Dulcie Hartley

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By 13th March a lifter had to be employed to move me as l had lost all strength. I was paralysed from the waist down with hands, arms and voice affected.

By 16th March I was taken by Ambulance to a Neurologist where I was given a Nerve Conduction Tests, confirming a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome.

I was then transferred to Lake Macquarie Private Hospital for a five day course of IV Immunoglobulin treatment, known as the Intervention in layman's terms.

In earlier days this had been unavailable for patients and recovery was thought to have been much slower. I had never heard of this illness previously as was the case with most people, and it is written that one in 100,000 contract this condition.

On 25th March I returned to Toronto Private Hospital, too ill for ReHab so into Medical Ward and with a bladder infection that was to plague me for some time. Blood tests also revealed critically low Sodium Chloride levels so the physician placed me on IV monitored Saline Therapy and a high salt diet. I had very little use of my hands and now required assistance with eating.

During this stage of my illness I was mortified that I had to wait for assistance with my meals and with my personal requirements. The sling lifter (or torture machine, as I came to call it) nearly reeled my body apart with considerable pain around my anus. Other lifting devices had been employed in earlier stages of my illness, before graduating to the sling lifter.

Apart from the wonderful assistance from my daughter Venessa, I don't think I would have made it. I could not even make contact between my hand and my nose so feeding myself was impossible, In time I could lift a teaspoon but not if it contained any food because of the extra weight. One of my visitors came at lunchtime when I was making the usual mess and he offered to feed me, having just finished feeding his little grandchild. I gladly accepted this offer.

The ignorance of nursing staff regarding my medical condition was disappointing as many seemed to think that I suffered a stroke and were unfamiliar with nursing GBS patients. My daughter had contacted the GBS Association in Sydney and the literature supplied was extremely helpful. It took me awhile to read the ‘blue book' but it was invaluable as I could follow the progress of my condition as outlined. I felt comforted to read about others who had contracted this illness and had recovered. Even though I regularly complained to my daughter that I was not improving she would tell me that in days past I had been unable to move part of my body which I could now move. I was visited on two occasions by an ex-suffer of GBS, a member of the Association in Sydney who was living a normal active lifestyle. These visits were morale boosting.