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UK Woman Left Housebound After Contracting Deadly Virus In Mexico Makes Desperate Plea For Wheelchair
Tuesday 22 December 2015
From UK newspaper the Liverpool Echo:
Woman left housebound after contracting deadly virus in Mexico makes desperate plea for wheelchair
Gemma Speht, 32, left with chronic muscle weakness condition after battling virus
A Liverpool woman left housebound after contracting a debilitating illness has made a desperate plea for money to buy a lifesaving wheelchair.
Gemma Speht, 32, contracted a potentially deadly virus while doing wildlife conservation in Mexico 18 months ago and was forced to return home.
After suffering face paralysis for three months, the 32-year-old was left with an incurable long-term muscle weakness condition called fibromyalgia.
Gemma explained how her illness has left her feeling like an elderly person.
She told the ECHO: “I travelled quite a bit when I was well - I lived in Africa, Mexico, London.
“About a year and a half ago, I was doing wildlife conservation in Mexico and I got a virus. So I came back to Liverpool because I was very ill.
“The virus made my immune system very weak and gave me Bell’s palsy, which gave me nerve damage in my face.
“Luckily for me it only lasted three months and my face went back to normal.
“But it left me with a debilitating illness called fibromyalgia, which causes muscle weakness, even in your eyes. It makes your brain weak as well.
“It can be permanent. It’s pretty horrible. You feel like an 80 or 90-year-old.
“My family and friends tried to get a normal NHS wheelchair - one of the push ones.
“But the problem with those is that they are very, very heavy, so you can’t go anywhere with them.”
The 32-year-old, who lives on her own, described the “nightmare” of being trapped in her own home.
She said she would love nothing more than to go to the supermarket on her own, and to visit the Christmas lights in town.
Gemma told the ECHO: “The biggest problem for me is not being able to leave the house. Being housebound really gets you depressed. I’ve got terrible cabin fever.
“For me, even going to the shop and getting a pint of milk is a dream. I can’t do it without family or friends.
“You suddenly lack independence. For me, I’d love to be able to go to the shop on my own.
“I have to get a taxi to the doctors.
“I live right by Princes Park in Toxteth. I live right by a beautiful park but I can’t go. I want to be able to take my dog.
“When I first got sick I thought about giving her up for adoption, but I’m lucky I’ve got friends walking her for me.
“It sounds silly but I’d just love to be able to go to Tesco - just simple things like that.
“I was living in the jungle before I got sick, I was very adventurous. But now I can’t leave the house.”
Gemma set up a Crowdfunder page to raise money for an electric wheelchair which would allow her to leave the house.
She told the ECHO: “I’ve been researching for the best wheelchair for over a year now, but they’re so expensive. Even the cheapest is still over a grand.
“The reason I need to raise funds for an electric wheelchair that is lightweight and portable is because I would like to be able to leave the house.
“I would love to go to a park with my dog, go to my niece’s wedding next year and to get out of the house and see the world.
“Any help at all with this would be greatly appreciated.”
To donate, visit the Crowdfunder page here.
The above originally appeared here.
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