Please accept my apologies for my prolonged absence. I was called away on a top-secret assignment: under-cover I had to go and test the food at a local hospital. My commentary about the food will follow in due course, but first I want to tell you about a woman in my ward, her name is Zaskia and she was paralysed when I met her.

Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) (French pronunciation: [ɡiˈlɛ̃ baˈʁe], English pronunciation: /ˈɡlænˈbɑr/), sometimes called Landry’s paralysis, is an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. Ascending paralysis, weakness beginning in the feet and hands and migrating towards the trunk, is the most typical symptom. It can cause life-threatening complications, particularly if the breathing muscles are affected or if there is dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The disease is usually triggered by an acute infection. Guillain–Barré syndrome is a form of peripheral neuropathy.

The diagnosis is usually made by nerve conduction studies. With prompt treatment by intravenous immunoglobulins or plasmapheresis, together with supportive care, the majority will recover completely. Guillain–Barré syndrome is rare, at 1–2 cases per 100,000 people annually, but is one of the leading causes of acute non-trauma-related paralysis in the world. The syndrome is named after the French physicians Georges Guillain and Jean Alexandre Barré, who described it in 1916.

Pretty glum, wouldn’t you say? However, in the face of my shame at my self-pity at being hospitalized for what I consider a trivial and self-indulgent malady, Zaskia strove to lift the spirits of all the patients in the ward while she waited patiently for the arrival of the intravenous plasma that would – hopefully – cure her.

Said medication duly arrived and watching Zaskia’s miraculous recovery was a lesson in the triumph of faith in the face of great adversity.

I left the hospital after sitting in the sunshine in a courtyard with Zaskia; she had walked from her bed unaided.

She says she craves avocado; please excuse me for a while; I have a salad to deliver …



  1. Good to have you back Cin. It is amazing how some people manage to keep up the spark and sunshine spirit when they are going through somethings that would break some of us to pieces. Looking forward to your feedback posts 🙂

  2. Zaskia is truly a blessing for you my sweet friend, I thank God for bringing her into your life. And now you are being a blessing to Zaskia…in so many ways. That is what life is all about. I love you madly and am so glad that you are home and mending. Take time to heal totally xxxxx

  3. For sure looking forward to the food feedback 🙂 Glad you’re back home. Sounds like your hospital friend made the experience a powerful one – certainly not what you expected when you had to go there. I think sometimes things happen to us to ‘position’ us for things that will be coming into our lives that we need somehow – we need someone (-thing) or someone else needs something we have to give, and a circumstance of sorts bring the two together.

    A few years ago my television got struck by lightning. At first I felt SO frustrated, lonely for the silence it left me in, and just angry because I couldn’t afford to fix it. Well, in trying to resolve it I met a young man who was into Satanism, drugs and drink, and a whole bunch of bad friends. It was amazing to see his life change the way it did. The journey taught me much! Today he is married with a beautiful little girl. I’m glad we met, but my television had to be struck by lightning for our paths to cross. So I read about twenty good novels that month, I had a life changing encounter and made a new friend, and I helped to change a life! I’d say it was worth it 😀

    We just never know, do we? 😉

  4. Ilana Friedman via Facebook:
    Such a small, small world! Regards to Zaskia!! She owns the florist in Kyalami. Bumped into a fairy day before yesterday and she told me about Zaskia! Fairy even said this disease picked on the wrong person! Incredible strength & courage!

  5. My dearest brother-in-love had Guillain-Barré back in the early 70’s or late 60’s. He had the most severe form and “died” at least once before it finally – after months and months, was defeated. It affected his entire body – including his eyelids – he could not close his eyes or blink. He had to learn to sleep with his eyes open! He was in an iron-lung for a long time, unable to breathe on his own. G-B will also follow a viral infection. He had had a very mild virus of some sort – that he paid hardly any attention to. It was nothing, until G-B hit him.

    The problem with his diagnoses is that G-B was not understood nearly as well back then, and he had to be moved to another hospital to be diagnosed. The doctors at the small hospital he initially went to thought he was a psycho case, and treated him as a faker or malingerer. They shipped him off to the university hospital in an ambulance that had no resuscitating equipment on it (it was basically just a car with a place to lie down). On the ride to the hospital, he quit being able to breathe and if not for the insistence of his wife, who accompanied him, he would have died. They stopped off at a doctor’s office near where they were, and he managed to revive him using an ambu-bag, and he sent his nurse with him to keep him alive until they arrived at the hospital. It was at the hospital that he did die – at least once (as I said), and it is by the grace of God that he has survived. (He had one of those near-death experiences – went through the tunnel to the light – and felt so wonderful he did not want to come back!) After a period of a couple of years, he gradually got all of his feeling and function back, except for the soles of his feet! He still sort of shuffles a bit when he walks, as he has had to learn how to walk without feeling the floor/ground beneath his feet! He is an amazing man.

