Woman thought she had neck ache from sleeping funny, but then she was paralysed

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Woman thought she had neck ache from sleeping funny, but then she was paralysed

Helen Fincham thought she had neck ache from sleeping funny (Picture: Caters)

A woman who thought her sore neck was because she had slept funny was left paralysed just hours later.

Helen Fincham, from Bridgend, Wales, said she thought she was having a heart attack when, by midday on the day it all happened, she could no longer feel her legs.

Paramedics asked the 21-year-old to stand up but she collapsed and has been paralysed from the neck down ever since.

She was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis – an extremely rare neurological condition whereby the spinal cord becomes inflamed and damages nerve fibres.

Helen is now undergoing physio daily and despite not knowing what the future holds she remains positive and is determined to walk again.

She is also raising awareness about the condition and is warning others to live life to the fullest.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Helen in hospital with her niece Cadie-Jayne.) - A stunning woman who woke up with neck ache was left PARALYSED just hours later. Helen Fincham, from Bridgend, Wales, woke up on August 24 with a sore neck and first thought shed slept in a funny position but by midday she could no longer feel her legs. The 21-year-old thought she was having a heart attack when her arm went numb and she became short of breath. But when paramedics arrived and asked Helen to stand she collapsed leaving everyone baffled and she has been paralysed from the neck down ever since. After two months of tests Helen was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis an extremely rare neurological condition whereby the spinal cord becomes inflamed and damages nerve fibres. Helen is now undergoing physio daily and despite not knowing what the future holds she remains positive and is determined to walk again. SEE CATERS COPY.

Pictured with her niece, Cadie-Jayne, she collapsed when paramedics tried to pick her up (Picture: Caters)

Helen, a store manager said: ‘When I realised I could no longer feel my legs I was horrified.

‘It was like I had become paralysed overnight, my whole life had been turned upside down in a matter of hours.

‘I woke up and it was like any other day, I went downstairs and had something to eat with my parents.

‘But as I bent down to pick up the washing I realised my neck was a bit sore but just presumed I’d slept funny and didn’t think anything of it.

‘Minutes after I got back into bed though I became short of breath and realised my arm was numb.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Helen while she was in hospital.) - A stunning woman who woke up with neck ache was left PARALYSED just hours later. Helen Fincham, from Bridgend, Wales, woke up on August 24 with a sore neck and first thought shed slept in a funny position but by midday she could no longer feel her legs. The 21-year-old thought she was having a heart attack when her arm went numb and she became short of breath. But when paramedics arrived and asked Helen to stand she collapsed leaving everyone baffled and she has been paralysed from the neck down ever since. After two months of tests Helen was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis an extremely rare neurological condition whereby the spinal cord becomes inflamed and damages nerve fibres. Helen is now undergoing physio daily and despite not knowing what the future holds she remains positive and is determined to walk again. SEE CATERS COPY.

She can no longer feel anything form her legs down (Picture: Caters)

‘I thought I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die, my parents rushed home and called 999.

‘I collapsed when paramedics asked me to stand up and I’ve been paralysed ever since.

‘It still feels like I’m dreaming some days and that none of this is real, just two weeks before I’d been on holiday to Ibiza with friends having the time of my life.’

After being taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, doctors were left dumbfounded that Helen could no longer walk or feel anything from the neck down.

Helen was faced with an agonising wait for two months as MRI scans, chest scans, a lumbar puncture and blood tests all came back normal.

She was finally diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in rehab after a spine scan showed her spinal cord was inflamed.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Helen while she was in hospital.) - A stunning woman who woke up with neck ache was left PARALYSED just hours later. Helen Fincham, from Bridgend, Wales, woke up on August 24 with a sore neck and first thought shed slept in a funny position but by midday she could no longer feel her legs. The 21-year-old thought she was having a heart attack when her arm went numb and she became short of breath. But when paramedics arrived and asked Helen to stand she collapsed leaving everyone baffled and she has been paralysed from the neck down ever since. After two months of tests Helen was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis an extremely rare neurological condition whereby the spinal cord becomes inflamed and damages nerve fibres. Helen is now undergoing physio daily and despite not knowing what the future holds she remains positive and is determined to walk again. SEE CATERS COPY.

Despite not knowing what the future may hold, she remains positive (Picture: Caters)

Helen said: ‘I was so overwhelmed I just kept screaming and crying, no-one could give me answers.

