A young aspiring singer is learning to walk again after being left paralysed when she mistook a rare life-threatening illness for a home workout injury.
Nikita Holly Munt, 29, was unknowingly battling Guillain-Barré syndrome, known as GBS – a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system.
About six months ago, Ms Munt, from Essex in the UK, was complaining of sore feet for days before she lost her balance and became disoriented.
“I thought my feet were sore from working out on a hard floor without shoes,” she recalled.
“After a few days, they were getting worse and worse but I continued to go about my business.”
She initially thought her feet ached from her barefoot workouts but as the pain worsened, she sought medical help at the behest of her sister.
She had continued to downplay her symptoms “until I had a bath and cold water was burning my feet and hands,” she said.
In August 2020 Ms Munt attended hospital after struggling to walk, comparing the feeling to being drunk as she was routinely stumbling.
It took a further four days before she got a diagnosis despite her health rapidly deteriorating in that time – including symptoms which saw her legs, arms and face become paralysed.
“Those four days were the worst days of my life,” she said. “It felt like electric bolts shooting through my body, the most pain I have felt in my life.
“My brain was fine but my body wasn’t ... At this point, I couldn’t even speak or move my face properly.
“I had difficulties swallowing as the nerves that controlled the muscles for swallowing were becoming paralysed and this is the same for the breathing, this was due to the paralysis spreading to the muscles that controlled my breathing.”
The 29-year-old spent five weeks in hospital and eventually had to learn how to re-walk and talk.
Now, four months on, Ms Munt is back on her feet but still requires a walking aid.
“It has been a crazy journey,” she said. “I never thought it would be Guillain-Barré Syndrome, I didn’t think something like that would happen to me.
“I made a friend called Barry, 80, in rehab. He needed a walking frame and he was in better shape than I was!”
While she is still dealing with nerve issues and isn’t back to full health, the rare health ordeal has at least given her some unique perspective.
“Throughout everything, I realised the only thing I can control is my mindset so I had to stay positive,” she said.
“I worry less about stupid things now and will never take simple things such as getting dressed and cooking for granted ever again.”
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