Guillain-Barré syndrome is the most common cause of acute non-trauma-related paralysis in the world, and yet few know of its name, let alone its symptoms. Here, Tarsha Porter continues to share her experiences of contracting the illness while travelling in Australia. Click here to read more of Tarsha’s entries.
My Mum is awesome. Having her by my side, along with my Dad, made this whole hospital experience bearable. Hugging my Mum for the first time was emotional for the both of us, and I remember being very aware that, like when I hugged my Dad, I couldn’t wrap my arms around her.
Despite this being the first time my Mum had flown such a long distance alone, she explained that during the flight she felt calm, happy to know that she was on her way and not at home waiting. I think her seeing that I was still me and was talking and acting the way I normally do reassured my Mum at the time; in many ways she had drawn the short straw by staying at home as she couldn’t physically talk to me.
My Mum arrived on a Tuesday, a week after my Dad, and she came bearing gifts and cards from home. I remember trying to open one of the envelopes but it was too hard… overactive hands and weakness would hamper all my attempts at simple tasks, like opening a bottle of water. Mum had decided to spread the gifts out over the week, an excellent decision as everyday was ‘Treat Day’!
Having my Mum around was not only great for obvious emotional support, but also for practicalities. No offence Dad, but your attempt at hair brushing was a bit scary! Not that I don’t appreciate the effort, of course. Mum would go on to help me shower and other essentials, as well as paint my nails and pluck my eyebrows to make me feel more human.
Because I felt disgusting. Is there anything more unattractive than gym shorts, greasy hair and eyebrows so long they could be trained to grow into a beard? I think not. Another thing my Mum did was exfoliate my hands and feet. Ah, the sweet relief this would bring. Having been reading Melanie Reid’s ‘Spinal Column’ in The Times every week for a few years, my Mum had picked up some tricks. Melanie Reid fell off a horse in 2010 and broke her neck and back. Incredibly, she has since been documenting her recovery each week, which was part of the inspiration for me to start this blog. Mum had unknowingly been picking up tips by reading this column, and one thing that stuck in her mind was Melanie’s exfoliating.
As I have mentioned I was experiencing unrelenting neuropathic pain in my hands, and eventually my feet. When my Mum first got a warm bowl of water and gently started exfoliating my stiff hands, it felt good. By the time she had finished and they had been patted dry, it felt like I had new hands. They were light instead of heavy, smooth where they had been rough and that cold burning sensation? Miraculously gone. Whilst this blissful relief only lasted for 5-10 minutes, it was nonetheless a wonderful feeling from that constant pain. If you are reading this and you are suffering from any similar neuropathic pain, I would recommend trying this out; if you find you get some relief repeat the process around 2-3 times a week (you certainly don’t want to rub yourself raw!).
I am so lucky to have such great parents. My Mum would patiently exfoliate me and rub my aching shoulders. For the first time ever she could rub my feet, the one good thing about being paralysed; normally I am so ticklish I can’t let anyone touch them! Mum would keep me up to date about everyone at home and the news and all those little things that would keep me going. She is such a strong woman, and it’s amazing to think how she took everything in her stride. Thank you Mum.
As I was still in a ward on my Mums arrival, we would do the standard walk around the hospital grounds. Then, on Thursday we came back to my bed to find a bunch of nurses with boxes of my stuff… “We’re taking you down to Rehab.” Eek!