U.K. Receptionist Paralysed
By H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine
A receptionist at a GPs surgery has been left unable to walk
properly after having the swine flu jab.
Alison Dygnas, who as an NHS worker was advised to have the vaccination,
also experienced the paralysis in her face, had slurred speech
and found eating difficult.
Doctors believe the jab triggered a rare condition affecting
the nervous system known as myasthenia gravis.
When she had the vaccination in December, the mother of two
said she felt full of energy.
Six weeks later she started feeling stabbing pains in her legs,
which quickly intensified.
Almost overnight the condition spread to her face, paralysing
one side and causing her eyelids to become puffy and droopy.
She was taken to hospital as an emergency and doctors performed
MRI scans to provide detailed pictures of the muscles in her back
At first they were baffled, but then a neurologist diagnosed
her with myasthenia gravis.
One specialist told her the condition was almost certainly
caused by the vaccine, but that it was a one in a million
Doctors told me I had more chance of winning the lottery
twice than contracting this illness, said Mrs Dygnas, 47.
I dont feel any anger towards the Government for
not warning about this condition. I have just been very unlucky.
Mrs Dygnas, who owns a horse and used to walk her two dogs every
day, has been forced to give up her job and spends most of her
time at home.
The leg paralysis can be reduced by very strong tablets that
can be taken up to 20 times a day.
However, the medication causes nausea and vomiting, and takes
several weeks for the body to get used to it.
Mrs Dygnas takes five tablets a day and as a result she has regained
some of the movement in her legs enabling her to shuffle,
rather than walk.
But the illness is made worse by extreme temperatures so she
cannot have a hot bath or go on exotic holidays.
Her facial paralysis has almost gone and she can eat most foods,
with the exception of steak or other meals that require lots of
At the moment I am able to walk normally for a few hundred
yards then I have to shuffle, she said.
I just take very small steps.
I cant even wash my hair. I have to go to the hairdressers
twice a week to have it shampooed and blow-dried.
The worst time is in the middle of the night when I get
these stabbing pains in my legs and I cant move them to
make it go away. I also get pins and needles all over.
Mrs Dygnas, who lives with her husband Maciek, 63, in Welshampton,
Shropshire, is optimistic about the future.
Hopefully once I get used to the medication I can increase
my treatment to 20 tablets a day and then Ill be able to
walk further and return to work.
Myasthenia gravis affects around one in 5,000 people. It is most
common in women in their late 40s, and both sexes between the
age of 50 and 70.
February 1, 2010