A mother-of-one who woke up paralyzed from the waist down after thinking she only had a stomach ache is now learning how to walk again.
Emese Illes-Toth from Hemel Hempstead woke up one Monday morning with severe stomach pains.
After days of being bed-bound, an MRI scan showed that the usually active and healthy mother had transverse myelitis, an extremely rare condition that caused inflammation on her spine.
Emese hasn’t been able to return home since October 2019 and still cries a lot over being away from her son.
“There was no accident, no warning beforehand. There was inflammation so it’s not something I’ve done to myself from an accident or something,” she expressed. “I hadn’t even been ill. I’m a fairly healthy person, to be honest, which is why it was a shock to the system.
“The first couple of weeks I cried a lot. It was mainly because I was always very active and very independent. My legs giving up on me like that was devastating.
“I have less bad days than I used to have. Everything just shrank in relevance compared to this. My bad days are mainly because I’m away from my family now, it’s not even the condition.”
Emese continued: Sometimes I do cry because of the condition, but it’s mainly because I miss everyone and want to go home.
“I hadn’t heard about it before either, and I actually graduated from high school as a nurse. I had never heard of this condition myself.
“It’s a very, very rare condition. I am ‘one-in-million’ as it affects one to two people out of a million. It’s really rare. Strange things always happen to me, so there you go.
“With hindsight, I did have skin sensitivity around my navel, but you don’t really think about it. You have some sensitivity on your skin and then it goes away.
“Then I just woke up with a really strong stomach ache. When I turned onto my stomach it went onto my back. It was really bad around my mid-section and that’s where the pain was.
“The skin sensitivity intensified as well. I had to sit up straight while driving as I couldn’t lean back because it was too painful when [the seat] touched my skin.
“When my right knee started to act up, it wasn’t supporting my weight properly and I was limping. I still went to work, drove to work and drove my son to school, but I started to be sick as well.
“I called the GP and went to see him and he said this wasn’t gastric. My right leg wasn’t behaving. I couldn’t control it completely from my knee.
“By that time the pain went into my abdomen and I had some numbness in my thigh. He thought I had dislocated my spine and was very worried. He sent me to A&E immediately.
“My son’s father took me to A&E and I walked in, and I haven’t been home since.”
The mother-of-one is now learning how to walk again after she has been treated with steroids.
“They say a positive mindset and determination are 90 percent of getting better. I’m generally a positive person and I have accepted it.
“My leg just stays [in hyperextension] and it’s extremely difficult for me to bend it. That’s what [the equipment] helps.
“It also helps with the weak hamstrings so you can actually lift your leg up better and more easily. It helps you to go up and down the stairs.
“I’m hoping it will only take me another six months to get rid of this final thing, and then I’m back to normal.”
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