While drinking coffee in bed this morning, I began to think back to some interesting times in my life. You know the kind that I am talking about; we all have them. This particular time, I went back to a difficult time I had in college.
I got good grades, I had great friends (still have them, by the way,) but I was halfway across the country from home. I spent three years this way, and in my senior year my sister joined me. Our school was going through some hard times that year (it was a private college, so no government funding) so her presence made everything much easier for me. We worked together. We studied together. We ate together. If you can't tell, we were pretty close.
About a month or so into the school year, we were sitting in a class together (my sister had transferred in from another school, so we were only a semester apart) when she leaned over to me and said that she was not feeling well and she needed to step outside. As she got up, I noticed that she did not seem very steady. I quickly got up and followed her out the door. We were not more than a few steps down the hall when she fell down and started convulsing violently.
I knew she was not having a seizure. This was very different. I picked her up and carried her to the infirmary. It took us awhile because she was shaking violently and we had to go up the stairs. By the time we arrived at the infirmary, she had almost stopped shaking. She was taken to her room to rest. That night I ended up taking her to the emergency room. She had been shaking constantly for more than 12 hours.
There was nothing that anyone would do. Because we were college students, it was of course thought to be a drug problem. I will not go into the details of all the hardships that we went through to try to get help. By the end of that week, my mother had flown hours to come and retrieve my sister to bring her home.
Many medical tests were done. After a year, she was eventually diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which attacks your nervous system. Though this diagnosis has been disputed, everyone agrees that it is a disease of the nervous system.
My sister, a 19-year-old girl who already had a degree from a culinary school as a certified chef, was brought to the point of almost dying. She had to re-learn how to walk. She had to learn how to open her hands. She had to learn how to sit up correctly. Everything that we take for granted, she had to re-learn.
Though college got much harder for me at this point, since I never knew if she was going to make it, knowing and hearing of her determination got me through. If my sister could make it, so could I. Every day she had to learn to do something she knew that she should already be able to do. If she could do that, I could get through my day.
This morning, it has been almost three and a half years to the day of her getting sick. Last night, that girl who still has trouble walking sometimes, benched her body weight. That girl who already had her plans laid out is in the process of getting a new degree. That girl who "might never walk again" works hard at working out and getting stronger.
I know that my sister still struggles. I know that she has some days that she wants to give up, and no one would blame her for it. This girl, she is my hero. I hope her story inspires you like it has inspired me for the last three and a half years. Please, whenever you think of giving up, remember my sister. You can make it.