A six-year-old girl was almost left paralysed when she contracted a rare disease after suffering complications from CHICKENPOX.
Little Ruby Hancock was told she might never walk again after she was struck down by the debilitating condition as a result of catching the common childhood illness.
The youngster was rushed to hospital when she fell unconscious in her grandmother’s arms after being sent home from school one day as she was unable to walk.
She was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEMS) – an autoimmune disease which causes swelling on the brain and spine.
Doctors told her devastated family the rare condition – which effects 1 in 250,000 people – could lead to Ruby being paralysed for life.
But the battling schoolgirl is now back on her feet after spending three weeks in hospital being treated with antibiotics and steroids.
She is still recovering at her home in Skegness, Lincs., and requires regular hospital visits and round-the-clock care.
Ruby said: “When it happened I felt a bit upset but I was trying to be a brave girl, I feel good and happy now.”
Mum Laura Jackson, 27, said: “It was every parent’s worst nightmare.
“She had chicken pox for a couple of weeks, she gave it to her sister but all seemed fine and normal. We thought it was just a rite of passage every child has.
“But after that started to become quite poorly.
“She started to throw up clear fluid and bubbles, an ambulance crew was then dispatched.
“When they saw her throwing up bubbles and they said ‘that is not normal’ so they took her to hospital.
“It turned out to be a water infection and she was put on antibiotics, but after three or four days they weren’t working and the doctors thought that the chicken pox may have triggered ADEMS Disease which is swelling on the brain, the spine and behind the eyes.
“At one point she was sent home from school because she couldn’t walk, we rushed her to hospital but she fell unconscious in her grandmothers arms before she got there.
“When the doctor said it was ADEMS I just burst into tears – everything was going through my mind. Your heart just breaks completely.
“You just don’t know what to think, what to say or what to do or how to process that sort of news.
“Basically the condition stopped her from walking and she is nowhere near out of the woods yet and it’s been going on since February.
“The condition is not curable but it can be treatable.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, we were all upset and worried there were no words to describe it.”
Ruby spent two weeks on a neurology ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital until she was well enough to start walking again.
She has since had to attend a string of appointments at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincs.
Despite her illness, brave Ruby will be going back to Skegness Beacon Primary School to start in Year 2 after spending the last three months in and out of hospital.
Laura, a night care assistant, added: “I’m really happy she’ll be going back to school. Her favourite subjects are English, Art, Maths and PE
“She looks a normal child but her left side is weaker than her right and she needs physiotherapy and has regular swimming to strengthen her up.
“She still has problems with her balance and has trouble getting upstairs and can’t do it without assistance from one of us.
“Ruby can’t do things like go on trampolines because it off again, also if she fall over we usually have to take her back to hospital.
“It is heart breaking that she can’t do these things, we even bought her a bike but she can’t ride around on it.
“Her younger sister, Mia, who is two, can’t really play about with her like before often they used to be quite rough with each other.
“The swelling has lessened but she still has it on the brain and spine.
“With her condition she finds it quite distressing, she has to be put out for her MRI scan and she gets upset when she wakes up and has a needle in her arm.
“With her condition she’s unable to fly so we can’t really go on holiday but the doctors said we could take her to Disney Land near Paris and we are planning on driving there by car.
“It is something that she might have for the rest of her life or something that could just go tomorrow.
“In September I want to raise money for the Encephalitis Society so I’m going to go on the longest and fastest zip-wire in Europe.
“Surgery is an option and she may still face problems in future – but all of us, including the doctors are thinking positive.”
Dad Danny Hancock, 32, a self-employed car valeter, said: “I was an emotional wreck, I was not eating or sleeping, I could not being myself to go to work.
“She was in the children’s hospital in Sheffield which is four hours but then I had to come home and help out, it was the only way.
“But we both have to think positive, we are just trying to make people more aware – you see on Facebook mums having chicken pox parties for their children, maybe if they’ve been through what we’ve been through maybe they would think twice.
“We never thought this could happen.”
* Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a rare inflammatory condition which affects the brain and spinal cord.
It often follows on from a minor infection such as a cold and is a result of the immune system becoming mis-programmed and activating immune cells to attack the healthy myelin covering the nerves.
Symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, headache irritability and sleepiness, unsteadiness or inability to walk, problems with vision, weakness or tingling in certain areas of the body.