CHESTERFIELD: Dancer struck by mystery illness

YOUNG dancer Jessica Sherwood had waltzed down the aisle only weeks before.

Jessica Sherwood with wife Terri-Ann Sherwood

Jessica Sherwood with wife Terri-Ann Sherwood

But as she lay in a hospital bed, barely able to walk because of a mystery illness, the realisation hit that she may never use her tap shoes again.

The 23-year-old’s life changed overnight when she woke up feeling ill at home in Grassmoor, Chesterfield, last September.

Former carer Jessica said: “I literally woke up one day and felt off. Because I had a job looking after elderly people I thought I’d caught another bug at work.

“I couldn’t put my finger on it but something wasn’t right.”

When Jessica’s leg started shaking - similar to tremors suffered as a teen - she rushed to the doctor. An agonising month was then spent at Calow Hospital waiting for answers to symptoms.

Seizures lasting up to six hours, speech problems, fatigue, limb weakness and spasms all rack her previously healthy body.

“Every day I got worse, every day something else didn’t work”, said Jessica. “I watched the dance film Burlesque and that’s when it hit me, I got upset, I couldn’t dance. That’s probably the thing that is most heart-breaking.”

Brain scans, video tests for epilepsy and other tests all came back clear. Doctors eventually gave Jessica an official diagnosis of functional neurological disorder (FND). They say the little-known problem is often caused by pyschological trauma but Jessica insists she had no such ordeals.

A psychiatric report also found no evidence of mental health problems.

Jessica and wife Terri-Ann, 27, are now adapting to a new life of 24-hour care while medics investigate the theory her symptoms could be chronic condition ME.

The couple - who both gave up their jobs and relied on family to help after Jessica fell ill – are determined to take each day as it comes and raise awareness of FND.

Determined Jessica added: “To be quite honest I couldn’t care less what they want to call it, all I want to do is be told what treatment I need to do and get on with it.

“If I’m like this permanently but I live until I’m 90, I’m not going to spend that time depressed.”

BIG-HEARTED folk raised over £2,000 to buy Jessica a life-changing electric wheelchair.

She did not meet NHS criteria to receive the equipment as she can walk just a few steps.

But thanks to donations she will now be able to go out walking with Terri-Ann and their dog Cooky,again.

Jessica said: “The other day we nipped into town with a carer and for the first time since I was poorly Terri could hold my hand.

“With the wheelchair I will be able to do that – we can be a proper couple.”