wanted to see what was going on on the inside of my body and see if my nerves have now recovered since GBS – if they haven’t it may explain my flare up. Her interest in doing the test made me extremely glad that I advocated for myself to talk to a neurologist – as I could tell that she is genuinely interested in GBS and what my results would be.

I was very nervous for the EMG, as the last time I had one was in ICU and it was extremely painful –  to the point where I was crying and screaming, and almost fainted from the pain. I have would compared the process to getting electrocuted; they basically shock your nerves to check the response. Today, being back in a hospital setting wearing those awful blue gowns that barely cover your bum, and the strong antiseptic smell of iodoform lingering in the halls, definitely brought back a lot of bad memories.

But it didn’t end up being that bad at all, probably because I’m not in the acute phase of GBS like last time, when I was so hyper sensitive that even gentle touches would have me screaming in pain. This time wasn’t like that; it just felt like when you accidently shock someone with your finger, only over and over again, and a bit stronger each time. The whole process took less than 15 minutes. And then, thankfully, the neurologist discussed the results with me immediately after.

So the bad news is, that there is significant damage to my nerves. Other than the one nerve in my wrists, every other nerve in my arms and legs have delayed responses. Some nerves are more damaged than others, with the most damage being at the bottoms of my legs. And even though I’ve regained function and am even stronger now than before, my nerves and axons are still damaged. And what’s really interesting is that this EMG test results are worse than the one back in ICU, meaning that I had significant damage occur after that.

What’s really crazy is that she said if I had been given an EMG test back in October when I was having those severe symptoms, they would have likely admitted me immediately and began treatment for GBS/CIDP. Because my nerve activity still appears as if I have GBS.

However, I clearly don’t. I’m healthy, feeling fantastic, stronger than ever, and am having VERY minimal fatigue/nerve pain these days. In fact this is probably the best I’ve felt since having GBS. The damage is likely just the permanent damage that’s left over and this is my new normal; my new baseline. My body is just no longer the same, and the EMG shows that.

My neurologist wasn’t able to really say what could have triggered my flare up back in October – it could have been something as simple as a cold or stress that triggered my nerves to react and stop working properly – causing fatigue, nerve pain, brain fog, etc. But the good news is that I now have an actual neurologist again, so if I ever have a flare up of symptoms again, I’ll be able to get in to see her for another EMG right away. The test results may not be any different, but maybe they will, and then they can compare the results. And if my symptoms are that serious again, they would even consider giving me an IVIG treatment,

Finding out that your nerves are more severely damaged than anticipated doesn’t seem like something I should be happy about, but I am. There is now supporting medical evidence as to why my body is not the same anymore. There a reason for the nerve pain, the fatigue and the brain fog.

And the best part is that I will also be going to see her for these tests annually now, to see if and how things change over time. It will be interesting to see if the damage will ever improve or if it will always stay the same.

Either way, the results really don’t mean that much to me – I will ALWAYS base my recovery on how I feel, NOT what the test results say (with the test results I have I should be hospitalized right now, and in the meantime I went to the gym today and crushed an intense hour and half leg workout just as good as someone without GBS!!) But I am happy to be seeing a neurologist again that is able to study me over time and hopefully she and others will learn even more about Guillain-Barre !! If I am able to create some conversations and bring awareness within the medical field, than even better.

If you had GBS in the past, it may be worth asking for an EMG, no matter how many years it’s been. Just to see what’s going on now in your nerves. It may not mean anything to you, but it could help doctors to understand more about what happens to our bodies post GBS. So many people do recover and move forward with their lives and don’t see a neurologist again, so they have no idea that we actually still have issues this many years later. We may be recovered, but we are certainly not the same as we were before GBS.

Posted in 2017 | 4 Comments

YEG Fitness Magazine

I am so excited to share that my story was featured in YEG Fitness Magazine!

Thank you YEG Fitness for getting to know me and my journey with GBS, and for sharing my fitness journey with your readers and followers.

To check out the article, click here.

Posted in 2017 | Leave a comment

“2017, thank you for the lessons. 2018, let’s do this!”

Happy New Year everyone!!

Like most people around this time of the year, I like to reflect back on my previous  year, and start thinking about the next year ahead. And looking back on 2017 has made me feel so proud of all that I accomplished.  I conquered a lot of goals I wanted to achieve; I strengthened my ankles enough to wear 3 inch heels again, I ran my best time ever in a 5 km run, I raised a ton of money for the GBS foundation, and I climbed a freaking mountain! I also got to take my babe to Vegas, I purchased the car that I have been saving up for for three years, and I was given an award from the GBS foundation recognizing me for my passion to give back to the GBS community. And then to top it all off, I got engaged!


