Alistair Summers battles back from rare condition

Alistair with his mum and dad, Jacky and Bryan
Alistair with his mum and dad, Jacky and Bryan
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A university student has spoken of his fight to regain his health after waking up 
one day and discovering he could not walk.

Alistair Summers, 19, had just finished his first piece of homework for his lecturers at the University of Hull, when he had to be rushed to hospital.

He was quickly diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the nerves in the arms and legs become inflamed and stop working.

At the time of falling ill Alistair was a normal fit teenager, who played football and enjoyed fencing and running.

He felt a bit fatigued one day in October but put it down to a run he had taken the day before.

However the next morning he woke up and couldn’t move his legs.

Alistair said: “I just thought I was a bit tired from the run but when I woke up I couldn’t walk.”

He had to crawl across his bedroom to let his university friends into his dorm room to take him to Hull Royal Infirmary.

Alistair called his parents from hospital.

His mother Jacky, 59, said: “I got a call from Alistair, he said ‘I’m all right I just can’t move my legs’.”

By the end of the day Alistair had lost all movement from the neck down.

Doctors diagnosed Gullian -Barre Syndrome that day.

The condition affects about 1,500 people in the UK every year.

There is no cure for the syndrome. However, many treatments are available to help reduce symptoms, treat complications, and speed up recovery.

Within days of falling ill, Alistair was in intensive care, paralysed and unable talk, communicating mainly through facial expressions, lip reading and making clicking noises.

After four weeks in intensive care Alistair was moved to Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, on the edge of Hull, where he started his rehabilitation, having to learn to walk again using crutches.

Alistair said: “It was like going back to being a baby again. When I lost all my movement, I was pretty worried, but more shocked.”

His parents Jacky and Bryan moved into a hotel near the hospital to be by his side and help with his months of rehabilitation which is still ongoing.

He was also visited most weekends by his sisters Carolyn Summers, 24, and Laura Dewing, 25.

Jacky, 59, said: “He was completely surrounded by machines which were doing everything for him. But as he started to recover the machines slowly started to disappear one by one and I started to think I am going to get my son back.”

Alistair returned home on February 15.

Jacky said: “It has been a real life-changing experience for the whole family. The situation was life-threatening for quite a while. It is an unpredictable illness, every case is different.

“It is such a rare condition, it is only when it affects you that you know about it.

Alistair, of Newbury Crescent in Bourne, got through his nightmare experience with remarkable spirit and a dark gallows humour which he shared with his friends.

His father Bryan, 79, a Rotarian at Bourne St Peters, said: “All the way through this, Alistair has smiled and he has been incredibly upbeat.”

Even while he was in hospital Alistair took part in charity fundraising, getting his legs wax to raise money for the medical teams who have helped him.

A visit in hospital from fellow Guillian-Barre Syndrom sufferer Jon Shelton helped keep Alistair’s spirits high

Alistair said: “It was really helpful to see someone who had fully recovered, especially for my mental condition.”

Mr Shelton, from Wales, has written articles for the Guillian-Barre Syndrom Support Group and Alistair has taken his lead and is currently writing his own article for them.

The group, which raises money for research, has also provided support to Alistair’s parents.

To give something back, Alistair and his parents will be holding a quiz night to raise money for Guillian-Barre Syndrom Support Group.

The quiz will take place at The Nags Head on April 12, starting at 7.30pm. It will cost £5 to enter. There will be a cash prize and raffle.

Alistair, who currently walks with the assistance of a stick and callipers, has also set himself series of personal goals.

Having passed his driving test last year he wants to get back behind the wheel of a car again and return to university in September to start his degree in business and Spanish again.

Ultimately he hopes to take up running again one
 day.