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Woman, 21, Wakes Up With Sore Neck And Hours Later Is Paralysed

Woman, 21, Wakes Up With Sore Neck And Hours Later Is Paralysed

A young woman's life was changed forever when a rare medical condition left her paralysed.

Helen Fincham, from Wales, was just 21 when she woke up with a pain in her neck which she thought was just the result of an awkward night's sleep.

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Just a few hours later she was laying on her bed suffering from a tight chest. Panicking about what could be wrong, she called 999 and paramedics rushed to see her.

By the time they arrived at her home, however, she couldn't even walk and the next day she was taken to hospital in Swansea, where was diagnosed with a rare condition called transverse myelitis.

Helen, now 24, said: "They went to help me up and I just fell through their arms and I was looking up at them confused as to why I wasn't stood up.

Helen was just 21 when she was diagnosed with a rare condition which would change her life. Credit: Reach PLC
Helen was just 21 when she was diagnosed with a rare condition which would change her life. Credit: Reach PLC

"The next day I was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, and they were doing that thing to test your reflexes, where your leg is supposed to shoot up after your knee is tapped.

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"My leg wasn't doing that. I was crying, I couldn't even wipe my own tears."

Around 300 people are diagnosed with transverse myelitis each year in the UK. There is currently no cure.

Helen spent the next six months in hospital and another 12 months in rehab. And while she has regained some movement and strength in her arms, she now lives in a specially designed ground floor flat and needs constant support.

She spent six months in hospital and 12 months receiving rehab. Credit: Reach PLC
She spent six months in hospital and 12 months receiving rehab. Credit: Reach PLC

"I can move my arms enough to feed myself but I can't cut up food or prepare anything like that. I need full on care. I can't do much independently," Helen says.

Helen receives professional care seven hours a day - two of those are taken up by getting ready in the morning and one for her night time routine.

This means she has just four hours of care in the day to do things she wants to.

Helen says: "Last year, when it was really hot, I couldn't even get outside by myself to sit out in the sunshine. I was just stuck inside waiting for my carers to come.

"I rely on people to wash me, dress me, move me, get me out of the car.

Now 24, she needs professional care every day. Credit: Reach PLC
Now 24, she needs professional care every day. Credit: Reach PLC

"I am so appreciative of the care I receive, but I just want to be able to do things for myself like any other 24-year-old. I love getting out of the house, I have been imprisoned long enough."

Helen says she is now focused on being more independent, but with the NHS providing just 15 minutes of physio a week, it's extremely hard.

"I feel guilty for asking for support, but it is not a broken leg that I can fix in six weeks," she says.

"I need physio to help me get stronger, and hopefully once I am more able, I can get stronger naturally."

Her friend Simon Green is doing a series of events to raise money to help pay for specialist treatment.

So far he's raised over £3,500 ($4,200) to help Helen get intensive physio. You can donate to the Just Giving page here.

Featured Image Credit: Reach PLC

Topics: Science, Interesting, Wales, Health

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]

 

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