A mum diagnosed her daughter with cerebral palsy by Googling the symptoms on her lunch break – after bungling medics repeatedly dismissed her concerns.
Little Olivia Haynes was diagnosed with permanent disorder cerebral palsy eight months after her mum raised worries about her coordination, limbs and balance.
She now faces years of gruelling physiotherapy and could be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.
Her mum Emma Haynes, 36, first noticed something was seriously wrong when her daughter was unable to move as a baby and had stiff muscles and limbs.
But despite telling doctors she was convinced her daughter was ill, she was ignored and told she needed to “give her time to develop.”
Emma, a legal secretary from Evesham, Worcs., said: “Olivia would just lie there. All she could do was point her toes.
“It became apparent to me that something was not right. As a parent you know when something is not right.
“Her legs were tight and it was obvious she wasn’t well. Something was not good.
“Her twin sister Grace began sitting up, rolling over and pulling herself up on the furniture when she was about six-months-old but Olivia couldn’t.”
Mum-of-four Emma took Olivia to her local GP, a paediatrician and a health visitor, who all dismissed her fears, saying the child was just slow in her development.
But Emma was convinced her daughter’s condition was more serious after Googling her symptoms on the internet.
She added: “The doctors and health professionals kept saying ‘give her time to develop’ but I raised these concerns three or four times.
“So I Googled her symptoms, which I know you’re not supposed to do, but I worked out that she had cerebral palsy.
“I was at work on my lunch break. I remember I just sat and cried all that afternoon. I was working through tears.
“I cried and cried. I was in mourning for the child I was supposed to have. It is just like a child dying.”
“You have these visions when pregnant with twins that you are going to have two, healthy, happy blonde girls, playing ring-a-ring roses in the garden together but that was not going to happen.
“I went back to my health visitor and said ‘Look, this needs sorting out.”
It took eight months after that before medics at Worcestershire Royal Hospital finally diagnosed Olivia with cerebral palsy in September 2007 when Emma was 15 months old.
Emma said: “I was relieved when they diagnosed her but not surprised.
“But when they told me, I was like ‘Yes, I know she has that. I have told you’.”
Olivia, now eight, has had physiotherapy since her diagnosis but has relied on a wheelchair and walking frame to get about. It is likely she will need a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
In June, Olivia underwent Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, during which surgeons divided the nerves in her spine to release some of the tension in her legs.
Emma added: “She was in the operating theatre for five hours. It was such a nerve-racking time because there was so much that could go wrong.
“She was really brave then got a bit upset just before she went into theatre. I knew I couldn’t cry because I’d make her worse but all my tears came out after she went in.”
The operation went well and Olivia will receive three sessions of physio from the NHS but her family needs to raise £25,000 to able to fund the rest of her rehabilitation.
Emma will attempt to walk a two-mile loop of Evesham 26 times to raise money for her daughter.
She added: “I’m feeling very nervous about it to be honest. I’m not getting much practice in but I’m going to try my best.
“It will be worth it as I’m hoping that, with lots of physio, Olivia will be able to walk independently.
“At the moment she can only do a couple of steps before she falls over.
“This challenge will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically – I don’t remember the last time I walked one mile, let alone 52 – but as any parent will agree, I’ll do anything within my power to improve my kids’ lives.”