Young Blood

Doctor, heal thyself

My life took a 180-degree turn months ago, and it was one unforgettable journey. Who would have thought, that in the blink of an eye, I’d go from full-time pediatric resident to full-time bedridden patient? I had Guillain Barre Syndrome, and this is my superhero story.

I had always thought of myself as a superhuman. Doctors often think that way. We have 36 hours of hospital duty, then go on call the next day. Rinse and repeat. As for me, I inserted my workout into my on-call days: I hit my 1.5-kilometer laps in the pool or lifted a few weights before going home. Every day I told myself: “One never stops when he’s tired, one only stops when he’s dead.” And so I was unstoppable, or so I thought.


It didn’t take Death to stop me, though; it only took one awful day when I started losing my motor functions. I couldn’t write, then I couldn’t walk. I could neither eat nor bathe on my own. One by one, I lost them all … It was terrifying!

We call it Guillain Barre Syndrome, a rare disease in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nerves, causing various degrees of weakness. I knew what it was, but at that moment I wasn’t a doctor or a superhuman. I was an ordinary patient and, like everyone else, I was bound to my steel-and-leather wheelchair like a female Franklin D. Roosevelt.


People didn’t need my help anymore; I needed theirs. In those darkest moments, I saw a different breed of superhumans—no capes, no spandex costumes, no dark masks. They were equipped only with their sincerest smiles and caring hands—sparing a few hours to show their support, bringing gifts to cheer me up, and offering their warmest embrace when I cried.

I learned three things from them and from what I have gone through this past few months:

  • It is important to be surrounded by people who keep you whole when you are all broken inside and out. Some take it for granted, but a strong support system really goes a long way. I realized that every visitor I had seemed to have brought an imaginary glue stick with them, helping me piece myself together.
  • Sometimes, it’s okay to need something from someone. When your hospital bill skyrockets or your faith is shaken by your current condition, it’s time to tell yourself: You can’t do it on your own. So you welcome any form of help—financial, spiritual, psychological—with a thankful heart.
  • It was only when the illness destroyed a part of me that I understood myself more. My strength was never measured by the weights I lifted or the number of laps I completed, but I was strong because in my brokenness, I fixed myself. In the process, I found out that I am not the only superhero in my story but that I had a team to be thankful for, and they helped me fight my demons and rise from my lowest.

Now I walk with a cane. I can eat and bathe without help. Soon I’ll be walking on my own, then I can go back to my residency training. I am happy. Better. I have survived Guillain Barre Syndrome, and a new chapter in my superhero story waits.

Dr. Jerrymae R. Blasurca, 27, is with the West Visayas State University Medical Center in Iloilo City.

Subscribe to Inquirer Opinion Newsletter
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: determination, Guillain Barre Syndrome, love, support
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.