Fresher who was paralysed after night out finally able to walk again

She spent five months in hospital

fresher gbs guillan-barre syndrome jmu john moores liverpool national rachael bailey

A 20-year-old couldn’t talk or even blink after a rare disease locked her inside her own body.

Fresher Rachael Bailey thought she was suffering from a really bad hangover, but was rushed to hospital two days later when she couldn’t move her legs.

The Criminology and Psychology student –– who is now “really excited” to restart her studies at John Moores –– was diagnosed with Guillian-Barré Syndrome, a disease which only affects one or two in every 100,000.

Rachael was in hospital for 135 days

Rachael was in hospital for 135 days

Rachael, from Nottingham, told The Tab she felt tingling in her fingers and toes as she was getting ready for a night out, but didn’t think anything of it.

Two days later she was admitted to hospital, where she spent the next five months and had to undergo intensive physiotherapy, which doesn’t finish for another few weeks.

She said: “I had tingling in my fingers and toes but I didn’t think it meant anything.

“At the end of the night by legs felt really heavy but I thought this was down to my shoes and dancing.

“I woke up on Monday morning after going out on the Saturday and I couldn’t move my legs.”

Rachael rang 111 after her mum told her she was being “overdramatic”.

Paramedics quickly diagnosed GBS, which can strike anyone at any time, and told her paralysis would slowly take over her body –– but they couldn’t tell her when it would stop, or when it would begin to recede.

Rachael couldn't move, talk or even blink at her worst

Rachael couldn’t move, talk or even blink at her worst

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, she said: “I had never heard of GBS before. Why would I have done?

“By Wednesday I was struggling to swallow. By Thursday I couldn’t even text.

“Then I started having trouble breathing, so they took me to critical care.”

GBS can be triggered by a virus, and after a few tests Rachael found out she’d had meningitis just a few weeks before.

She said: “Two weeks before I was really unwell at uni. My friends thought it was meningitis, so I went to the emergency doctors but nothing was ever diagnosed and I got better.

“When I was in hospital for this, they ran some tests and found out I had actually had meningitis, which is what might have caused the GBS.”

With her friends

With her friends second from right

But even then, brave Rachael wasn’t scared, naively thinking she’d be back at uni in time for Halloween.

She told The Tab: “I wasn’t really scared at that point because I didn’t think it was real.

“I thought I’d trapped a nerve in my back and this is just my nerves being a bit weird, I’ll be absolutely fine.”

Rachael would have recovered quicker, were it not for brain swelling –– a rare side affect which caused two seizures.

She added: “That was the point where it hit me how poorly I was. It hadn’t sunk in before.

“At my worst I couldn’t blink so I was given eyedrops, and I couldn’t talk.”

rachael 44

Rachael is now happy and healthy

With friends last year before she fell ill  (Rachael centre)

With friends last year before she fell ill (Rachael centre)

In January this year Rachael was moved to a rehab centre, where she has slowly been learning how to walk again.

She is now looking forward to moving into a specially adapted room in halls, but she still doesn’t know whether this will be in Grand Central or Apollo Court.

She said: “I can’t wait I’m really excited. I won’t recover properly for another year or so, and on a bad day, or if I get ill, there’s a chance I won’t be able to walk which is why I have the wheelchair and crutches.”

Now, the inspirational first year is looking forward to Brooklyn Mixer and having a normal life.

She said: “I’m just so appreciative of everything I’ve got, how I can use words and move.

“I’m so grateful that now I can tell someone if I have a problem and use my voice, which you don’t think about when you’re healthy.

“I’m thinking of changing my course to Physiotherapy because my physios were so amazing and it would be great to do that for someone else.

“I have a really supportive network of friends and family and I’m definitely going to enjoy my first year at university. This won’t hold me back.”