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Ex-journalist ‘luckiest person alive’ after ear infection almost killed her

A former regional journalist says she feels like “the luckiest person alive” after recovering from an ear infection which almost killed her.

Haidee Wilson, who worked for Blackpool daily The Gazette, was left completely paralysed for five weeks after falling ill while on a trip to London to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.

But, after feeling “weird” at her hotel room and visiting a nearby walk-in centre, she was sent to the renowned National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery – where she was in an induced coma for two weeks after collapsing at reception.

Now, following her recovery, she had spoken to the newspaper where she worked for 20 years about her ordeal, with The Gazette splashing on the feature yesterday.

Blackpool Haidee

Said Haidee: “When I got there, I went to a kiosk and handed in the paperwork the walk-in centre had given me and two minutes later, someone came out and took me into a room. She asked me a question and all of a sudden, I could not control my mouth and couldn’t speak.

“I thought I was having a stroke and she grabbed the phone and within seconds, a team of medics raced into the room. I was still conscious at this point and can remember this happening.”

She added: “I suddenly went from being a normal and high functioning person to effectively being locked in. I could not move anything and I was surrounded by tubes. For the first five weeks, I was completely paralysed.

“The first thing I can remember is after I came out of the induced coma, my friend Sally standing there saying: ‘You will get better than this.’ That was as positive as anyone could be as the degree of improvement is impossible to predict for a long time.”

Haidee was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system.

She had suffered from an ear infection prior to her trip, and it is believed this is what triggered her illness.

Haidee spent nine weeks in intensive care where she was helped by “absolutely fantastic” staff, although owing to the side effects of the strong drugs she was placed on she suffered vivid nightmares and thought at times they were trying to kill her.

The next five months were spent re-learning how to do everything from walking, talking and eating.

She has recently finished her last balance class, and plans to write a book about her experience to raise awareness and education people about the condition.

Haidee added: “Fate was on my side and I was in exactly the right place at the right time. I was supposed to have been driving back home the next day. I almost certainly would have died if it had happened on my way back from London.

“I want to be an ambassador for other people whose lack of bodily movement has no bearing on their mental capacity. I would not change what happened to me as it brought people and emotions into my life that I would never have experienced.

“The capacity for human kindness and empathy amazed me from the people who cared for me to the scores of people who visited me every single day. “I feel like the luckiest person alive.”


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  • April 12, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    A nice human interest story which sadly far too many local papers simply don’t have the time or inclination to report anymore.

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  • April 12, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    She’s an ex-journo with a good news sense who knew her story was worth telling so, I assume, she went round to her local newspaper office & gave it to them. Or possibly she emailed it in. That is the only way these days good stories like this can ever get published; newspapers don’t want anything that requires effort!

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  • April 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

    As the reporter who interviewed Haidee and wrote this story, I can assure you this was done properly with no “waiting for an e-mail” element to it.
    Haidee’s former colleagues and friends were all aware of her sudden life threatening illness and many were in touch with her throughout her ordeal.
    Haidee’s recovery was paramount and we kept in touch with her and only once she had reached a point where she was happy to be interviewed did we arrange a proper face-to-face interview with her so we could tell her story.
    I spent two-and-a-half to three hours interviewing Haidee to get her full in-depth story, I interviewed one of the London hospital consultants who treated her and I researched the rare condition she was diagnosed with. We also sent a photographer to take new photos of her.
    Haidee’s story was then used across a number of papers in the North West.
    There are many human interest stories in the same vein covered regularly by myself, my colleagues and many journalists up and down the country.
    To say “newspapers don’t want anything that requires effort” is unfair to the many journalists working hard to do the best job they can despite the challenging conditions facing the industry.
    Thank you Haidee for sharing your story to highlight awareness. We are all delighted you have made such a great recovery. Wishing you all the best for the future.

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