She Woke Up with Neck Ache and Was Left Paralazed a Few Hours Later
By now, the words Transverse Myelitis (TM) have very different meanings than before. Helen Fincham first read these words when studying her own case study. When this rare disease embarked on Helen, 21, from Bridgend Wales, she assumed her discomfort in her neck was from sleeping in a funky/awkward position (something most of the population experiences on a nightly basis) and certainly not from Transverse Myelitis (TM) (which turned out to be the culprit) – a disease so strong it had damaged her nerve fibers.
After reading up on Helen’s tragic tale of neck ache turned to Transverse Myelitis (TM), I wondered: Could Helen’s escapade happen to anyone?
The truth is it did. Helen assumed her neck discomfort was from sleeping wrong, not de-stressing correctly, etc. She worked at a Physical Therapy clinic her whole life, was a strong athlete in softball track and tennis for the majority of her childhood and one day woke up with her feet and legs completely numb. She instantly asked her mother to take her to hospital and the doctors were confused by the fact that a rather athletic woman in her early 20’s could no longer walk and, furthermore, lost feelings in the majority of her body. This, to Helen, was terrifying. As an athlete at such a young age, the words Transverse Myelitis were alien to her…until they crept in and disrupted the every day functions of Helen’s life.
Helen thought perhaps she had contracted a virus — a spider bite gone unnoticed — something! But the only diagnosis after MRI scams, chest scams, blood tests, etc. revealed that Helen did in fact have Transverse Myelitis (TM). This disease damages ones nerve fibers and is incredibly rare – so the amount of questions you and your loved ones have for doctors constantly go un-answered.
Helen had not regained her ability to walk but she can actually feel sensation when touched. She continues to go to physical therapy 5 times a week and her next goal is to be able to dress/undress herself, get in and out of bed by herself, etc. With these goals, accomplishing them, gives Helen a taste of going home. Something she longs more than anything.
The good news is there are things you can to do be proactive:
Ask your doctor about Transverse Myelitis
If you wake up with a neck ache that seems odd alert someone
If you wake up with a neck ache that prolongs and turns into paralyzation 2-3 hours later, alert a medical professional IMMEDIATELY
This is what could have helped Helen in her specific case.. Being aware of Transverse Myelitis (it’s causes, dangers, pain points, symptoms, etc.) it may be able to help young women around the world proactively treat the side effects of this awful, sneaky disease. There is help out there if you feel these things coming on. You are not alone.