A Welsh mother-of-two has told of her feeling “completely helpless” after suffering a paralysis minutes after telling her children she was having a bath.
Jessica Ennis, 30, from Gelligaer, a village north of Cardiff and Caerphilly, had planned to take her children to nursery after her bath but instead became paralysed, on June 21 2023.
The aesthetics worker was dragged out of the bath by her mother and quickly taken to hospital by paramedics, where she was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND) – a sudden condition summarised as “a problem with how the brain receives and sends information to the rest of the body,” by the NHS, with symptoms including “arm and leg weakness and seizures.”
Ms Ennis, who is now bedbound at Ystrad Mynach Hospital and had experienced pain and discomfort all over her body since August 2022, told WalesOnline: “I felt completely numb when they told me – life my life had been taken away.
“I just want to be a mum again, I want to be a wife again, and I want to be Jess again,” exclaimed the mum who had been an active member of the Gelligaer community before symptoms began.
“Life couldn’t have been more perfect. I ran the local kids’ and men’s football teams in Gelligaer, I ran a half marathon, we travelled often in our motorhome, we were always out doing stuff as a family, and even looked after my three nieces often.”
Ennis said symptoms began in August 2022 with “an unexplainable pain” that was “debilitating”. She went blind overnight in her left eye and also said her “skin began almost burning in a horrific pain,” followed by “splitting migraines” and “heavy limbs”, all the while struggling to stay awake.
Diagnosed with fibromyalgia, her life continued like this for the foreseeable future. After a “rare good day” on her 30th birthday on June 17, however, her symptoms rapidly worsened and four days later she lasted just ten minutes in the bath before being paralysed from the waist down.
“I couldn’t move my legs at all. It was terrifying. I called my mum who came around and dragged me out the bath before an ambulance got to us. That was the last time I saw my own home.”
Ennis says she hasn’t had any feeling in her legs since being moved to hospital and has “multiple seizures a day where it feels like lightning bolts are running through my body,” adding that “my throat closes and I can’t breathe while I’m having them.”
She says “the worst part is the hyper-sensitivity meaning I can’t bear being touched and all I want to do is hug my husband and my children.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes around four to 12 people in every 100,000 will get FND.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help modify Jess’s home and make the transition as easy as possible.