A woman was struck down by a rare illness which left her paralysed – after she dismissed the symptoms as a COLD.
Danielle McGuinness, 29, was rushed to hospital when she began to lose the feeling in her hands and legs hours before she was due to jet off on a dream holiday.
Danielle, from Glasgow, had spent months planning a four-week holiday to Cambodia and Vietnam, where she was going to volunteer to teach English.
She had been suffering from a bad cough and sickness in the weeks leading up to the holiday but had put it down to having a cold.
But the day before she was due to leave, on January 8, Danielle started to feel numbness in her limbs and went to her GP.
Danielle, a train manager, said her doctor told her the symptoms were anxiety stemming from her upcoming trip.
Unconvinced by the diagnosis, Danielle, who now lives in Bournemouth, quickly began to deteriorate, forcing her terrified mum, Jessie, to call an ambulance.
In hospital, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome – a rare and serious condition which affects the nerves.
She was placed into an induced coma as the condition attacked her lungs
When a terrified Danielle woke up in intensive care, she was paralysed from the head down and unable to speak.
Danielle said: “I had some cold symptoms through Christmas and New Year.
“I had a really bad cough and I was throwing up but I was thinking ‘just keep going to work because you’re off for a month’.
“You never think these things are as serious as they are.”
She spent 11 weeks in the Royal Bournemouth Hospital undergoing gruelling physiotherapy.
Danielle said: “That was the lowest point. I was lying in a bed for 11 weeks so my muscles wasted away.
“I had to learn how to do everything again, how to brush my hair, how to sit up – like a baby.”
Danielle looked to be on the mend but, a relapse followed by a gallbladder condition, saw her back in hospital last month.
She said: “It’s the hardest journey I’ve ever been through and it’s driving me mad being at home every day, not being able to do something and always wondering if it’s coming back.
“I want to know what caused this, why this happened to me, why I’m the one in 50,000 but, I don’t know if I ever will.”
It’s almost impossible to detect what causes the condition, although doctors suspect Danielle may have been battling a virus over Christmas which spiralled out of control.
She has learned to walk unaided and can manage almost all of her care on her own, but the constant fatigue and relapses may stay with her forever.
Danielle remains positive and plans to write a book about her experience to help other people with the condition as well as completing her travel to Asia.
She said: “It’s definitely not put me off travelling, I see it as a journey I have to complete.
“I’m a pretty positive person, although this has tested me, but if I can help someone else see there’s another side to this condition, it’ll be worth it.”
Danielle and mum Jessie Campbell, 54, moved to Bournemouth about seven years ago.
Danielle said she was left staggering when she was struck down by the illness.
She said: “In the weeks leading up to the trip I had cold symptoms.
“But this time I had numb feet and hands and I had lost the power to walk.
“I staggered when I was going to have a shower.
“I suffer from anxiety anyway, so I went to the GP in Bournemouth and they said it was anxiety for my trip.
“I knew it wasn’t anxiety and I don’t know the reason why they thought that.
“I wanted to go home and sleep it off. I just wanted to go to Cambodia.
“But during that night it got worse and I felt numb up to my waist.
“My mum phoned 111 and they advised her to call an ambulance because this wasn’t normal.
“I got to the hospital and got a few tests done and they knew what the condition was.
“The doctors kept monitoring my breathing to make sure the condition wouldn’t attack my lungs, which it didn’t for a few days.
“But the doctors at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital were absolutely amazing, they saved my life.
“I can walk unaided now but only for a short distance, I’m on the mend.”