Woman wakes up with stiff neck, ends up paralyzed: 'I couldn't even wipe my own tears'

A 24-year-old woman from Wales is raising money for treatment in Oman after she woke up three years ago with a stiff neck and ended up paralyzed, according to the Daily Mail.

In Aug. 2016, Helen Fincham, then 21, woke up after sleeping in what she described as an awkward position. She reportedly felt neck pain, which by midday had spread throughout her body.

"I was struggling to breathe, and, all of a sudden, I was having pains in my arm," she told WalesOnline. "I phoned the doctors, and the receptionist said that you need to go to hospital right now."

Paramedics conducted an electrocardiography on Fincham, which didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary. When she tried to get up, however, she had trouble.

"They went to help me up and I just fell through their arms, and I was looking up at them confused as to why I wasn't stood up," she recalled. 

Fincham was taken to a hospital, where doctors purportedly gave her a patellar reflex exam. When her knee didn't jerk, Fincham said she knew something was wrong.

"I was crying," she said. "I couldn't even wipe my own tears."

Months later, doctors determined that Fincham was suffering from transverse myelitis, a viral infection of both sides of part of a spinal cord. Symptoms of the neurological disorder include pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems, or bladder and bowel dysfunction, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For the past three years, Fincham has been dependent on caregivers, who tend to her seven hours a day. She also visits a spinal-injury center for physiotherapy.

"I can move my arms enough to feed myself, but I can't cut up food or prepare anything like that," she told WalesOnline.

Things appeared to take on a more positive outlook in June, when Fincham was invited to the Royal Garden Party and met Prince Charles, the Daily Mail reports. After sharing her story, she received a call from his staff, who recommended that she seek better treatment at a recovery center in Oman. 

The 24-year-old is now trying to raise over $10,000 to receive the medical care. 

"I need financial help with my flights, accommodation and treatments while I am there to make this once in a lifetime change happen and make my quality of life better again and any donation will help me on my road to recovery," her JustGiving page reads. 

Fincham told WalesOnline that the goal of all these treatments is to ultimately be more independent. 

"I feel guilty for asking for support but it is not a broken leg that I can fix in six weeks," she said. "I need physio to help me get stronger, and hopefully once I am more able, I can get stronger naturally."

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