Jenna was a teenager when she developed FND. Here, Jenna’s mum, with her permission describes what happened to Jenna with tremor and paralysis, how she improved with treatment, then relapsed badly after a second accident with paralysis and urinary retention. Eventually, and after a long time, made a good recovery with more therapy. For Jenna, it was important to recognise how much pressure she had been putting on herself – learning to listen her body, setting realistic goals and learning that you don’t need to be perfect were all important for her.
Here, Jenna’s mum tells her story and the things that helped her to make a great recovery in the end with multidisciplinary input.
Jenna was always a perfectionist pushing herself to be the best at everything she did. She was extremely sporty, dancer and an actress. She also was the kind of person that never let anyone down even if she needed to change plans she wouldn’t, she had just completed her GCSES. She would strive to stick to her word, in hindsight pushing herself too much both mentally and physically.
In 2018 she became unwell after banging her head she developed a tremor and paralysis. After being took to the hospital she was then discharged the same day with FND. The following months she deteriorated massively but after a lot of raising money we managed to get private physio to the point she could run up the stairs and was doing amazingly well.
On the day when Jenna was discharged from residential physio, we were on our way home, when we were hit by a car on the motorway. She never got home for 18 months after that. She was completely paralysed from the neck down, she couldn’t feel her limbs, pass urine or even hold up her own neck. It was devastating. Jenna was admitted onto a gynaecology ward as the hospital really didn’t know how to deal with her symptoms but was very supportive to us as a family. After having to raise media attention – as being in the hospital wasn’t the right place for her – we were supported by our local health service who decided to fund Jenna at the residential rehab she had been previously.
It has been a very hard long road to recovery and many times we thought this was it, our new kind of normal. Through hydrotherapy, neurophysio, psychology and a lot of understanding the links, Jenna managed to start to see progress and sometimes setbacks too. A lot of honesty, realisation, acceptance and determination was needed and most important not setting too high targets too soon, as not hitting them was detrimental to progress.
Moving forward, Jenna continues to strive, now working and enjoying life and catching up on the years she’s missed. What things helped her improve? Looking back, I think Jenna’s ambition and pressure she put on herself to be perfect had a massive effect on her and battling emotions and feelings but not talking about them.
Now she has learnt to listen to her body- eating , drinking and sleeping properly – and taking time to write those worries down and talk about them, rather than allowing it to build up inside, and understanding perfection doesn’t exist – it’s ok to say no.
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