DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

I should be in a wheelchair

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Michaella Smith

It's just carpal tunnel.....I work too hard

Last August (2015) I started to get numb tingly fingertips. I quickly dismissed it as it spread down my hand over the weeks. I worked like a dog building up an intense domestic cleaning round to provide for my two teenage sons as I'd split with my partner of 16yrs the previous year... Behind furniture, on top of conservatorys, underneath the boiler even lofts. No corner left unclean all day everyday for 3 years. No time off and in my spare time I'd run, hike, game and read intensely, my arms and legs burning with pain..I just work hard I thought as for my hands, Carpal tunnel that's what it is, I dont have time to deal with that...By the end of 2015 I couldn't feel my hands or feet, they tingled like hot little needles 24/7 I couldn't hold anything, my fingers curled over themselves on their own, my legs felt like cement I couldn't feel my skin from the neck down, bladder problems, seizures...it was time to see a doctor 😣

Brain disorder? Spinal cord injury?

Long story short, my doctor visit led to an urgent neurology referral, that led to an inpatient stay at a specialist unit in London where I was tested and poked and diagnosed with a 4 level spinal cord compression at c4/c7. The cord was squashed flat and bruised the surgeon couldn't believe I was still dragging myself around and if I continued I would be paralysed from the neck down in 6-9 months...I was also diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder my brain is not sending or receiving signals properly. I required urgent surgery to relieve the pressure and was expected to be in the unit for weeks rehabilitating with no guarantees that I would be mobile at all.

Walking outta there

14 hrs after anterior cervical surgery I walked out of that unit on my own feet, I could feel my hands and feet, my fingers were under my own control. My body was mine again... My brain didn't know how to use some of it after so long being half paralysed but it was a miracle that I'd be able to try. And I did. I am not fixed, my spinal column is still trying to crush my cord and some damage is irreversible but I have a few more years on my feet hopefully....although my surgery was in September 2016 I have already started to experience the beginning symptoms again and I have a lot of work to do rewiring my brain with the help of therapists from psychology to occupational therapy and the physio is demanding. Thinking is demanding. I cannot walk far unaided, I cannot do a lot of things unsupervised and I fight psychotic anxiety and bouts of personality changes that are tamed by medication. The physical symptoms from the FND often mimic the spine injury, it's confusing to work out what is what. I'm getting there. Slowly but I'm fighting it. One day I might be me again 😊

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