FROM WHEELCHAIR TO STANDING TALL

Of all the beautiful days I’ve been lucky enough to see in 28 years, I can definitely say that no ray of sunshine was ever as perfect as the one I felt from the seat of my wheelchair in the courtyard of WakeMed Hospital. It’s amazing how perspective can change in an instant. I never really knew I was moving too fast and missing so much until I couldn’t walk. At 25, I found myself facing the kind of challenge I thought only existed in Lifetime movies. Without even auditioning, I was suddenly starring in the Guillain-Barré Syndrome story. Like, who is this rude French guy, and what is he doing in the director’s seat of my perfect life? Well, here’s the basic trailer:

In January 2013, I was fighting off some strep throat that just wouldn’t go away. In the span of a week, I went from having a tiresome cough, to waking up one day and not being able to get up the stairs. Though I was convincing myself I just needed more sleep and some new sneakers, thankfully, someone else was convinced I needed to go to the ER.  Twenty-four hours and a spinal tap later, I watched three doctors take some deep breaths before they closed themselves in my hospital room. I remember a few things very clearly from this moment; the first of which being the certainty that a hospital never sends three doctors to tell you that you’re just getting antibiotics. Second, that it only took about eight minutes for them to drop the weight of the world on my shoulders.

So, 12 days after the start of a new year, I was told that I was about to become paralyzed …so much for that gym resolution, right? Guillain-Barré Syndrome is like a chronic form of multiple sclerosis, but it’s something you can fully recover from. I cried for about half an hour, and then I started to brace myself. With my mom and dad being on opposite sides of the country, I even called them and told them not to come. “I’ve got like, three books and a bunch of reality TV I’ve been meaning to catch up on, anyways. I’m fine. If they tell me a month, I bet I’ll be out in two weeks.”

‘Told you so’ is probably a poor phrase to use here, but I was singing a different tune in a matter of six days. In fact, I wasn’t singing at all; I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t smile, I couldn’t wipe my own ass, and I couldn’t even sleep without having my eyes taped shut at night. I went from 115lbs. to 89lbs in less than a month. I developed atrophy and bed sores from not being able to move. One lung filled with fluid, the other collapsed, and then came pneumonia. In only five weeks, I found myself laying in the ICU with a feeding tube in my nose wondering if I was going to live.

Well, spoiler alert: I did. Sparing you the details of three months in a hospital bed and six months of rehab with a wheelchair and a walker, I’ll fast forward to the reason I’m writing this down. It’s not because I feel like I have some grand story to brag about, or that I just stayed ‘motivational poster positive’ the whole time, or that I get to wear the handicapped parking pass of honor for five more years. It’s really got nothing to do with the circumstances; it’s got everything to do with what I learned to make of it.

Listen, just because you didn’t have to learn to walk again, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have a crappy day. Every single one of us faces a different battle. There is no more significant battle than another. The significance lies in how you choose to fight it. That’s the part of the playing field that’s even for all of us. That’s my whole point in writing this down and sharing it.

A friend of mine encouraged me to submit this story and told me that I should feel proud of what I’ve been through. I just think I’m proud that I can possess a spark that might illuminate someone else. I’m thankful, as cliché as it sounds, that I now understand happiness as a choice, and the time to make that choice is always now. That’s exactly why I started the story of this journey with what impacted me the hardest; I choose to remember the most pure feeling of sunshine I’ve ever known, and not what I couldn’t feel in my legs. That it’s always got to be focused on what you have, not what you think you’re lacking. Really, that we can all waste a lot of time wondering if the glass is half-full or half-empty, or we can toast to being alive and just drink it.

Cheers.  -Katy

INTENTION: Life knocked me off my feet when I was diagnosed with a disease that paralyzed me. In the end, I found that I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to get my wheels spinning in the right direction; not the ones underneath me, but the ones in my head.

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Katy “funsize” Mogg is a 28-year-old candy addict, live-music lover and graduate of North Carolina State University. A Pittsburgh native, this East Coast gypsy has recently relocated herself to California’s Central Coast in the pursuit of happiness, adventure, and all things awesome. 

Follow this absolute beauty and her passion for life on Instagram @funsizekaty and on Facebook.

SNAP OUT OF IT

I was in a hurry. My 19 year old daughter was coming home from college for Christmas that afternoon and I had things to do before she arrived.  I didn't have time for sex that Saturday morning, but what’s the harm in a quickie?

What I didn't know was that my life was about to change. Forever. One minute I was a 45 year old successful real estate agent and fitness trainer, the next moment a blood clot moved through my heart into my brain.

