- Kirsty Brutnell, 24, was diagnosed her with incurable syringomyelia
- Condition involves cysts growing on the spinal cord, causing paralysis
- She was not eligible for surgery as cysts were so close to her brain stem
- Managed to train herself to walk short distances so she could do first dance
A young bride managed her first dance at her wedding despite being struck down with a paralysing spinal injury which doctors told her was incurable.
Kirsty Brutnell, 24, had been with her partner Adam, 28, for just three months when she woke one morning completely unable to use her legs.
Doctors diagnosed her with incurable syringomyelia – a condition which involves cysts growing on the spinal cord.
Brave: Kirsty Brutnell managed her first dance at her wedding despite being struck down with a paralysing spinal injury which doctors told her was incurable
Shock: Miss Brutnell, 24, had been with her partner Adam, 28, for just three months when she woke one morning completely unable to use her legs
In Mrs Brutnell’s case, the cysts were growing perilously close to her brain stem, ruling out the possibility of surgery to remove them.
Mrs Brutnell, a former mental health nurse of Sturminster Newton, Dorset, said: ‘I worried about what the diagnosis meant for me and Adam.
‘We hadn’t been together for that long and I thought, “he hasn’t signed up for this”.
‘I actually told him to leave me, even though I loved him. But he was having none of it.’
Mrs Brutnell met Adam, a carpenter, through online dating in 2011 and says it was love at first sight.
She said: ‘Internet dating brought me the man of my dreams. I moved away from West Moors in East Dorset to Parracombe in North Devon where he lived to start a new life together. It was a bit of a whirlwind.’
Condition: Doctors diagnosed Mrs Brutnell with incurable syringomyelia – a condition which involves cysts growing on the spinal cord
But then in April 2011, just two weeks after she relocated, she started to experience unsettling weakness in her lower body.
She said: ‘I collapsed at home. It was completely unexpected – it was as if my leg couldn’t hold me up anymore. I thought I was just tired, and hoped a night in bed would sort me out.’
But when she woke the next morning, she couldn’t feel anything below her hips at all.
An ambulance rushed her to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple where doctors diagnosed syringomyelia.
Syringomyelia sees a tube-shape cavity form and fill with liquid in the spinal cord.
Complications can be far reaching, including problems with pain, numbness, weakness, stiffness, control of bladder or bowel function, and paralysis.
Problem: In Mrs Brutnell’s case, the cysts were growing perilously close to her brain stem, ruling out the possibility of surgery to remove them
Cavities can get larger over time, exerting increased pressure, making symptoms worse.
However the damage can be halted and sometimes repaired with surgery.
But surgery was judged far too risky in Mrs Brutnell’s case because the cyst was so close to her brain-stem.
She said: ‘The doctors said although I could have physiotherapy to help me move again, I had a long road ahead, and if the cysts got any bigger, my paralysis could be permanent.
‘I thought it wasn’t fair on Adam to expect him to be my carer. We’d had loads of plans and it seemed we’d have to give them all up.
‘I told him to find someone else who he could live he dreams with and I promised I would understand.
‘When he came back to the hospital the next day, I knew he was devoted.’
Over the following months Mrs Brutnell learned to use an electric wheelchair and was able to train herself to walk short distances on crutches. In September 2013, the couple married.
Mrs Brutnell defied the expectations of doctors by managing to walk down the aisle, holding onto the arm of her grandfather, Brian, and enjoy her first dance.
Joy: Mrs Brutnell defied the expectations of doctors by managing to walk down the aisle and enjoy her first dance
She said: ‘Adam and I danced to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s song “It’s Your Love”. For one day I could forget about all our troubles.
‘I wanted to do something special for Adam. I built up my strength beforehand to make sure I had the energy to do it.
‘Despite all our challenges, I feel lucky. If I’m ever having a down day I can remember our wedding day, and know that I’ll have Adam with me, no matter what.’