WATCH: Avid athlete and soccer fan sidelined by devastating illness
A 22-year-old University of Victoria student has spent that last three months bedridden in hospital, at times only able to move her eyes, after being paralyzed by a horrible illness.
“It was terrifying,” says Darbi Aitchison from her Victoria hospital bed. “I couldn’t walk and the left side of my face had started to droop and I couldn’t close my eyes.”
It started with a bad headache and backache after a soccer game, then her fingers started tingling and within a week, Aitchison was completely paralyzed – only able to blink her eyes after contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“The nerves are attacked by the immune system after a stomach or a respiratory illness and we don’t know why it happens but it can cause paralysis throughout the body,” explains physiotherapist Scott Okrainetz.
The paralysis was so bad, Aitchison couldn’t talk and needed a ventilator to breath and for the last three months, she’s been undergoing intensive, and very painful, physio therapy.
“There was a rejoice when I could stick my tongue out,” Aitchison says.
A big soccer fan, the paralyzed UVic student had tickets to a FIFA World Cup game in Vancouver this weekend and now that she can sit up, the nurses at Victoria General’s ICU wanted to help make her dream come true.
“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s just had the most positive attitude and been such a fighter so we just knew we had to help this dream come true for her,” says nurse Sarah Yager.
The nurses started a Gofundme page, raising more than $4,00, and when we told Air Canada about Aitchison’s story, the airline offered to cover the flights so all the fundraising money can go towards the months of recovery she still has ahead of her.
As for what his ordeal had taught her?