'Mum, I think I'm dying': Popular tutor's shock diagnosis
"SHE just said 'Mum, I think I'm dying'."
It's been barely a week since Delwyn Shepherd-Frame and her daughter, Kiri Shepherd had their lives turned upside down.
What doctors initially thought may have been a tick bite turned out to be a devastating diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome for Kiri, a popular 42-year-old tutor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Delwyn recounted the terrifying lead-up to the diagnosis.
She said Kiri complained of a headache last Monday night, which persisted until Tuesday, when pins and needles began breaking out all over her body.
By last Wednesday the pins and needles had become numbness and she was struggling to talk.
"It was like she was getting paralysis in her mouth," Delwyn said.
"She couldn't walk."
Doctors first suspected a tick bite, Vitamin B12 deficiency or even a stroke.
"The next day she thought she was dying," Delwyn said.
"It was frightening."
Kiri returned to the doctors on Thursday, who told her she could be getting Multiple Sclerosis, but an MRI scan showed up clear.
So she was wheeled into hospital Friday where she declared she was "not leaving here until you tell me what's wrong with me".
Lumbar punctures were taken and doctors advised they were all but certain Kiri had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
Delwyn said they'd been told the Sunshine Coast University Hospital only dealt with about three cases a year and the average recovery time for the nerve cells to rebuild was about four months.
But some cases were up to two years or more and in rare cases, sufferers never fully recovered.
They had no indication of how long Kiri's recovery would be, but Delwyn said her daughter had shown some positive signs and there was hope she might be taken off a ventilator in the next few days.
She was placed in the intensive care unit as she suffered asthma and was unable to breathe on her own.
Kiri was undergoing physio twice a day and was being given medication to boost her immune system and fight the condition, which was usually triggered by a viral or bacterial infection.
"She'll need speech therapy as well," Delwyn said.
It was another blow for Kiri in what have been a difficult past few years.
The triple-degree holder who'd hoped to complete a PhD next year had moved to the Glass House Mountains with her mother, to help Delwyn recover from cancer after a diagnosis three years ago.
Kiri had been helping look after her mother, working on their 1.2ha property and taking care of Delwyn's wheelchair-bound father, before she was struck down by the rare condition.
"She's always been there, she's always been a good support," Delwyn said.
"She's very popular, she's always given to people."
A fundraiser has started for Kiri, in a bid to help her pay her bills while she had reduced income and Delwyn, a pensioner herself, tried to secure power of attorney to help organise her daughter's finances while she recovered.