    I am so glad that you were able to be with her before and after her bout with G-B! Back when Frank had it there was no treatment. Just palliative care until it worked its way out and then intensive physical therapy. It is a terrifying illness. I am so glad your new friend has recovered and is enjoying some avocado salad! Sounds good to me, too! How about some guacamolé? :mrgreen:

      • He’s my brother, now (Since 1975) – but he has been Ashley’s brother all of Ashley’s life! 😉 I don’t like the term “in-law,” so I always refer to my husband’s family and my brothers’ wives as “in-loves.”

        Frank is an amazing human being. I’m so lucky to know him! He actually wrote an account of his experience with G-B. I have not read it in a very long time. It is hard to read from an emotional standpoint, but it is very well written.

  6. Wonderful post, and so good to see you back, Cin. [F]aith in the face of great adversity – yes, how often my self-pity has been shamed in this way. I’m reminded of a quote I came across around the time I last found myself in a so-called health crisis:

    There have been no dragons in my life, only small spiders and stepping in gum. I could have coped with the dragons. (Author Unknown)

  7. Oh my gosh! I really thought you meant you were secretly testing the food so they could improve upon it. I had planned on writing Nancy today to ask if she had heard from you or not. I thought that I might have accidentally canceled my subscription to you blog. So happy that you and Zaskia are much better!!!!

  8. I am so glad you have recovered, Cindy. I think it is wonderful that you met Zaskia. Some things are meant to be and perhaps this was one of them. It is good sometimes for us to see another’s suffering and to lend a helping hand. Hope she enjoys her avo salad! Bless you.

  9. This was WOW!! What a brave lady, so glad she’s on the road to recovery. Thank you for letting us know you’re back. Stay well and be safe …by the way, how was the avocado?? 😀

  10. Most fabulous to have you back and on the mend Cindy. You have clearly been missed.

    Regardless of whether your brief sojourn was self-indulgent or not, I cant think of anyone more deserving of a little attention given to herself for a change.

    The fact that in amongst your own “food tasting” you had the humanity to touch the life of another as much as she touched yours just confirms that to me.

    Welcome back.

  11. Oh, lovely to hear your voice, Cindy. And to hear about Zaskia and her amazing recovery. It’s sometimes very dark before the dawn and when you first met her it must have seemed very grim. I feel sure the avocado salad will be to die for.
    Steady convalescence, my friend. Hope lots of small serendipitous things delight you in the coming weeks.

  12. It´s great to hear from you again,Cindy!And it´s very good to hear about Zaskia´s recovery.How are you?You feel better?I have already miss you.My daughter is now already back at home…She had a fantastic time in her beloved CT(photos in my blog).

  13. Welcome back, Cin 🙂 Take your time to rest on the road to recovery and get well. Being hospitalized is no trivial matter but at least both you and Zaskia have benefitted from it in your newfound friendship

  14. What a beautiful face she has. Hope you’re feeling better now and glad you’re out of hospital. Having just spent five days at my son’s bedside while he battled pneumonia I understand how happy you are to be back home.

  15. Welcome home my friend, you have been missed 🙂 take best care of yourself and much like the inspirational Zaskia, small steps on the road to rude health for you both – luv Wildie xx

  16. Lovely to see you back on your blog! Almost 80 comments ahead of me and all of them filled with love and caring and concern about you 🙂 I too am very moved to hear Zaskia’s story, and am so glad you’re both well enough to be back home.
    As Amy said: I dare anyone to say blogging is impersonal!

  17. Excellent post. The more people who know about this illness the better… so that it will not be a missed diagnosis. A friend of mine has recently had it… acutely ill, but seen very promptly and recovering well. How very frightening it must be.

    Your new friend has the most beautiful smile.

    All best wishes to you too, Cindy.

  18. I wrote a comment in Nancy’s blog today about Cyber friends in which I stated that I take my fellow bloggers at face value, until it is proven otherwise. So, when you said you had gone under cover to test hospital food, I believed it. Now I feel like a ditz! 😆

    What was wrong? Surgery? Illness? Accident? I know I have been away for a while, and I am just getting back to reading and commenting on a regular basis, as well as posting again, but did I miss something somewhere? Everybody else here seems to know what’s going on with you! So, “I am a lonely little petunia in an onion patch, and all I do is cry all day!”

    You can let me know via e-mail if you wish. Your secret will be safe with me. . .probably.

  19. Yay you, my friend! I believe it was no accident that you encountered this lovely, lively spirit of inspiration while on hiatus. Thank you so much for sharing her story, as well as your own reveal… so glad that you are on the mend. Remember a line from a bad US movie… ‘baby steps’… cheers ~

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