By Sophie Borland
01st February 2010
A receptionist at a GP’s surgery has been left unable to walk properly after having the
swine flu jab.
Alison Dygnas, who as an NHS worker was advised to have the vaccination, also
experienced the paralysis in her face, had slurred speech and found eating difficult.
Doctors believe the jab triggered a rare condition affecting the nervous system known as myasthenia gravis.
When she had the vaccination in December, the mother of two said she felt ‘full of energy’.
Six weeks later she started feeling stabbing pains in her legs, which quickly intensified.
Almost overnight the condition spread to her face, paralysing one side and causing
her eyelids to become puffy and droopy.
She was taken to hospital as an emergency and doctors performed MRI scans to
provide detailed pictures of the muscles in her back and legs.
At first they were baffled, but then a neurologist diagnosed her with myasthenia gravis.
One specialist told her the condition was ‘almost certainly’ caused by the vaccine, but that it was a ‘one in a million’ case.
‘Doctors told me I had more chance of winning the lottery twice than contracting this illness,’ said Mrs Dygnas, 47.
‘I don’t feel any anger towards the Government for not warning about this condition. I have just been very unlucky.’
Mrs Dygnas, who owns a horse and used to walk her two dogs every day, has been forced to give up her job and spends most of her time at home.
The leg paralysis can be reduced by very strong tablets that can be taken up to 20
times a day.
However, the medication causes nausea and vomiting, and takes several weeks for the body to get used to it.
Mrs Dygnas takes five tablets a day and as a result she has regained some of the movement in her legs – enabling her to ‘shuffle’, rather than walk.
But the illness is made worse by extreme temperatures so she cannot have a hot bath or go on exotic holidays.
Her facial paralysis has almost gone and she can eat most foods, with the exception
of steak or other meals that require lots of chewing.
‘At the moment I am able to walk normally for a few hundred yards then I have to shuffle,’ she said.
‘I just take very small steps.
‘I can’t even wash my hair. I have to go to the hairdresser’s twice a week to have it shampooed and blow-dried.
‘The worst time is in the middle of the night when I get these stabbing pains in my legs and I can’t move them to make it go away. I also get pins and needles all over.’
Mrs Dygnas, who lives with her husband Maciek, 63, in Welshampton, Shropshire, is
optimistic about the future.
‘Hopefully once I get used to the medication I can increase my treatment to 20 tablets a day and then I’ll be able to walk further and return to work.’
Myasthenia gravis affects around one in 5,000 people. It is most common in women in
their late 40s, and both sexes between the age of 50 and 70.