Supporting staff at Donald Wilson House who helped Richard walk again
A 39-year-old man who contracted a bacterial infection after ingesting under cooked chicken and became paralysed from the neck down, is running a 5k race for an NHS charity to thank hospital staff who helped him get back on his feet.
Richard Jackson, an IT analyst from Brighton, became unwell on 4th December 2018 and was admitted to the A&E department at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
Medical staff discovered Richard had contracted campylobacter bacteria, an infection that enters the system through raw or undercooked poultry, which in turn triggered a rare auto-immune condition called Transverse Myelitis.
He was moved to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and placed in an induced coma after quickly deteriorating and losing nearly all movement in his body.
He said: “I consider myself to be pretty active and had been windsurfing with friends to celebrate my birthday just a few days before I became ill. The morning after I felt unwell, but thought I was just a little tired from the previous night out. A few days later, I couldn’t stand or walk properly and ended up collapsing at my parents’ home.”
Every new movement they helped me to relearn felt like a small victory
Ten days after being admitted to hospital, Richard was gradually brought out of the coma, but said he could hear relatives and friends talking to him throughout.
“I heard my mother say, ‘I know you’re asleep, but if you can hear me, squeeze my hand?’ He said, “I managed to move my thumb very lightly so she knew I could hear her.”
After being transferred to the hospital’s acute neurological rehabilitation unit, Donald Wilson House, Richard gradually began to see improvements in his mobility and says the staff there were “really quite amazing.”
“Every new movement they helped me to relearn felt like a small victory. When friends and family came to visit, I was excited to show them what I could do like eating with a knife and fork again.”
Shelton Bates, Ward Manager of Donald Wilson House said: “Our main focus was getting Richard out of bed to help him establish his environment. His will to challenge himself was evident and we supported him in his determination to push his limits. Without his own positive outlook on life, Richard wouldn’t be where he is now.”
Despite having no core strength and unable to sit up unaided, Richard says he took comfort from making accomplishing small things like lifting his foot off the bed.
“A real turning point for me was getting myself out of my wheelchair and into a car so I could go home to my parents for a visit over Christmas. When I arrived, the whole family and my partner James were there ready to greet me. There were lots of tears all round, it was very emotional.”
After just under two months’ treatment at Donald Wilson House, Richard returned home in January earlier this year, but admits it wasn’t easy getting back to normal life and that performing basic daily tasks left him feeling tired.
One year on from his ordeal, Richard now plans to take on the Running Grand Prix 5k race at Goodwood Motor Circuit, taking place on Sunday
8 December, to raise funds for Love Your Hospital, the dedicated charity of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
He says: “Mobility wise I’m doing really well. I still get leg spams and my body gets fatigued easily so covering 5k will be a real challenge for me. However, I’m motivated to raise as much as I can for Love Your Hospital in aid of Donald Wilson House so staff can provide more rehabilitation equipment and help patients like me.”
Amanda Tucker, Head of Charity, said: “The progress Richard has made in a year is testament to his strong and positive spirit. On behalf of the charity team, and the dedicated staff who helped him to recover, I’d like to say a huge thank you to him for his support and the very best of luck for the upcoming run.”
Shelton added: “We’re immensely grateful to Richard for supporting the unit and proud to have been part of his journey. We have no doubt that he’ll finish this 5k race!”
To donate to Richard’s appeal, please visit www.gofundme.com/f/donald-wilson-5k-run