A mother and daughter from Sedgebrook, near Grantham, have gone to a marathon effort to raise funds for a charity which helped them when their son and brother, Jonny, fell critically ill.
Samantha and Lucy Wade ran their own marathon from Nottinghamshire to Lincolnshire on last week to raise money for Headway – the brain injury association after it supported them when Jonny was diagnosed with a serious brain condition.
“Jonny’s story has inspired both Lucy and I to run this marathon. Brain injuries are referred to as hidden disabilities and we all need a bit more empathy and understanding of each other. If Jonny can get through all he has done in life, then we too can push ourselves to complete this challenge,” said Samantha.
“Not everyone can be a high achiever, but they can all fulfil their potential whatever that is, and Headway helps people with brain injuries to fight towards doing just that. We feel honoured to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.”
In 2006, Jonny, just three-years old at the time, was diagnosed with encephalitis, swelling on the brain. Young Jonny had caught chicken pox at nursery and started to show some unusual symptoms – he couldn’t sit upright, was vomiting and had nystagmus, a condition where his eyes moved involuntarily. Jonny couldn’t speak, swallow, walk or eat and was experiencing painful muscle contractions.
“At the time chicken pox was doing the rounds at his nursery – as it does,” said Samantha. “We weren’t all that concerned, but things started getting worse and worse, and I really started to worry about him. I would take him to the GP almost daily – begging for help.”
Jonny was in and out of the hospital constantly between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day of 2006, but Samantha and her family still had no answers about why he was so ill.
“We decided we needed to take matters into our own hands and did as much research as we could,” said Samantha. “We took him into our local hospital as he was getting dehydrated but couldn’t drink as he couldn’t swallow.
“Whilst there, I discussed matters with the doctor and he indicated a neurologist might be the way forward. A neurologist diagnosed Jonny’s condition over the phone and wheels were set in motion to be admitted to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where we had to be in a private room and use a side entrance due to the risk of infecting other seriously ill children there.”
Here, Jonny was made comfortable and given medication to stop the pain and help him sleep. An MRI scan revealed that lesions, areas of damaged tissue, had formed on his brain from an encephalitis attack.
He was given a course of steroids which he continued for eight weeks before being weaned off. When Jonny finally left the hospital after a month, he still couldn’t walk, talk, or do much for himself, but he was alive and for Samantha and the rest of his family, that was the most important thing.
“Life changed for all of us and we had to help and protect Jonny as well as integrating him back into normal life wherever possible,” recalled Samantha.
“He took his first steps in the bathroom on 13th March – almost ten weeks after he had lost the ability to walk. We were all overjoyed and he was able to demonstrate his newfound ability at school the following day in the school hall to much applause from staff and friends.”
Later on in life, Jonny, Samantha, Lucy and the rest of their family were supported by Headway. The charity’s range of publications on the effects of brain injury helped them to come to terms with certain changes and challenges.
For this reason, Samantha and Lucy decided to show their support for Headway by running their own marathon. The pair covered an incredible 27.06 miles in total, running along Grantham Canal from Nottingham Airport to Sedgebrook, and were cheered on by their friends and family along the way.
Samantha said: “The weather was exceptionally hot, meaning we had to have frequent stops to hydrate and cool down – it was energy sapping! The support of our friends and the people of Sedgebrook spurred us on to the finish and we are grateful to all of them.”
Lucy added: “I’m relieved it is all over – the regular training is quite time-consuming. We are both tired, but have a great sense of satisfaction having completed it and raised so much money.”
To show your support for Samantha and Lucy, and to help Headway continue supporting brain injury survivors like Jonny, donate via JustGiving.