Sunday 8 September 2013


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.

Hated the food tube.

Making friends with other 'inmates' and escaping.

The nurses were so nice

Thank you so much Tamika for contributing to this series. Below are links to her Blog and Facebook Page.


  1. I'd heard of GBS before but not done any research. It sounds totally scary. I'm glad that you all managed to come out the other side. :)

    1. It was a horrible time in our lives. I was studying, and working, yet everything in my life got put on hold for six months to care for Tamika. I still remember sleeping all of those nights on a cot beside her bed at the hospital, refusing to leave her side.

  2. What an amazing post...that sounds like a completely life changing experience...and it is so wonderful that you managed to change your life in a positive way.

  3. What a tough young lady - wow! Your daughter is strong, smart and articulate. I wish her all the best :) Glad she's doing well now.

  4. I can't even begin to imagine how either one of you felt. Tamika you are so strong, to go through that at 16! It's amazing how you just pushed through it, but I know it had to be scary at 16 (it would be scary at any age).

    And mama, you are the best mom in the world for having stayed with her the ENTIRE time. I'm sure it was the worst feeling in the world to see your child so sick and not knowing how you could "fix" it. <33

  5. What a scary illness to have. Tamika is absolutely amazing in her strength and self awareness and to still achieve those grades is amazing. Such a great family of strong women!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, Tamika. I can only imagine the pain of what you went through. It is so wonderful you have great family support and are such a strong person.

  7. so lovely to read something by you tamika, but what a scary time for you both (julie, you must have been beside yourself!).

    you obviously make a strong and resilient pair :)

  8. What an amazing daughter you have! Love this post and am so happy to hear that she is doing so well now. Sounds like it was a lot to go through together. Thankfully she has such a supportive ma ;)

  9. Thanks for sharing Tamika. I hadn't heard of GBS either. How scary for both of you. Glad that you have both come through the other side.

  10. You both sound like such strong people, what an ordeal. Best wishes to you both.

  11. Julie, your daughter is one amazing woman! Thank you Tamika for sharing your story. I am always amazed at the human spirit and what we can handle despite the hurdles that come our way. Thank you for being so inspiring - both of you! - and letting us into a window of your day-to-day lives. xxx

  12. Wow .. thanks for sharing your story Tamika. What a strong and courageous young lady you are. So glad you are doing better now.

  13. What an ordeal you've been through Tamika (and Julie!). So scary, I can't even imagine. But you sound like you've come through it stronger and with such courage and I love that you are working for Kids Helpine now. I wish you all the best. Mel x

  14. oh my goodness i can not even imagine how scary that all must have been for all of you! Quite teary here, although I have never met you all, you all kinda feel like friends! Thank you so much for sharing your story! xxxx

  15. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with us Tamika. Julie you must be one of the proudest Mums around!


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