The Short Road To A Long Recovery

I was diagnosed with GBS on 4 December 2011 after a bout of severe stomach flu. I became paralysed within minutes. Fortunately my lungs kept working and I could also swallow. In ICU in a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa treatment with plasmapheresis started immediately. My problems with unprofessional hospital staff started simultaneously. First the operator of the plasma machine did not order the right stuff and had to stop the process several times or she could not get the thing going. I experienced excruciating pain during the treatment and then again when the process was prolonged or had to be repeated. They also had to replace the ports in my neck after realising belately that this was the reason why the process did not work.
After seven treatments (more because they had to be repeated) I was transferred to a rehab hospital, where I had to rehabilitate among patients with inter alia spinal injuries. What they could, or rather would not believe or accept, is that GBS causes the worst imaginable pain. They refused to roll me over in a shorter time than two hours and left me on a bedpan for long stretches, because "You are lying. You cannot feel anything." Also, they pumped me full of drugs of which (as we later discovered) worked against each other and gave me the most frightful hallucinations.
Then, one day I could not stand the attitude of the rehab staff any longer. I told the doctor that I cannot take all these terrible drugs and painkillers and also give my best in the gym when I am ninety per cent asleep and five per cent depressed. With the help of my children who, as a trust, took charge of my affairs, I started fighting the staff who wanted to keep me "under", refused to take any medication at all and began to exercise like mad in the gym. Easy it was not, but if I could move my foot one inch today, I tried for one and a quarter the next day. I came out of hospital on 7 February (a month before the scheduled time because my medical aid would not pay any longer. I can do almost everything I could previously do with my hands, walk reasonably well with a walker and sometimes for long stretches on my own. I do not skimp on my exercises. After I had physio at home for a month, I just went on with weights for my arms, leg exercises and even my neck and hands. My right leg was severely paralysed and withered, but I exercised vey hard and consistently and I now have better toned leg muscles than before.
I am still not as strong as I would like to be, but I regard every obstacle as a challenge and try everything. Pain? Yes. I experience sharp shooting pains from time to time and do sometimes not sleep well due to severe pain and cramps in my legs. But I am not prepared to live on drugs and pain medication again (I have heard from a person in the medical field that one of the painkillers used on my can cause one to become a psychopath, not to mention the very real danger of addiction!). So, if the pain is bad, I take two paracetamol tablets, pray a lot and work a little. (I am a translator.)
Hopefully, it will not take much longer to recover completely. I truly hope it will take less than a year. I need to start translating fulltime again to earn an income.
Best wishes to all of you out there. My prayers go with you.

jeanfromSouthAfrica jeanfromSouthAfrica
70+, F
May 14, 2012