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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Cumbrian woman in need of expert medical care launches online appeal

A young woman who says her life is being destroyed by illness has resorted to an internet appeal to raise the funds she needs to see medical experts.

Sammy Armstrong photo
Sammy Armstrong and mum Lesley Goodall

Sammy Armstrong, 23, suffers from a number of rare illnesses that are progressively worsening and leaving her bed-bound. She dreams of being a teacher but had to pull out of a university course because her health deteriorated.

After seeing numerous doctors at NHS hospitals, she claims they either do not know what is wrong with her or say they can’t do anything to help.

Sammy, who says her life is slowly wasting away, now feels her only hope is to pay privately to see leading UK experts, and has launched an online appeal to help cover the costs.

She also hopes to raise enough money to buy a wheelchair she says she needs.

Sammy, of Hethersgill, between Longtown and Brampton, suffers from a long list of health complaints including Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a debilitating, painful condition that affects her joints and mobility, and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which affects her heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing and causes her to faint. She also suffers from kidney problems that remain undiagnosed.

“It’s definitely getting worse. The last couple of years I’ve got to a stage where I am pretty much house-bound. It’s very hard. I’m 23 and have no real social life. I had to quit my teaching course – that was really hard,” said Sammy.

“But with the right help I hope to get to a level where I could at least work with children, even if it’s just part-time. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do with my life.”

Because Sammy is so tall – 6ft 2in – and has very long limbs, it adds to her problems.

She claims the NHS wheelchairs she’s had are not the right size or supportive enough for her frame. It’s so uncomfortable she can only bear to use one for about 10 minutes, meaning she rarely leaves the house.

Mum Lesley Goodall said they have been battling with Sammy’s health for years.

“She’s always had a lot of aches and pains but was told initially it was just growing pains. She’s a very stoic character so I don’t think even I realised how much pain she was in,” she explained.

“When she was 16 she started getting terrible back pain that stopped her in her tracks. She’s had all sorts of scans and tests.”

Although doctors have had some success with diagnosing her illnesses, treating them is another issue. And it is here that the family feel they have run out of options.

“Her life is drifting away from her. You wait three or four months to see someone, then wait for them to get back to you and suddenly a year has passed. We need something to happen now,” said Lesley.

“She has lost faith in the NHS. She’s deteriorating before our eyes. She wants to live but at the moment she is just existing, and in a lot of pain.

“Please do not let the rest of her life drain away like this.”

Sammy’s sister Emily recently published a blog about her struggles, which generated more than £200 in donations via the website. Travis Perkins in Carlisle has donated equipment to improve Sammy’s quality of home life.

The family are also planning some fundraising events. To find out more about Sammy, visit http://sammyarmstrong.jimdo.com.

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