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The Whitley Bay teenager with a neurological disorder who began speaking with Irish and French accents UK News

A healthy and active teenager, Mary Henry’s passions in life were playing football for Hartlepool United, hiking and traveling.

But her world was turned upside down after she woke up one morning with an unexplained physical contraction and then experienced verbal tics – even starting to speak with Irish and French accents.

The 19-year-old was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder (FND) – a problem with the functioning of the nervous system.

It affects the way the brain and body send and receive signals and it can lead to a host of physical, sensory and cognitive problems.

Mary went from being a proudly independent 19-year-old to relying on family and friends due to severe symptoms, including the inability to walk, speak, and chronic fatigue.

She said, “It’s incredibly frustrating. You wonder why you can’t do things like you did before.

“It’s a horrible thing to go through, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“The odd thing is that nothing seems to have triggered it. It just seems to happen to some people. I have noticed that it has happened to other athletes and young women.”

Shortly after her 19th birthday in October, she woke up with a twitch in her neck, but at first she got on her nerves.

Mary loved to hike with her younger brother Angus
Mary loved to hike with her younger brother Angus

However, a few days later, while working at Morrisons, the contractions became more frequent and she admits to being scared when she also started with verbal tics, including hissing and swearing.

Her GP did not know the reasoning behind the football fanatic’s mysterious symptoms and the next day she was taken to A&E.

The Whitley Bay teenager would later be diagnosed with FND which would radically change her life.

“I was so confused and also very scared,” she said. “I had no choice but to what was going on.

“I couldn’t stop him, but I couldn’t communicate with anyone either.

“I had no idea what was going on and I didn’t know what the FND was.

The teenager developed verbal and physical tics and was later diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder (FND)
The teenager developed verbal and physical tics and was later diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder (FND)

“Until now, no one knows or fully understands the causes of the FND.

“Anyone who’s been with me recently will have been subjected to my curses and accents.

“I have a good Irish accent now which I usually can’t do. It’s actually quite funny. When I first went to A&E the doctor I saw was Irish and it was since then is I can do it.

“Some words like ‘Scooby Doo’ which I now say with a French accent too. It’s just weird.”

Over the next few months, Mary would develop severe symptoms of FND, including paralysis of the legs, intermittent loss of speech, chronic fatigue, and muscle weakness.

Devastatingly, she was forced to buy a wheelchair after suddenly losing the use of her legs.

She said, “I remember sitting down watching TV and when I got up I fell straight down. Within 24 hours I lost the use of my leg muscles.

“During periods of 10, 20 or 30 minutes, I am not able to move my tongue, so I cannot speak to anyone, which is very frustrating.

“I also suffer from brain fog, I have itchy skin and I have issues with my hands so I can’t pick things up.”

Prior to her diagnosis, Mary played center for Hartlepool United’s women’s first team and coached at North Shields Juniors AFC.

So it was a big blow not being able to walk and now she has to relearn how to do basic things like cracking an egg.

Mary plays football for Hartlepool United
Mary plays football for Hartlepool United

She said: “It was very difficult. I was supposed to move to Australia after my A level, but Covid then hit for that to happen.

“I had to swallow my pride a bit. I needed help finding food and going to the bathroom for example.

“I live with my parents and two younger brothers and they have all given me incredible support. They helped me with everything – from appointments with the doctor to listening to what I said.

“It must be so difficult for them and I think it is sometimes overlooked. They were all so in shock when it all started – like me.”

With no dedicated NHS FND site in the North East and long waiting lists for centers across the country, the former Kings Priory School student sought private treatment in order to have the better chance of recovery.

But since she now only works part-time, she started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for her treatment.

Mary pictured with her brother Angus Henry
Mary pictured with her brother Angus Henry

And she was overwhelmed by public support who pledged over £ 4,000 to the cause.

She said: “My treatment involves physiotherapy, which I have already started, and the support of a neuropsychologist.

“It is very important with FND to start treatment as early as possible in order to have the best chance of a complete recovery.

“I’m probably going to need several months of treatment from my physiotherapist at …

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This notice was published: 2021-05-01 07:14:37