My name is Glenda and I am 53 years old. It is now 19 months since I left the hospital. Today if you were to meet me, you would not believe that I had ever been ill. Until I got G.B.S. I enjoyed very good health, but now I do tire very easily. Don’t get me wrong, I can still cope very well. I’m just not 100% but quite honestly, I do not know of anyone who has had this illness ever reaching full recovery. It is still early days yet and my hands still feel swollen, dry and stiff. My shoulders and arms always feel heavy, although I believe I am getting used to this. I am in pain from time to time, with my legs and feet being the main culprits. I walk as if nothing is wrong with me, but the muscles become very painful.
I dream of running again one day and having the stamina to return to full time employment. I have started to go to the gym and want to build up my energy levels. I lose my breath easily, especially when I bend up and down. I have tried massage, acupuncture, aqua aerobics, Chinese herbs, walking, all in the hope of gaining back my former self. You learn to live within your limitations and you don’t give up hope of returning to the former you.
They say it takes about 7 years to recover and what you lose is compensated by what you have gained from this experience. I think they could be right. This illness is one that really has you thinking about life. It makes you aware of people less fortunate and you count your blessings. You gladly make yourself available to help others. In essence, I think it makes you an even better person than you thought you already were. It is however, an illness you would not wish on your worst enemy. In reflection you feel that if someone had to have it, then you are glad it is you, because it is worse for loved ones who feel so helpless. This episode in my life only reinforces my belief that I have a truly wonderful husband and the encouragement and support that he has shown me throughout this ordeal has brought us even closer together.
19 December 1999
My husband Malcolm comes down with the Flu. I struggle on but show signs of the inevitable. We recall the previous year and our quiet Christmas in Perth.
We had promised ourselves that one year we would get away from the usual family madness that surrounds the festive season. We actually got our wish, as it just worked out that a work transfer in October, 1998 was to run over till August 1999. Leaving Perth then, we travelled for the next three months up the Western coast, through the top end and arrived back in Sydney in November. We realised how we had missed everyone and were eagerly looking forward to Christmas and the New Year.
25 December 1999
We are both confined to bed with the flu. After cancelling all Christmas arrangements, we spend a very quiet day together. Our family and friends try to convince us to join them for just an hour or two but as our daughters have three new babies born while we were away, we are not willing to take this chance. Everyone thinks it is hilarious that I have lost my voice completely and joke that Malcolm will indeed have a quiet Christmas. We begin to feel sorry for ourselves and realise this will be the 2nd Christmas in a row that we have not spent with families and friends.