A woman who woke up in the middle of the night having lost the ability to move and speak today told how she got her life back through fitness.
Fiona Halliday, 63, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, but around three years ago she woke up during the night and found she was unable to get out of bed.
She said: “It was petrifying. I woke up and wanted to stand up from my bed and I couldn’t.
“I couldn’t walk or speak, so I went to ARI and the doctors could tell something was not right.”
Fiona said doctors admitted her for a brain scan, thinking she had suffered a stroke.
She added: “I had all the symptoms. The left side of my face was dropped and I couldn’t talk.”
After multiple tests, the doctors told Fiona and her family she had developed a very rare form of MS called tumefactive MS – the condition causes all the symptoms of a stroke and Fiona now has a non life-threatening brain tumour.
Fiona said: “It was very scary because we didn’t know what it was for a long time. I wasn’t able to hold myself up, I had trouble balancing when I would try to walk, I couldn’t even hold a spoon to feed myself – it was awful.”
Before the incident, Fiona was a fitness instructor and the condition temporarily took this away. But now, with time, it has been a major motivation to getting her back on her feet.
Supported by her two children, David, 38, and Gemma, 36, and her husband David, 64, Fiona was on the road to recovery.
She said: “For me, the biggest thing in my life was the gym and I had that taken away from me.
“Fitness had always been my passion – and I knew I had to get back to it. My friends would tell me if I went to the gym I would die.
“The doctors sent me home with two Zimmers and walking sticks.”
Determined not to use them, Fiona started walking every day for 10 minutes to build up her strength.
With the help of doctors, neurological physiotherapy, occupational therapists, speech therapists and a personal trainer, Fiona has made major strides in her balance, walking and co-ordination.
A year ago, she was able to join The Unit gym in Banchory, where personal trainers help her to train. “It has taken me three years to get here and the journey felt like a long one,” she said.
“But it’s a big difference from three years ago – and I even just got my driving licence back.
“I was down and picked myself back up.”
Fiona continues to struggle with her speech because of the mass pressing on her brain, but will not be discouraged.
She said: “Everyone can do something to better themselves, even if you’re diagnosed with a horrible condition you shouldn’t give up.”
Now, she hopes to give back to the charity MS Society which was there for her during the difficult times. Fiona will be taking on the zipline challenge of 230 metres through trees in Crieff near Perth.