A WOMAN with a rare muscle-wasting condition will never be able to eat again after a year of shielding caused irreversible damage.
Tiffany Walker, 47, was left unable to do regular exercises and specialist therapies during the Covid lockdown and now she will soon have to be fed through a tube due to her rapid deterioration.
Tiffany, from Bournemouth, has a cruel condition called central core disease which makes her muscles rigid and stiff – and means it’s hard for her to swallow.
Before the pandemic hit, she remained active and would go swimming five days a week to keep her condition at bay and she also had regular face-to-face treatments with specialists.
But this came to an abrupt halt when she was forced to shield.
Speaking about the impact the pandemic has had on her, Tiffany told The Mirror: “For someone who’s extremely positive, it’s definitely taken me to a dark place.
“I can’t get back what I’ve lost.
“From swimming five times a week to absolutely nothing at all has taken its toll, and I can’t get that back.
“It’s done its damage, I worked very hard to be ahead of my disability, but you can’t claw back what damage has been done.”
In the early stages of the pandemic, Tiffany was severely ill for six weeks and she was left unable to eat.
“My throat muscles felt like I was being strangled and every breath felt like needles,” she said.
“During this time, I had no way of moving my muscles and the deterioration was so severe that I experienced irreversible damage.
“When I was seriously ill I thought ‘that’s it’, I just thought I couldn’t do it anymore.”
It’s done its damage, I worked very hard to be ahead of my disability, but you can’t claw back what damage has been done.
Tiffany has now been told she will soon need a peg feed – which will mean she is fed through a tube.
“A peg feed is now in my near future, that’s the one thing I’m very bitter about, it’s accelerated it,” she said.
“I’ve got to come to terms to never being able to eat again.”
A report by Muscular Dystrophy UK found that 68 per cent of Brits with muscle-wasting conditions said their physical health has been negatively affected by lockdown and shielding.
And 62 per cent said the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health.
“When I was finally able to stop shielding I felt sick to my stomach and very socially anxious,” Tiffany said.
“I’m really nervous that disabled people will once again be forgotten about. I feel I’m right back to the beginning and I’ll be terrified of leaving my house again in case I catch Covid.
“I hope the NHS and people in charge learn from this pandemic about how it continues to impact the disabled.”
Muscular Dystrophy UK’s chief executive, Catherine Woodhead, said: “Thousands of people living with a muscle-wasting condition have experienced significant deterioration in their overall wellbeing throughout the pandemic.
“Many services including specialist neuromuscular services referrals and diagnostics were halted or significantly reduced, leaving people with delayed diagnosis and no access to expert care.
“Consequently, many people living with these conditions have been unable to receive the full treatment and care they need and are at severe risk of faster progression of their conditions.”