Mum-of-three Anna Barrow was told the loss of sensation in her arm was due to a Covid jab and that it would get better within the next 18 months.
Instead, after struggling to breathe, 38-year-old Anna was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Anna’s loss of sensation in her arm began in March 2021 but doctors figured it was nerve damage due to her Covid jab being administered too high up in her arm.
Her symptoms began to get worse as the loss of sensation spread across her body, so she was urgently referred to a neurology department, but was confronted with a 71-week waiting list.
While waiting for an appointment, Anna was in a work meeting when she realised she was struggling to breathe and swallow, which promoted her to go to A&E.
After a two week hospital stay and numerous tests, Anna was diagnosed with MND in May.
Anna said: ‘It was really difficult. They had kept me in hospital and were doing loads of tests so we knew it was potentially not going to be good news.
‘I was a social worker so I’ve worked with a few people with MND but they’ve all been male if they’re younger and then there’s been a few older people with it.
‘I knew it was a possibility but with my age and being female, I just didn’t think it would be that.’
Anna has been with husband Martyn, 39, since she was 16 and they have three daughters – Tilly, 18, Eve, 15 and Fallon, 13.
The couple have said the hardest thing was telling their children because they know ‘it’s something that we’ve got to deal with every day’.
Her husband, Martyn, said: ‘We realised it was pretty serious when the doctors said to Anna that she needed to let them know when I arrived.
‘They literally told us and it was heart-breaking – there was a lot of tears and they kept going and coming back.
‘The first thing we thought about was the kids and we decided to rip the plaster off when we came home.
‘You have good days and bad days now and it’s not something that you can deal with and then move on with.
‘We know it’s here now and it’s something that we’ve got to deal with every day. We said we would deal with it how we always deal with stuff – with humour and positivity.’
Although the disease can affect anyone of any age, it mainly affects people in their 60s or their 70s.
Which is why Anna said that sometimes people are shocked when they find out she was diagnosed at just 38.
Anna, from Greater Manchester, said: ‘We think only 5,000 people in the UK have it and I’ve been told I’m the youngest female with it in the area.
‘We went to a MND association branch meeting and we were sat on a table with a family whose uncle had just been recently diagnosed.
‘Then people came over and were asking who in my family had been affected and I had to say it was me.
‘At my first hospital consultation, one of the nurses came out and was wandering around the waiting room looking for me. She was clearly looking for an older person.’
As there is currently no cure for MND, Anna has been told to ‘live her life’ the best she can, so the family are planning to take their children to Disney.
Martyn said: ‘It doesn’t get better as it’s progressive. There’s different challenges so you have to just move forward with it.
‘The doctor has told Anna to go and live her life and make memories.
‘We’ve got a holiday planned for August for a week and we’re trying to plan to take the girls to Disney.
‘It’s something that Anna has always wanted to do with the kids and now we need to get that done.’
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