B.C. (Before Cancer)
June 27, 2013 was a day in my life that I'll never forget. I'll tell you more about that day in a minute, but first I'd like to tell you a little bit about who I was up until that day. I was born August 19, 1975 in Midland, Texas. I grew up in the small town of Flushing, Michigan, where I eventually graduated high school. I met my husband, married, and started a family.
We moved around quite a bit, going where we could get jobs, eventually settling in a very small country town in southeast Missouri. I was 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed in at only 132 pounds (I've always been skinny), and was in fairly good shape. I was a 37 year old wife and mother of two teenage daughters, Tasha and Ally. I had four dogs, a yellow lab/husky mix named Rain, a Great Dane/Mastiff mix named Morgan, a miniature Boxer (I think Boxer/Jack Russell terrier) named Pepper, and a golden retriever named Jody. All were rescue dogs. I also had a horse named Athena (trained by yours truly), and I worked full time as a manager in an auto parts store in the small Missouri town near my home. Medically, I had a condition called fibromyalgia, which had caused me a lot of problems in the past but was currently under control with medication. I'd had a few surgeries, had a touch of arthritis from half a lifetime of working jobs on my feet, but rarely ever got sick except maybe with the flu once in a while or a touch of hay fever.
My husband, Jay, worked a job in a factory at the time, and while we weren't even middle-class (well, maybe very low middle-class around here), we were making do even if it was paycheck to paycheck. We didn't have the newest cars, or the biggest house, but they were sufficient. Things weren't always perfect, but as a family, we were happy.
I was your average type 'A' personality: always wanting to keep busy, striving to be the best I could be at work and at home. I worked hard at any job I did, usually rising quickly through promotion. Sometimes I played hard too; one of my favorite things to do when I wasn't working was to ride or groom my horse, and I was learning how to trim her hooves myself, a very physically demanding task.
Christmas week of 2012, however, I came down with a very rare disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disease where the body's immune system attacks the lining surrounding the nerves. This effect is sort of like stripping the plastic shielding from around an electrical wire; without the proper shielding, the signal going down the wire travels more slowly, sometimes even stopping completely. This rare condition has been known to cause paralysis and even death. I was essentially paralyzed from the waist down. I was hospitalized for the entire week of Christmas, and spent the next two months recovering from this illness. My recovery was rapid enough to impress the doctors.
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