A DEFIANT Limerick woman who contracted a rare, life threatening disease has vowed that she will not spend her life confined to a wheelchair and will learn to walk again.
Patricia Ingle, 23, was struck down with a rare disease in 2008 and was left paralysed, wheelchair bound and on a ventilator.
She contracted chlamydia psittacosis, an airborne infection which can be transferred from birds to humans, allegedly while working in PetMania pet shop on the Ennis Road in Limerick, and received a €7.5m settlement from the store and the Health Service Executive earlier this year.
After spending 1,069 days in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, she was discharged this summer and has moved now to the Oxford Centre for Enablement, where she could spend up to a year in recovery.
“I never in my life had a wheelchair, and I said to myself I never will. I plan to be the way I always was, as in I will never accept it and that is keeping me going as well.
“In my head I am normal but I know I don’t really look it, but I will in time. All the physios are well pleased with me, I do everything they ask. They work people hard but that is what this place is. No pain no gain,” she said.
She also spoke about her hopes to be able to eat normally again, as she is still being fed through a tube due to the strength of her vocal cords.
Her parents, Pat and Annette, have moved over to Oxford with her, while her two sisters travel over every second weekend to help relieve their admitted loneliness.
Mum Annette said the progress she is making amounts to a “little miracle”.
“She is working very, very hard and is able to stand up now for much longer and take some steps. She has even started cooking and has been weaned off the machine for four times a day for 15 minutes. She is making good progress, but she’s exhausted. But this is what this place is for,” she said.
Annette said her daughter has also begun working on her vocals, which in the beginning were completely paralysed.
“All the medical professionals are very impressed with Patricia, because she is so determined and so positive to walk again. We will stay here until the end – until she can’t do no more.
“We were nervous in case they told us there would be no improvement,” she said, but that is not the case.
“It’s a pity they didn’t have anything like this for her in Ireland. It’s a terrible shame we had to come all the way over here,” she added.
Ms Ingle was not a suitable candidate for the national rehabilitation centre in Dun Laoghaire as she is on a ventilator.
She has spent just six weeks in the Oxford centre, but is already showing many signs of improvement, and has been able to use a keypad to communicate with her friends on Facebook for the first time.
“She wrote nearly a book the first night she was on it,” her mum joked.
The family, who are originally from Ballinacurra Weston and recently moved to Murroe, said they greatly miss their life in Limerick.