Man left paralysed months after tucking into cheese sandwich while on holiday

A dad has been left paralysed from the neck down after tucking into a cheese sandwich while away on holiday.

Malcolm Brown jetted off with his wife Janis to Turkey in September last year where he enjoyed the dairy-filled treat for lunch.

The 71-year-old was struck down by food poisoning which intensified after he got home to Scotland.

When his vision began to blur and his arms went numb, followed by a total loss of movement, Malcolm was rushed to hospital in Edinburgh.

There he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that he believes was triggered by some cheese bought from a supermarket.

The Scotsman came to the conclusion when he realised Janis had avoided the animal product and was fine, while a friend ate it and also fell ill.

“It’s unbelievable that he went from food poisoning to being paralysed for nine months,” Janis said.

“After three weeks in ICU he was transferred to rehab where he has been ever since.

“At first he couldn’t even sit up. He was lying flat on his back. He couldn’t do anything at all, he was totally helpless.”

When Malcolm got back from the holiday he complained of a pain in his knees and he had difficulty walking.

At first he put the soreness in his legs and tingling feeling in his fingers and toes down to dehydration.

When Malcolm stopped being unable to turn the shower on or off five days after getting home however, Janis took him to a doctor who immediately referred him to their local hospital.

There the retired engineer was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome before being rushed to the Royal Infirmary.

“A doctor said he needed to go to ICU because the infection will attack your heart and lungs,” Janis continued.

“He was blue-lighted to the Royal Infirmary. He said he had never travelled so fast in his life.”

Over the past nine months Malcolm has slowly been recovering in rehab.

Now he is able to stand up for short periods and walk with the help of a Zimmer-frame.

It is unclear if his long-term goal of getting back on the golf course will be possible however.

Malcolm’s illness has also been particularly difficult for his family because of the pandemic, which stopped his family from visiting for nine months.

Gain, a charity for people living with Guillain-Barre syndrome, advised Janis to get an Amazon Echo for Malcolm, which has allowed him to change the TV channel and make calls.

Now Janis wants to make people more aware of the rare condition which affects nerves and is triggered by an immune response.

“If you have sickness and diarrhoea, watch out for tingling feelings in your toes and fingers, and then get to the doctors right away,” Janis advised.

“Nobody would think that having food poisoning can cause it to happen.”

She has been running the equivalent distance between Lands End to John O’Groats, 874 miles, and has half a mile left but plans to walk it with Malcolm when he is able to.

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