Motor Neurone Disease: Expert on early signs and symptoms
When Anna Barrow first experienced a loss of sensation in her arm doctors believed it was caused by nerve damage from having a Covid jab too high up in her arm.
The 38-year-old was told it should get better within 18 months, however her symptoms got progressively worse and the loss of sensation spread across her body.
She was urgently referred to a neurology department but was told that there was a 71-week waiting list.
But during a work meeting one day Anna, from Eccles in Manchester, was struggling to breathe and swallow, which prompted her to go to A&E.
After a two week hospital stay and numerous tests, Anna was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).
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The mum-of-three recalled: “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 have 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.”
Alongside husband Martyn, 39, Anna has three daughters – Tilly, 18, Eve, 15 and Fallon, 13.
“We realised it was pretty serious when the doctors said to Anna that she needed to let them know when I arrived,” Martyn said.
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“They literally told us and it was heartbreaking – there were 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.”
What is MND?
MND affects nerves found in the brain and spinal cord known as motor neurons, which tell your muscles what to do.
Over time this causes weakness across the body. It also significantly shortens life expectancy, eventually leading to death.
According to the MND Association, most people affected by MND are aged between 50 and 70.
Early signs of MND can include:
- Weakness in your ankle or leg – you might trip, or find it harder to climb stairs
- Slurred speech, which may develop into difficulty swallowing some foods
- A weak grip – you might drop things, or find it hard to open jars or do up buttons
- muscle cramps and twitches
- Weight loss – your arms or leg muscles may have become thinner over time
- Difficulty stopping yourself from crying or laughing in inappropriate situations.
Anna 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.
“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.
Charity worker Martyn said: “It doesn’t get better as it’s progressive. There are 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.”
The family has a fundraising page set up to raise money for a trip to Disneyland as part of this.
To donate visit gofundme.com/f/the-brave-barrows.
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