Swimwear model in wheelchair 'for life' after waking up paralysed

·3-min read

A swimwear model who woke from a nap paralysed is determined to walk again – despite doctors warning she may be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Sonia Vera, 40, was rushed to hospital overcome with the paralysis and doctors later found she had a rare neurological autoimmune disease which has no cure.

She spent a gruelling six months in hospital but doctors believe she'll never be able to walk again.

Speaking about the life-altering ordeal this week from her home in southwest London, Ms Vera lamented the things in her life that were suddenly ripped away.

“I miss being able to walk, model, design my swimwear for my company, travel, dance and be a wife to my husband.”

The model is determined to find her feet again. Source: Caters
The model is determined to find her feet again. Source: Caters

"When I walk again, and I know I will, I want to return to modelling and start my swimwear brand again,” she said.

Three years ago, she woke up one morning “feeling off” and was later taken to hospital. She was eventually sent home and had a nap. That’s when she woke up five hours later unable to move properly.

She was panicked but didn’t expect it to last.

"I tried not to panic when I woke up paralysed, I was just in shock and thought that the doctors would be able to fix what was wrong with me as soon as I got to hospital,” Ms Vera said.

"It took 24 hours at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital to convince doctors that I was in fact paralysed and was eventually moved to Charing Cross for an MRI where I was pronounced paralysed from the neck down."

She stayed in hospital for six months thereafter.

Sonia is raising money for rehabilitation. Source: GoFundMe
Sonia is raising money for rehabilitation. Source: GoFundMe

"When I initially had my MRI at the hospital, the diagnosis was that I had an inflammation at the spinal cord.

"I was placed on a high dosage of steroids and they ran every possible test but they all came back negative meaning they never found out what caused this.”

Ms Vera, who is originally from Los Angeles, had to end her swimwear business as a result of the diagnosis. She is now hoping to raise the equivalent of AUD$116,000 for special rehabilitation in the US, which would enable her to walk again.

Wheelchair-bound for now, but hopefully not forever.

"I was released from hospital in October 2017 and was completely unrecognisable to myself in a wheelchair. They kept telling me at the hospital that I needed to live and accept my life in a wheelchair," she said.

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"My life isn’t easy but it certainly is a journey, a long journey, of new experiences and gratitude for being alive.”

There are no modern rehabilitation centres in London for those with paralysis like hers, she says.

By setting up a GoFundMe page to raise money to walk again, the 40-year-old want to bring awareness and show other people like her that there is a cure out there after being struck down by the most unlikely of ailments.


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