BY TRACEY DUGUAY
It may sound like a line from a Tennessee Williams play, but Keisha Andrews is becoming accustomed to Â?relying on the kindness of strangers.Â?
Andrews, 25, recently spent close to three months in the hospital recovering from the debilitating effects of Guillain-BarrÃ© Syndrome (GBS). She was released yesterday but still has a long road to go before sheÂ?s back to her old self.
Â?It can take up to three years for a 95-100 per cent recovery,Â? she says.
But thanks to the kindness and generosity of a few local businesses, her dream wedding, scheduled for October 11, will go ahead as planned. Although her doctors werenÂ?t sure at first if she would be strong enough, Andrews will be even able to walk down the isle on her own on her special day.
Her story begins with the birth of her youngest son, Evan, on June 25. Andrews and her fiancÃ©, Gates Lagrandeur, also have a two-year-old boy named Noah.
A few weeks after Evan was born, Andrews started to feel weak and needed a lot of energy to complete the simplest of tasks. Her back was sore, her hands and feet started to tingle and after not being able to get out of the bathtub on her own, she realized something was very wrong.
Her family physician sent her for a MRI and X-Rays, which came back negative for any spinal or skeletal problems. With her conditioning worsening, Andrews was sent to the emergency department of the hospital where more tests were performed.
After ruling out the West Nile virus and Multiple Sclerosis, she was finally diagnosed with GBS, a disorder affecting the nerves and muscles in the body.
The syndrome affects only about one or two out of every 100,000 people. Curiously enough, Andrews says she was one of two people admitted that day with symptoms of the disorder.
There are no known causes for the disorder, although about 50 per cent of the cases occur after a viral or bacterial trauma or infection.
AndrewsÂ? doctors arenÂ?t sure what brought on her bout with the syndrome but some speculated it might have been triggered from the birth of her child.
Â?They said the only trauma my body went through was labour and delivery.Â?
Close to a month after EvanÂ?s birth, the active young mother ended up in a hospital bed temporarily paralyzed from the diaphragm down. Although doctors told her to Â?count your blessings, at least itÂ?s not MS,Â? Andrews regrets not being able to care for her newborn baby or young son.
Â?I missed out on the parts I really wanted to be part of.Â?
After months of medical treatments for the GBS and many hours in rehabilitation therapy, Andrews has progressed from a wheelchair to a walker and is now getting around with the help of a cane.
The whole ordeal has been rough on the young couple. With a full-time job as a paramedic and two young children, AndrewsÂ? fiancÃ© had a rough time while she was in the hospital.
She says she gives her husband-to-be a lot of credit for handling everything as well as he did.
Â?I didnÂ?t think he was capable of doing everything heÂ?s done,Â? she says.
His parents moved in to help with the children while she recovered in the hospital, while other family members and friends offered their support too.
However, itÂ?s the virtual strangers Andrews wants to send a special Â?thank youÂ? message to, namely all those who went out of their way to help keep her wedding plans on track.
At LindgrenÂ?s Boutique and Bridal Shop, aside from sending a Â?get wellÂ? bouquet, the staff brought a seamstress to the hospital for fittings, found accessories to match her gown, and even shopped for shoes for her.
An employee from RinoÂ?s Pastry Shop and Flowers came on her own time to bring Andrews cake and flower books so she could give them some ideas on what she wanted. She was then told not to worry about anything and reassured Â?they would do the rest.Â?
The Ramada Inn is helping too by setting up a bed in a special room close to the banquet hall so Andrews can rest if she needs to during the reception.
Although Andrews is on the road to recovery, she doesnÂ?t have the stamina, strength or mobility it would take to make these types of arrangements on her own.
Â?I canÂ?t say thank you enough to them for everything theyÂ?re doing,Â? she explains. Â?We wouldnÂ?t have been able to do it without them.Â?