This week kicks off the first in a serious of guest posts from women whom I admire. I thought it was an obvious choice that I start with Tamika's. She is not just my child, but she taught me how to be a Mum.
Most kids my age were getting their learners, I got a different ride.
When I was asked by Julie (Mum), to write an education post I thought to myself, what the hell am I going to write about? I didn’t have a bad education, I went to great schools, had friends, didn’t get bullied that bad that it traumatised me. However, then I thought about what I learnt when I became seriously ill in 2009.
I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and that was and still is a pretty traumatic time in my life. You’re probably thinking what is GBS? Don’t worry, Mum and I thought exactly the same when the doctor told us. GBS is a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. Ascending paralysis, weakness beginning in the feet and hands and migrating towards the trunk, is the most typical symptom, and some subtypes cause change in sensation or pain, as well as dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.
All this explained the symptoms I had for the past three, almost four weeks leading up to my diagnosis. I thought I had the flu and vomiting. Mum took me to the doctor on the Monday and he said as much. I was 16 at the time and it was the beginning of grade 11, and had only attended one day of school. Well not even one day as I passed out and was sent home.
On the Wednesday Mum took me back to the doctor, and he immediately sent me to the Mater children’s hospital. Mum and I were blasé about it, going home to get my ipod and magazines. We arrived at the hospital early afternoon, by late afternoon I was paralyzed to the waist. Later that night it affected my neck and face. (I was to learn later on how lucky I was that my internal organs were not touched).
What followed was three nightmare days of spinal taps, full body scans and so many blood test I looked like a pin cushion. Friday morning we were told it was not brain cancer. Friday night they finally diagnosed me.
After six weeks of hospital time I was allowed to return home, Mum and I just wanted out. As she was doing most of the palliative care, we did not see why we could not go home. After Mum did some very persuasive arguing, I was allowed to go home, but only on the conditions that I had full-time carer for the next few months. This involved, someone showering me, helping me go to the toilet, getting driven to my physio appointments, and just generally having someone stare at me making sure there was no relapse. Mum and I had a LOT of one on one time.
It was a very tedious few months, lots of pain and just having people judging me not knowing the real facts as to why I was in a wheel chair, or had a gastric tube. It amazed me at how ignorant some people can be, even those with their own sick children, I had many parents (guess) diagnose my illness. One diagnose I got a lot was anorexia. I have always been skinny, on top of this I had lost almost 13 kgs in under a week. It got tiring telling people I was vomiting because my Larynx was one of the first things to become paralyzed and physically could not keep food down. In hospital was like being in jail, people would ask ‘What are you in for?’
I found this whole experience in my life a very scary time. It was not easy seeing my family cry, or worry for me; I felt I had to be the strong one out of this whole situation. So for the whole time in hospital I put up a wall to try and be strong to get me through. Although it helped and it pushed me to get myself off the floor, quite literally, it was not healthy for my mind. It pushed me into a state of depression. After I got home and things seemed to get better for me health wise, but mentally I could not understand all of it.
My boyfriend of the time was amazing! He was definitely my rock for a long time, we were really good friends not just a couple. He was up at the hospital every afternoon taking me for my walks around the building and just telling me about school and trying to keep it as normal as possible. He pushed me around in a wheel chair for weeks. But then it came to an end we broke up, which was devastating for me because I felt like I was losing a friend not just a boyfriend.
I look back at this time in my life, now it being 4 years ago. I have changed my whole attitude and life to make me a better person. Although, school was kind of a bust after this I still managed to pass grade 12 with A’s and B’s. Now I have a great job at Kids Helpline. I live with my boyfriend of 2 and half years, and I have a really supportive family.
Thank you so much Tamika for contributing to this series. Below are links to her Blog and Facebook Page.