Lifestyle

I thought my daughter was joking when she said she couldn’t feel her legs

A mum thought her daughter was joking when she said she couldn’t feel her legs – but the reality was startling.

Debbie Picken, from Bath, has described the horrific events in May 2017 when her four-year-old daughter Clover fell ill with a mysterious virus.

Clover initially appeared to have the flu, but doctors eventually determined it was something much more serious

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Clover initially appeared to have the flu, but doctors eventually determined it was something much more seriousCredit: BPM

At first it seemed like she had the flu.

However, just a week after her symptoms began, she began to lose feeling in her legs and feet.

Debbie took her to the hospital, where Clover was eventually diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Many sleepless nights followed, a lengthy hospital stay and months of physical therapy to get the little one back on his feet.

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Now, five years later, Debbie looked back on that awful summer.

“In May 2017, she had flu-like symptoms for about a week and then felt no better. A few days later I had the doctor examine her outside of office hours at the hospital as it was a holiday and there was a confirmed case of scarlet fever in her kindergarten and she had developed a small rash on her chin.

“The doctor said it was a virus but not scarlet fever, so we went home with instructions to give her Calpol.

“The same day, but in the evening, I took her back to the hospital when she suddenly developed a cough that did not even allow her to breathe.

“Her vitals were checked and I was told to just let the cough run its course, so I took her home at 2am when he finally stopped,” Debbie explained.

Over the next few days, she expected Clover to recover.

However, she continued to suffer from fatigue and spent most of her time asleep on the floor, with short periods of play in between.

When the four-year-old was no better after a week, Debbie noticed that Clover fell and had a limp more often, so she took her back to the GP.

From there they went to the pediatric examination unit at the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) of Bath.

While there, she was diagnosed with an ear infection, which was thought to be causing Clover’s dizziness.

“There was nothing noticeably wrong with her at that point to indicate a serious illness,” Debbie explained.

“It was only when we got home and she wasn’t in the stroller or car seat that she had to walk again and she told me she couldn’t. She was always laying on the floor pretending to be a mermaid when she said she couldn’t move her legs I thought she was fooling around.”

What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

The NHS describes Guillain-Barré Syndrome as “a very rare and serious condition” that affects the nerves.

It mainly affects the feet, hands, and limbs, causing problems like numbness, weakness, and pain.

While most people eventually make a full recovery, it can be life-threatening and some people have long-term problems.

It affects people of all ages but is most common in adults and men.

The first symptoms are:

  • deafness
  • needles and pins
  • muscle weakness
  • Pains
  • Problems with balance and coordination

These symptoms may continue to worsen over the next few days or weeks before slowly improving.

People are advised to contact their GP if they notice any of these early symptoms.

You are advised to call 999 or go to the nearest emergency room if:

  • has difficulty breathing, swallowing, or speaking
  • cannot move her limbs or face

This is a medical emergency and the person needs to be hospitalized as soon as possible.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system, the body’s natural defenses against disease and infection.

Normally, the immune system attacks any germs that enter the body. But something goes wrong in people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and it mistakenly attacks and damages nerves.

But when Clover said she couldn’t even go to the bathroom, Debbie realized she wasn’t pretending anymore.

She immediately called the hospital and asked for advice.

“In the back of my mind I was thinking of an illness a friend had a few years ago, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes paralysis and is usually triggered by a virus. The doctor I spoke to said Guillain-Barré was unlikely and as she had already gone to bed and still had some movement in her legs she would be fine at home for the night then I could see her in the morning update,” Debbie said.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves. It is believed to be caused by a problem with the immune system, the body’s natural defense against disease and infection.

Normally, the immune system attacks any germs that enter the body. But something goes wrong in people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and it mistakenly attacks and damages nerves.

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The next day, Clover was returned to the hospital for tests. Her mother explained: “They initially thought it was a brain tumor or meningitis, but after ruling out those possibilities they turned to Guillain-Barré.

“Because it’s neurological it’s hard to test and they diagnose it by ruling out everything else.”

Debbie Picken thought Clover was just

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Debbie Picken thought Clover was just “joking around” when she said she couldn’t feel her legsCredit: BPM

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