In the first three quarters of the year, I was killing it in the gym, macro counting, and in the best shape of my life. But in October my progress came to a screeching halt with my neurologically induced crash (my new favorite term to describe a severe flare up of residuals). While I was still going to the gym, I slowed it down a lot – I cut back drastically on cardio, I stopped pushing myself, and, I stopped tracking my food (or caring what I’ve been eating, to be honest.) My focus the past few months really has been taking it easy, and allowing myself to take a break.

I’ve been getting biweekly b12 injections from my doctor for the past month now – any time I have tried to go longer without one, the intense fatigue, nerve pain and brain fog issues have returned. I haven’t dealt with these things to this extent since my recovery from GBS 6 years ago, which makes me believe that as I get older, my residuals will probably worsen unfortunately. Given the severity of my crash back in October, I am now waiting to be referred to a neurologist that specialises in GBS, to fully understand and document what happens to us survivors, even this many years later.  One thing that I am grateful for is that the B12 injections do make such a huge difference for me, and within 48 hours of getting a shot, I feel like a whole new person again.

I’ve really been working on de-stressing my life and finding ways to take responsibilities off my plate, as working full time, being a parent, AND dealing with a flare up can be extremely overwhelming. Luckily I am so fortunate to have such an incredible fiancé (I’m enjoying calling him that now!!), who not only encourages me to rest as often as I can, but thrives on taking care of me when I’m not feeling my best. However, as he is as crazy busy as I am, online grocery shopping has become my newest obsession. It’s not about being lazy, its about using my time wisely. 2017 certainly taught me about knowing my limits, and to take break, before I break. I’ve learned that sometimes its perfectly ok, to relax, rest and do nothing. Sometimes, its perfectly ok to order your groceries online so you don’t have to leave your house!

Another huge thing I’ve found that really helps me on my bad days, is focusing on getting 3 personal tasks that day. No matter how small they are, if its just having a shower, or making a phone call, or playing a board game with my daughter, I feel accomplished knowing that I got these tasks done, especially when I’m not able to do all that much.

And the most important thing I am working on lately is GRATITUDE. Remembering that no matter what is going on in our lives, there are ALWAYS things to be grateful for. Remembering that no matter how bad of a day, month, or year you’ve had, there are always amazing times to be found.

I am so looking forward to 2018. I am looking forward to slowly pushing myself in the gym again, regaining my strength, getting back into healthier eating and enjoying life with my family😊. 2017 was a great year, but I am looking forward to putting it behind me and starting fresh for 2018!

Posted in 2017 | 1 Comment

Understanding GBS residuals 

I just read THE MOST informative article I’ve ever read about residuals after GBS, published by the New Zealand’s Nurses’ Organisation. Reading it makes me feel that our residuals have finally been recognized and documented. And it is so incredible to read an actual medical description about what happens to our nerves post GBS. I truly believe that what they describe in this article is what happened to me several weeks ago – something called a “neurologically induced crash”. It would certainly explain why I crashed so hard, why I had shortness of breath, and why my most recent neurological tests showed strong muscle strength.

Without having to read the lengthy article, these are the key points that I found fascinating:

-80% of the GBS patients studied have severe fatigue that interferes with their life post GBS. This finding is contrary to the frequent reassurance that after the initial acute phase of GBS, recovery is complete.

 -In GBS, the myelin sheath in the nerves and axons are damaged. Some of these wounds recover, but some do not. What may occur then, is the weak collateral nerves take over duties for transmitting to the nervous system. These alternate circuits have to do extra duty to replace the functions of the nerves that no longer work very well. The collateral nerves are simply not as strong or resilient.

-The nerves can no longer handle extra exertion, and when a person is stressed or doing too much, these collateral nerves are overloaded, and slow or even stop functioning. The person comes to a screeching halt and has a neurologically induced crash.

 -Others, and even those that have GBS, may think they have tired muscles, and that they will recover easily with rest. However it is not the muscles that are faulty; it is the nerves that are limiting functioning abilities. Tests for muscular strength will appear fine, for the muscles are doing all the work, and are possibly showing up even stronger than in other people. But it is the nerves that are not functioning.

 -Some of the nerves affected are essential to lung function and breathing, which may account for developing shortness of breath.

 -It is very important to listen to GBS patients. Those that have GBS are few and far between and are unique. Their bodies and nervous systems have been affected and have very unique problems and issues. The continuing pains, aches and fatigue that those who have had the disease are REAL and should not be taken lightly, dismissed, or ignored. 

This article can provide so much insight to those that don’t understand GBS and how it affects people after recovery. If you have been affected, or know someone that has been affected by GBS, please take the time to share this with your friends and family. I finally feel that we can explain to others what it is that we go through 

The full article can be read here :

https://www.thefreelibrary.com/amp/Understanding+residuals+in+Guillain-Barre+Syndrome%3A+peripheral+nerve…-a0121416904

Posted in 2017 | Leave a comment