A brave woman who suffers from a rare neurological condition cheered on her friend as she completed a triathlon in aid of the charity searching for a cure.
Annabelle Moult was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica – known as NMO – five years ago following two years of tests after she experienced blurred vision and pins and needles one morning in 2007.
She said: “I woke up and initially thought it was a bad vino hangover, but as the day carried on it got worse and then I collapsed getting out of bed in the middle of the night.”
Annabelle’s close friend Lucy O’Hare, 35, took on the Blenheim Palace Triathlon and has raised £3,200 so far for the Guthy Jackson Foundation in America, which is researching into the uncommon condition which means the mylein sheath – a fatty tissue surrounding the nerves – breaks down a lot faster than it should.
She spent several months in the John Radcliffe surrounded by doctors trying to work out what was wrong with her, before being transferred to the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital so she could learn how to live her life in a wheelchair.
Though she went from an active person to one who is now paralysed from the waist down and registered blind, Annabelle doesn’t let it get her down and tries to remain positive.
The 31-year-old, who lives with husband Danny in Long Crendon, said: “I always try to maintain a sense of humour and never say ‘why me?’ because why shouldn’t it be me?
“My friends and family have been amazing and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without their help, love and support.”
Within days of being discharged from hospital, a determined Annabelle was back working as an assistants logistics manager in Westcott, Aylesbury, and says her employers have been fantastic.
She said: “I have a large screen with magnifying software so I can see what I’m doing, and I work on the ground floor with easy-push doors so I can get around.”
NMO is such a rare illness that Annabelle says there is not currently the level of awareness or enough money for research.
Though the future is uncertain, the brave Annabelle remains hopeful.
She said: “They say it is incurable, but I say never say never. One day my illness will go and I will see and walk again.”
For more information on Annabelle’s condition and the Guthy Jackson Foundation, visit the website at www.guthyjacksonfoundation.org.