Tackling Guillain-Barre Syndrome

It was Dejonn SimonsJune 2008. Dejonn Simons of Caboolture was returning home late one winter evening when she noticed a subtle tingling in her toes and fingers.

Because it was winter, Dejonn didn’t think anything of the tingling sensation in her toes and fingers. But it soon became apparent that it was more than just the winter chill. The affects of Dejonn’s diagnosis changed her and her family’s life forever. “I got up one morning and my legs nearly collapsed out from underneath me. I told my husband I need to go to hospital,” Dejonn said.

Dejonn was taken straight into emergency at her local hospital. After she lost feeling in her legs the paralysis then began to creep up through her body. Dejonn was swiftly transferred to a specialist hospital. The moment she got there she was rushed into intensive care.

By this time, Dejonn had become fully paralysed and could move nothing but her eyes. When she began to struggle for breath, her husband was told to expect the worst. I would like to make a regular Dejonn was diagnosed with a severe case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rapid-onset muscle weakness. It’s caused by the immune system attacking the peripheral nervous system. Her condition was so severe that it meant that many of her nerves would not grow back. She faced the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Dejonn spent the next year in hospital, slowly learning to sit up, talk and walk again. Dejonn’s neurologist referred her to St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital. Here she received occupational therapy and physiotherapy – and got the support she needed to keep striving for her goal. She was determined to get back on her feet.

“There were plenty of tears. Some days, it felt so painful trying to walk. Cramping would
engulf my whole body and I couldn’t do anything. I’d be literally stuck in that position.” But Dejonn wouldn’t give up. And thanks to the generosity of people like you, we could be there for her through every, painful step. Today she can dress herself and walk unaided on flat ground. Outside, she can walk on crutches or uses a wheelie walker.
“Before, I couldn’t cook or shower for myself. Now I can be almost totally independent again. That’s what the occupational therapists and physios at St Andrew’s helped me get back.”

If you would like to know more about how your generosity can help deliver essential occupational therapy and rehabilitation services at St Andrew's, please contact our donor care team via email at fundraising@uchealth.com.au or call 1800 001 953.