Holly gave birth to her first child at the age of 26. It was a joyous time, and once Holly was released from the hospital she was on cloud nine at home taking care of her baby girl, less than 3 weeks after giving birth, Holly was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome that attacks one out of 100,000 people.
It started with a pain in her neck and a weakness in her legs, and within 12 hours, she could no longer walk. Within 72 hours, she was completely paralyzed and could no longer breathe on her own.
She was admitted to the ICU where she spent two and a half months, breathing on a ventilator and fed through a tube in her stomach.
When she finally started to recover, she had a long road ahead of her. Once released from the ICU, she started intense physiotherapy where she learned how to use all the muscles in her body again, and eventually how to walk. It was a long four months before she was able to return home to be a mother again, but she has made an almost complete recovery.
The disorder has left some lasting effects. But weak ankles along with muscle aches and pains seem very minor to her now.
James Gerlach played a significant role in his wife’s ordeal.
“My husband was amazing,” she says. “He took off eight months of work to take care of our new baby and eventually both of us.”
This ordeal has changed Gerlach.
“It’s given me a new lease on life,” she says. “Just realizing you need to live life to the fullest, you’re never promised tomorrow.”
Holly Gerlach has since written an inspirational book about her experience, and the challenges that she faced along the way. She now volunteers with the GBS foundation visiting other GBS patients, and shares her story – at universities, woman conferences, etc. The title for the book is how Gerlach feels now after recovery.
Though the first part of the video is heartbreaking, wait until you see Holly’s miraculous transformation by the end. I can’t believe it’s the same woman we meet in the ICU!
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