A YOUNG woman who has been made a prisoner in her own body by a medical condition is appealing for help to realise her dream of walking down the aisle.
Pub manager Ruth Haslam’s life was turned upside down in January when she suffered a stroke which caused her to develop cerebromedullospinal disconnection, commonly known as ‘locked-in syndrome’.
The 24-year-old, who is being treated in a hospital in Leeds, has been barely able to move for the past nine months and relies on blinking to communicate.
But after discovering technology which allows her to type using eye movements, the former pub manager is rallying support for a fundraising campaign which will allow her to continue rehabilitation at home.
Miss Haslam, from Nottinghamshire, said: “Before I got this Eyegaze literally all I could do was lay here but now its brilliant keeping in touch with friends like I would normally.
“I tell my occupational therapist that he can’t drive a wheelchair and I make my physio dance to Beyoncé in the middle of the ward.”
This new means of communicating has allowed Miss Haslam to keep in touch with friends via social networking site Facebook.
It is there where she encourages people to help ‘Raise the roof for Ruth’ to fund specialist equipment and extra therapy she may need to help her on the road to recovery.
Friends and family hope to raise enough to allow her to return home by Christmas.
Her ultimate goal is to be able to marry devoted fiance Tom Whitaker, who visits her at the rehabilitation unit in Chapel Allerton every day. Each Friday, the pair share a curry together.
“Tom has been unbelievable doing everything he can for me, its also hard for him,” she said.
“He says he’s going to propose again because lying in a hospital bed is not exactly romantic, but he does everything to make me feel special.”
While life with locked-in syndrome is a far cry from the world she knew, watching rugby and playing cornet in a band, her determination to bounce back has been an inspiration to those around her.
Father Alan Haslam said: “Her spirit and attitude these past nine and a half months has been amazing.
“Ruth is a bright girl and so popular, which has been shown in the brilliant support she’s received.”
Patients who suffer from Miss Haslam’s condition have described it as feeling as though they are buried alive.
Best friend Becky Woods, 23, said: “She is exactly the same person as she was before the stroke.
“She’s intelligent, she’s outgoing, she’s witty — she laughs, she cries — she’s the same girl just locked in her body.
“She’s unbelievable, nothing fazes her. No matter what is thrown at her, she just keeps going and going.”
Miss Woods is also a regular visitor to the Leeds hospital and is helping to publicise the ‘Raise the roof for Ruth’ campaign, which has seen friends, relatives and well-wishers do everything from sponsored runs to selling cushions in the quest to raise cash towards her rehabilitation.
She added: “She takes every step at a time, and were hoping to get her home before Christmas. But to do that she needs support equipment at home to continue her treatment.”
Details of the fundraising campaign can be obtained via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Facebook page ‘Raise the roof for Ruth’.