A 21-year-old was left fighting for her life after a sore throat she thought was just tonsillitis developed into a deadly disorder – leaving her unable to walk or talk.
Emily McDonald visited her doctor feeling rundown in February last year; however, a month later the right side of her face had dropped and she was in hospital unable to move.
After initially being diagnosed with tonsillitis, pub landlady Emily took a turn for the worse and was told she had glandular fever and told to get plenty of bed rest.
However, after experiencing ‘unusually painful’ pins and needles in her hands and feet, Emily went back to see doctors on March 6.
Doctors told her there was nothing wrong – but just three days later Emily had to be rushed to Doncaster Hospital by her parents in the middle of the night after her symptoms worsened and she could not move her body and the right side of her face dropped.
She said: “I felt really unwell and run down due to the glandular fever, but then one night I had really painful pins and needles that I knew something wrong.
“I felt weird and numb before I went to bed on my right side, but I just put it down to my body feeling so run down with the Glandular Fever.
“It was only when I needed a wee in the middle of the night and my body literally would not move that I started to panic.
“I shouted my mum and dad who rushed to my room and saw the right side of my face had dropped and they immediately took me back to the hospital.”
Once at the hospital, Emily and her family had to endure agonising ten-hour wait in A&E on a stretcher as doctors carried out more routine tests.
Despite Emily being unable to walk and struggling to talk due to her mouth dropping, she was told she would not need to be hospitalised.
Fortunately for Emily, her mother pushed back and insisted that she was seen by a specialist neurological doctor and she was transferred Sheffield Hospital, South Yorks, in an ambulance.
Here, Emily was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system.
Within two days Emily’s lung had deflated and she couldn’t breathe on her own, needing to be on a life support machine in ICU.
Emily said: “I was so scared, I couldn’t really hear what was happening and my vision was blurry.
“I was being fed and given water through tubes and had a catheter fitted, I remember my mum holding my hand and I knew by the look on her face she thought I was going to die.”
After eight weeks in ICU on ten different medicines, Emily’s immune system started to fight against the deadly disorder and she is hoping to make a full recovery.
Emily spent a total of eight months in the hospital, even spending her 21st birthday on May 26 on the ward, where her family and friends came and threw her a Harry Potter-themed party.
Emily was discharged from hospital on September 19 in a wheelchair.
With sheer determination and help from her friends and family Emily is now able to walk short distances unaided – something she thought she would never be able to do.
She said: “I was determined not to be in the wheelchair for long and we had a family holiday booked for December and I was desperate to be on my feet by then.
“I saw a physio every day and spoke to other GBS suffers online and hearing about their journeys really inspired me.
“Just knowing that you are not suffering alone really helps and now I’m back on my feet hopefully I can inspire others.”
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