Holly Gerlach from Edmonton, Canada, has dreamed of becoming a mom since she was a little girl. Then at the age of 26, she made her dream come true.
Holly gave birth to a daughter named Casey. The birth went well and the new mother was happy to bring her beloved daughter back home from the hospital.
But what she didn’t know was that her happy life was about to take a dramatic and tragic turn – only a few weeks after the birth.
It all started when Holly began to feel a sharp pain in her neck and weakness in her legs.
Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she went to the hospital.
When the doctors examined her, they realized how bad the situation was. The new mother was paralyzed all the way from the neck down.
Holly was immediately hospitalized in intensive care.
She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS. The rare disease is characterized by paralysis of the legs and arms, which worsens within a few days or weeks.
According to the doctors, Holly’s birth was probably the trigger for the disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the United States the chance of getting the disease is about 1 in 100,000.
The symptoms can go away on their own, but in most cases treatment is needed, and in extreme cases, hospitalization in intensive care is needed.
Holly, for example, was paralyzed so badly she needed a respirator to breathe. All she could do was wait until she recovered, but she must have been in excruciating pain.
At one point, Holly told the nurse ‘I’m in so much pain’ – something that worried the doctors a lot.
But fortunately, Holly had something that gave her strength to keep fighting: her baby daughter.
Holly did her best to try and meet her daughter every day, even though it was very difficult for her.
And although the disease paralyzed every muscle below her neck, Holly did not give up. With the help of an elevator, she was able to get out of bed and sit on a chair.
She could barely speak, but tried to imitate the words of relatives and the medical staff to communicate.
Holly met her daughter every day, even though she could not be the mother she wanted to be, and that broke her heart.
After weeks of breathing through a respirator, an amazing thing happened that gave Holly the hope she so desperately needed – she was able to breathe on her own!
After a short time, the paralysis in the hands began to disappear.
After 70 days, Holly came out of intensive care. She could talk again and sit in a wheelchair.
Holly got stronger with each passing day, and after 78 days, she began physical therapy – and the most important thing was to train her legs. By day 87, Holly was able to stand for the first time in three months.
Holly worked on her motoric skills and continued to train her legs and arms until she was strong enough to do the things she wanted..
.. to hold her 4 month old daughter and hold her in her arms!
After 94 days, Holly was able to walk with the help of a treadmill.
And after 126 days, she was allowed to return home.
Holly had to re-learn basic operations, including brushing her hair and brushing her teeth, writing, eating and more.
And if that was not enough, look what she managed to do a year later ..
Now Holly is in the best shape of her life!
She lives life to the fullest, something that felt impossible when she was sick.
With her willpower and inner strength, Holly was able to overcome a disease that nearly claimed her life.
If it wasn’t for a mother’s love for her baby and without the support of her loved ones, Holly’s story could have ended differently.
And the medical staff deserves all the credits too, because without them, Holly would not be where she is today.
We all need and can be inspired by Holly. An amazing woman who did not give up for a moment.