CrossFit fan paralysed after getting flu vaccine
This CrossFit enthusiast was left paralysed after getting a flu shot, which left her in intensive care before she had to learn to walk again.
After signing up for the fitness regimen, substitute teacher Amaris Carlin quickly fell in love with the challenge of making her body stronger.
The 27-year-old went from deadlifting 10kg to being able to lift 90kg as she continually trained.
“I started CrossFit in July 2014 and immediately fell in love with it,” Amaris said.
“I sucked at basically everything and I couldn’t do a single pull-up. But over the years CrossFit became a sort of obsession.”
In September 2017 the New Yorker got the flu vaccine when it was offered at work.
A few hours later she noticed that she’d lost the feeling in one of her legs.
“Previous to my reaction to the flu shot in 2017 I’d only had the flu shot once eight years before.
“I had the flu shot in the morning. Eight hours later I realised I couldn’t feel one of my legs. I didn’t want to panic so I went to urgent care.”
Tests showed a notable loss of sensation in both legs.
She was then sent to the hospital but was turned away because they assumed she had pinched a nerve from CrossFit.
When she returned home, Amaris became increasingly tired and weaker.
Three days after being turned away from hospital she couldn’t even walk to her car and had to be carried by colleagues.
It took doctors a few days to diagnose Amaris with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) – a rare but serious autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells – as a result of the flu shot.
“I had numbness and tingling in my hands, feet and legs and there was also notable loss of sensation. I started out feeling somewhat fatigued. This turned into extreme weakness after three days.
“My co-workers had to drive me to the hospital. When I was in the ICU I also started having double vision issues as the muscles in my eyes got weaker.
“It took doctors a long time to diagnose me and there was actually some back and forth trying to decide if it was Transverse Myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord) or GBS.
“The most recent consensus was that it was an unusual form of GBS, potentially a strange presentation because I was previously an athlete,” she said.
Shortly after being admitted to hospital, Amaris was transferred to the ICU because she had trouble breathing and needed to be put on an oxygen machine.
Doctors began treatment to stop GBS progressing further.
She spent nine days in the ICU, but doctors said that if she’d had weaker lungs, GBS would have shut them down.
At her worst, Amaris had a quarter of her usual lung function.
She was treated for her condition relatively quickly, which helped her recovery.
But she lost a great deal of her athletic ability and spent seven weeks in a wheelchair.
Life was increasingly challenging, to the point where brushing her teeth was a difficult.
“Though I was very lucky as it could have been much worse, I was devastated.
“Not only did I lose my athletic ability, I struggled with simple tasks.
“Now, about 18 months later, I’m finally functioning like an average person. I’m in school full time and can’t wait for a future helping people learn how to walk again,” she said.
Amaris said she doesn’t take life for granted anymore.
“My life has so much more focus and passion because it’s not worth it to be stuck in a rut just living for whatever fun you can have on the weekend.
“I wake up each day, excited about what’s going to happen.
“To all those out there going through tough times: it might feel like you’ll never be able to get out of the place you’re in or maybe it will take much longer than you think.
“What matters is that you keep going when it’s hard and you don’t want to. Your life means something, even if you can’t possibly imagine what.”Sources: Magazine Features