‘What made things worse was when I first got to A&E, none of the medics believed me they just kept telling me to stand, even when I was crying my eyes out screaming at them I couldn’t.

‘I think doctors need to be more open minded and careful about how the treat patients with neurological and paralysis symptoms, it really was traumatic.

‘I had so many tests including a plasma exchange and the nurse told me to squeeze her hand when they put the anaesthetic needle in my neck.

‘But I couldn’t feel my hands so I couldn’t use them which made me so upset, I couldn’t even feel anything when they did a lumbar puncture.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Helens niece Cadie-Jayne pushes Helen in her wheelchair.) - A stunning woman who woke up with neck ache was left PARALYSED just hours later. Helen Fincham, from Bridgend, Wales, woke up on August 24 with a sore neck and first thought shed slept in a funny position but by midday she could no longer feel her legs. The 21-year-old thought she was having a heart attack when her arm went numb and she became short of breath. But when paramedics arrived and asked Helen to stand she collapsed leaving everyone baffled and she has been paralysed from the neck down ever since. After two months of tests Helen was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis an extremely rare neurological condition whereby the spinal cord becomes inflamed and damages nerve fibres. Helen is now undergoing physio daily and despite not knowing what the future holds she remains positive and is determined to walk again. SEE CATERS COPY.

She was diagnosed with transvers myelitis (Picture: Caters)

‘The condition is so rare that I still have so many unanswered questions like why and how but no-one can answer them, I just don’t know what to think.

‘In the beginning I thought maybe I’d been bitten on holiday or I’d contracted some kind of virus but I was never poorly and there were no signs of anything else.

‘It’s just a complete mystery and I don’t know if it will ever be solved.

‘I want to thank all the staff there though that helped in the early days, they went above and beyond, despite having no answers they made those first few weeks of limbo so much easier.’

Three months after becoming paralysed, Helen can now feel some sensation when touched and had limited movement in her hands.

She adds: ‘I now have physio and hydrotherapy every week and my next goal is to be able to get in and out of bed by myself and then there’s a chance I’ll be able to go home.

‘It’s just taking a long time because I’ve become so weak because I can’t move.

‘Some days are really difficult but I keep going and try to stay strong for my family and friends who have been incredibly supportive.

‘They’ve all done so much for me, especially my family who do everything from shaving my legs to painting my nails.

‘People take the easiest tasks for granted and I hope one day I can do simple things like tie my own hair up, do my makeup, and brush my own teeth.’

Helen’s sister, Jessica Fincham, 26, a hairdresser, has started fundraising for Helen to help her parents get the necessary adaptations to their home.

Jessica said: ‘Our whole family has been absolutely devastated since that Wednesday morning.

‘Helen has always been healthy and she works so hard, we have no idea why this has happened to her.

‘She was just like any other 21-year-old having the time of her life before all of this.

‘We are all now trying to work towards getting Helen home by May and for this my parents’ house will need to be specially adapted.

‘Helen is such a determined person, I know that if anyone can come back from this she can.

‘We will never give up hope and I will continue to be there for my baby sister every step of the way.’

In just over a week Jessica’s £1,000 target has been smashed and the family have been over the moon with the response.

Helen said: ‘I can’t thank everyone enough for their kind donations, no-one knows how much it means to me.

‘I’m just so grateful that I’m still alive, I do have down days but I’m learning to cope with everything.

‘I used to think I was in the worst situation possible but now I’ve realised that I’m still healthy and my things could be much worse.

‘I just hope that one day I will have more answers, it’s the unknown that scares me the most.

‘But I will continue to fight this.’

Lew Gray, Co-Founder of Transverse Myelitis Society, which has over 2000 members said: ‘Transverse Myelitis is an inflammation of the spinal cord.

‘TM is assumed to be autoimmune ie caused by the body’s own immune system ‘mistakenly’ attacking the nerve tissue in the spinal cord.

‘The onset can be gradual but is usually pretty sudden sometimes immediate. Some cases of TM have a preceding infection but the cause is usually unknown.

‘The symptoms of TM depend on which particular areas of the spinal cord are damaged.

‘Most people get some recovery over weeks and months following TM as the spinal cord nerves rebuild themselves.

‘Rehabilitation especially physiotherapy is important for recovery but is often hard to access over long term in NHS.

‘Some people can recover fully, but most people have some long-lasting symptoms which may be invisible.’