Keeping the Hope Alive

My name is Karen Pennington – I’m 60 years young. I am a partner, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, great aunt, cousin, friend and occasionally a pain in the bum!

And oh yes, I’m recovering from having had Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Once upon a time not so long ago I lived in a world where my body had free movement until the great, the bad and complete utter basket named GB came into my world and took it all away – I was frozen in time. But the big bad GB had made a big, big mistake – he left me with free will and the battle commenced.

Apologies for the fairy story analogy but for me it all happened so quickly that there was a sense of unreality to it all. I finished work on the Friday not feeling too sparkly, in fact my last conversation with my friend Carolyn was she would bring me some tonic in! During the weekend I had terrible pains in my hands and feet and in the early hours of Tuesday 14.02.17 I was taken into hospital and have not been back home since. Happy Valentine’s.

I was saved by the wonderful nurses, doctors, physios and staff on ICU at Royal Preston Hospital. My whole body was frozen from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I couldn’t talk, breathe or open my eyes, I was totally locked in and ventilated. I was found to be able to communicate when my eyelids were lifted, and I moved my eyeballs up and down for yes and side to side for no.

The staff were brilliant and communicated with me all the time, they took what could have been a terrifying experience and made me feel very safe, and I would give them them ten out of ten for entertainment value. I loved them so much I stayed for six months!

I was so lucky to have been introduced to Rachael Moses (physio consultant) at the hospital by Danielle and Sarah two physios on IC. Rachael fought very hard for me to come off the ventilator and did so with great success. Rachael did make me promise not to die – being such a people pleaser, I didn’t!

My life now is nothing like how I imagined it, but I can honestly say I have a wonderful life

When I was in ICU my very proactive sisters and niece had very early on found and contacted GAIN, and when my eyelids were opened to see the paperwork all I could think was what are all these tortoises! I wonder no more. The symbol couldn’t be more appropriate for such a slow recovery.

I am recovering well, just very slowly, I have had to make time irrelevant. From being totally locked in I feed myself and the best thing ever, I can talk. I now have some movement in all my limbs and currently with physios, I am learning to walk.

My life now is nothing like I imagined it, but through the incredible people in my life and the amazing people I have met I can honestly say I  have a wonderful life. I have seen our boys meet and marry and bring into our lives much loved daughters-in-law, I have seen our beautiful grandchildren growing up, new grandchildren born, and great-nephews. I have shared my family and friends’ highs and lows. I am still the person I was before; I just have wheels!

I would like to say a fantastical huge thank you to everyone for all their unconditional support and to all the family, friends and colleagues who have worked hard to raise money for GAIN.

By the way, my very happy ending to this particular adventure is, I shall be returning to my own home in the New Year. Yippeeee!

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