WALKING AGAIN: Rhonda Hodges was bedridden for 12 years.
WALKING AGAIN: Rhonda Hodges was bedridden for 12 years. Lachlan McIvor

Woman walks after 12 years of being bedridden

WHEN she wriggled her toes for the first time in more than a decade, Rhonda Hodges knew that a nightmarish 12 years was finally behind her.

The 61-year-old has a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome, which left her bedridden for more than a decade.

It affects just one in a million people and left Mrs Hodges' legs as "stiff as boards" on top of extremely painful spasms that made walking impossible.

After being told for years the symptoms were all in her head, Mrs Hodges was referred to Dr Saul Geffen. The specialist in rehabilitation medicine recognised the rare disease and organised for her to meet with neurologists at Brisbane's Mater Hospital.

They decided on surgery and successfully inserted a pump into her body which delivers small doses of the drug Baclofen directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. It proved to be life changing.

"I could move my toes, I thought that was just wonderful," she said.

There was still work to be done but Mrs Hodges did whatever it took to get better.

"I went over to the rehab unit at the Mater for three weeks and I had to learn how to walk again," she said.

Mrs Hodges can do more with each passing day, including getting the cows down from the hills of her Postmans Ridge property in the Lockyer Valley.

"I took my electric wheelchair halfway up and then I had to walk the rest of the way," she laughed. It's just wonderful, everything is back to normal."

Despite the pain getting progressively worse during the testing period, Mrs Hodges stayed in the right frame of mind.

The support from everyone around her was a big help.

"There was just so much positivity, it just made me grab on to it and work really hard to get better because I could see every day... I just got a little bit better," Mrs Hodges said.

She hoped her incredible recovery would inspire those suffering with the disorder to seek help.

"Even if they get a little bit of relief, it's better than being in bed," she said.

"If they get some relief, it will be great."

After Christmas, Mrs Hodges will fly to Townsville to see her grandchildren.

"I'll be able to take them anywhere, so I'm going to spoil them rotten," she said.



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