Hayden Tetley – University and GBS

In July 2017 I fell ill whilst studying at the University of Nottingham. Initially starting with severe back pain for which I was provided painkillers by the doctors I then spent a few days with heavy flu like symptoms and was advised by 111 to go to hospital after I started experiencing numbness in my lower back. At this point I realised I was unable to walk and simply fell over when trying to stand, something I put down to dehydration and lack of food having not kept anything down for days. When I was admitted to hospital I was rehydrated by a drip and initially seemed to improve but this was short lived as I still could not walk unaided and developed weaknesses in my arms and chest as well as spreading of the initial numbness.

Initially general blood tests were done rather slowly until during my second night in hospital I began to lose control of my facial muscles making it hard to speak and eat and given that this was affecting one side worse than the other there were concerns that I had experienced a stroke. At this point tests such as MRI’s happened at a much faster rate and I was moved to a neurology ward where I was seen by specialists. Following the visit of a leading neurologist, a lumbar puncture was undertaken and I was diagnosed with GBS having been in hospital for 4 days. One day later I started a 5 day IVIG treatment whilst continuing to be monitored round the clock.

Once the treatment started I was lucky enough to experience a very fast recovery, so much so that I was discharged from hospital just 3 days after my treatment ended and with the help of physiotherapists and occupational therapists was told I could continue my recovery at home. It took me a further couple of weeks to regain much of my balance but within a month I had started jogging very short distances. I had been very fit at the time of the illness, playing squash 5 or 6 times a week, and had decided I wanted to raise money for GAIN by completing the Robin Hood half marathon which would take place exactly 2 months after the day I was diagnosed. Thanks to the amazing help of everyone who treated me, my family and my fortune in being diagnosed so quickly I was able to complete the half marathon running most of it and finishing in under 2.5 hours. Most importantly I raised £750 for the charity, something I am very proud of.

With support from my university I was able to split my final year of degree to combat the effects of fatigue and in July 2019 I was delighted to graduate with a first. Unfortunately in spite of all the support that I received from so many different people as well as my fortune in severity of the illness, especially having not been ventilated, I still experienced difficulties and was told I had chronic fatigue syndrome 6 months after my illness.

2 years on from my illness I am slowly returning to the level of exercise I undertook before and am looking forward to starting a new job in September 2019. From my experiences I have learnt a great deal about the recovery process and given that I know how hard the recovery can be even with incredible levels of support and help I am eager to add my support and knowledge to others in a similar or less fortunate situation than myself so as to help them as best I can.


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