Morecambe mum’s battle through rare condition

Photo: David Hurst'Samantha Rawcliffe of Fairfield Avenue, Morecambe, who is suffering from Functional Neurological Disorder and is promoting FND Awarness Week.
Photo: David Hurst'Samantha Rawcliffe of Fairfield Avenue, Morecambe, who is suffering from Functional Neurological Disorder and is promoting FND Awarness Week.
  • Functional Neurological Disorder is when the brain fails to send and receive signals properly
  • Patients are often given a diagnosis and sent home with very little to no information
  • It can be as debilitating as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple sclerosis as it has many similar symptoms
  • Physical Therapy is the most effective form of treatment with a goal of re-introducing proper movement and motor control

Just one bump whilst driving on the promenade changed the course of a Morecambe mum’s life forever.

When Samantha Rawcliffe bumped her car into the back of another last June everything changed.

Photo: David Hurst'Samantha Rawcliffe of Fairfield Avenue, Morecambe, who is suffering from Functional Neurological Disorder and is promoting FND Awarness Week.

Photo: David Hurst'Samantha Rawcliffe of Fairfield Avenue, Morecambe, who is suffering from Functional Neurological Disorder and is promoting FND Awarness Week.

In a matter of days Samantha’s job, her car and her way of life was taken away.

The mum-of-two lost sensation in her legs and bladder and was rushed to Preston Royal Hospital.

Her life was turned upside down when the doctors uttered three words.

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

You are kind of mourning for the life you had, it’s a bit like a bereavement for your old self

Samantha Rawcliffe

The rare disorder is an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms of neurological origin which affect the signals being sent to the brain.

It causes Samantha uncontrollable spasms which restricts her ability to walk more than eight metres.

She has to take 32 tablets a day to control her choking fits and her tremors.

She said: “My way of coping is I laugh a lot because that’s just me, there’s no point in crying.

“I think my family has found it quite hard, especially my kids.

“Obviously I was mum who did everything and did all the stuff that mum’s do even though I worked full time at school, that all stopped.

“I think I have only now just started to accept it. It has taken me a long time.”

The former teacher’s health has been up and down since she was 16 years-old.

As a teenager she had a mini stroke and suffered from Bell’s palsy but quickly recovered and met her husband Phillip a few months later.

Her life was back on track until a car crash twelve years ago on Thornton Road, in Morecambe, left with her with a long-standing back injury.

Because of this doctors have struggled to pinpoint exactly when Samantha developed FND symptoms.

Samantha said: “They’re not sure if I have had this from then and it has all been dormant.

“The other option they said was because my body has been in pain for so long it has just shut down.”

Samantha dedicated 13 years of teaching at Morecambe Bay Primary School and enjoyed trips to the Lake District with her family, even managing to fit in the gym five times a week.

All this stopped leaving the 40-year-old feeling trapped in her home on Fairfield Road.

Anger and frustration is a constant state of mind as simple tasks such as going to the toilet or doing the dishes have been taken away.

She said: “The hardest part is looking out the window and watching everyone else just go out and do stuff.

“I get really cross because I can’t do the stupid, simplest things, sometimes I cant lift the bloody kettle up.

“I’m only young, 40, I am not 90.

“You are kind of mourning for the life you had, it’s a bit like a bereavement for your old self.”

Although the condition has taken over much of her life Samantha still tries to keep upbeat with the help from her husband and children, Rhys, 19 and Rebecca 17.

She said: “I have a lot of support from my family and friends and my sister Tracy and mum Pat all care for me.

“I love them dearly for pulling me out of the darkest days.

“My tremors drive me insane, my husband said it is like sitting with a jackhammer.

“You have to make jokes, he is good, he does loads of the house work and works.”

Samantha is currently waiting for a wheelchair and plans to get an automatic scooter so she will able to go out further than the promenade.