 I had lost consciousness during sex in my bed and awoke paralyzed and unable to speak on a hospital gurney.

The following years challenges? Physically it was learning how to walk and talk again. Not giving up on the joys of life? That was much, much harder.

Recovering from an internal brain injury is similar to a head-on car collision, you just can't see any damage. The clot affected the entire right side of my body, causing acute paralysis. This meant I could never feel hot and cold again. I had no sense of touch, I didn’t even know how to say my own name or walk. How was I going to handle this? I was a runner. I was a Mom. I worked two jobs. I traveled. I was smart and pretty! How did this happen to me? I was a good person.  I was too young to have a stroke.

I broke down the third day in the hospital. I wanted it all to end. I had no idea how to get through or see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was then that I got some cold hard advice, exactly what I needed. My nurse told me it was OK to cry...and then to snap out of it!
 

Time heals all wounds, even those that are more than skin deep. My daughter and family, including my ex-husband have stuck by me. My boyfriend, whose bed I was in when I lost consciousness, could not.  I had to re-learn how to walk and talk, and to love again, not just someone else, but most importantly myself.

 The hardest part of recovery was not to ever give up on myself, and to show courage at the weakest of moments. It is an ongoing journey.  You don't want to complain, you learn to live with the changes. Whether there is chronic pain or fatigue or lack of brain function, you deal with it. You can't give up, you have to snap out of it! Life goes on, and the challenges each person has are unique to themselves, so you can’t put blame on the world or yourself, or anyone else.

It is ten years later, and I revamped my life. I currently have a successful fitness consulting business and I was able to dance all night at my daughters wedding. I council clients helping them with weight management, menopause issues, healthy life styles,  better food choices and daily struggles, because I have fought my own fight and I understand the bad days and appreciate the good.

Most importantly though, I encourage my clients to believe in themselves and to never, ever quit, and I remind myself to do the same. Every day.

INTENTION: We all have something that keeps us going.  Whatever that may be, hold onto it.  Find inner strength and channel that positive energy to overcome obstacles. Believe in yourself.

xo, Kim

So Cal native, grew up lucky! Active family, outdoor beach life style, surfing, skiing, volleyball, running.  I was part of the Jane Fonda, Jazzersize generation fitness and aerobic intructor in the 80's. Life was great, recovery is not easy however!  I offer health counseling and fitness training for discerning women who never give up on anything despite the odds.

Connect with Kim at Rushfitness2014@gmail.com <3


I HOPE YOUR DAYS ARE SUNNY

When I started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, I had no idea what to expect. I pictured a very sad place filled with emotions of hopelessness and sorrow. I pictured a large, quiet house where everyone walked around silently, keeping to themselves. Most of all, I pictured sick children; children who felt so down that they couldn’t even enjoy their youth. However, as I got to know the families of the RMHC, I realized how wrong I was.

The Noori family had been at the house for over a year. Baheer is a 6-year-old from Afghanistan who has Leukemia. However, even on Baheer’s worst days, a smile can be found on his face. Over my time at the house, I had gotten extremely close with Baheer’s family.  One day I walked to the front desk and found a note from Baheer. It read, “I hope your days are sunny.” On it he drew a picture of me, his family, and the sun. I sat there holding it and smiling for the longest time.

I am always amazed at the positive attitude Baheer and his family has. Even on his worst days, he never complains about his illness. He never feels bad for himself. I sat staring at the note thinking, “How can a little boy who suffers from Leukemia every day take the time to tell me, who is perfectly healthy, that he hopes my days are sunny?”

The Noori’s are the most loving children you can imagine. They greet me every day with a huge hug and always tell me how much they love me. Even though they were taken from their home and brought to a place where they know no one, they never complain or give up hope. Both parents barely speak English but took the time to learn how to say my name. Mrs. Noori has also cooked dinner for me on multiple occasions just to be nice. Giving back to families like the Noori’s has helped me more than I can ever help them. It showed me how to gain strength from inevitable suffering. Even more, it showed me that watching inevitable suffering makes you appreciate all the little things, like a hand-written note from a 6-year-old boy.

INTENTION: To gain strength from suffering & see happiness in even the most difficult circumstances.

xo, Christie

 Christie Leigh

Christie Leigh

Christie is currently studying to be a Paralegal in New York. Although law is what currently takes up most of her time, writing was her original passion. As a fairly recent college graduate, Christie is just living one day at a time and is eager to see what the future will bring for her. Follow Christie on Twitter with @_christieleigh and Instagram with @_ChristieLeigh.