Fighting Sarah’s vow to battle back from debilitating disorder

Sarah Notcliff, who has Functional Neurological Disorder, swam 2.5km with the use of only one arm to

Sarah Notcliff, who has Functional Neurological Disorder, swam 2.5km with the use of only one arm to raise money for Children in Need - Credit: Archant

Sarah Notcliff, from Tacolneston, was a very active young woman who enjoyed playing hockey, running and climbing - but one night she woke up unable to move her left arm and leg and her speech was slurred.

Sarah Notcliff on holiday before she was diagnosed with FND

Sarah Notcliff on holiday before she was diagnosed with FND - Credit: Archant

It was feared the 29-year-old had suffered a stroke and she was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) – an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms of neurological origin – and more precisely Functional Weakness – which can leave people unable to walk.

Miss Notcliff is now confined to a wheelchair and is only able to move one of her arms but has been told that the condition will eventually leave no permanent damage, but there is no time period on the recovery.

And although she says the condition is debilitating, it is the lack of understanding and help she has received from healthcare professionals that has upset the lab technician, who had only started working at the Sanger Institute, in Cambridge, a few weeks prior to her diagnosis.

She said: 'I was discharged from hospital with no brain scan, no forward care plan, and a diagnosis of FND that was given with no explanation apart from that it would get better.


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'This is not a disorder that I would wish on anyone and health care professionals should have a higher level of both awareness and understanding of this disorder. I feel sorely let down by the lack of help received from the NHS, and I speak for many others with the same disorder.'

Miss Notcliff is also studying a personal training course at the Open University, and has aspirations to be involved in sports in the future, but has had to put the course on hold because she is unable to do the practicals.

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Recently, she swam 2.5km with the help of a swimming woggle to support her trailing legs, and raised £130 for Children in Need.

She added: 'I am managing to return to work for two days a week with adapted duties, and the company have been more than accommodating.

'FND has thrown my life upside down, literally within hours. My immediate future is uncertain, and my life is on hold, but I hope that I can keep holding on to that bit of fight and determination to keep battling on with the support of my partner and my family.'

For more information about FND, visit http://www.fndhope.org/ or http://www.neurosymptoms.org/

Are you battling back from a major illness? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk

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