Getting one’s ears pierced normally only comes with the promise of momentary pain and years of sparkly earlobes. But after 15-year-old Grace Etherington went to get her ears pierced she became paralyzed and lost her ability to speak and breathe on her own.
The British teen’s new piercing got infected so badly that within days she developed Guillian-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. The paralysis it causes can either be partial or complete, and so much of Etherington’s range of motion was lost that she had to blink to communicate with her mother while she was in the hospital. But even that level of control over her body didn’t last for very long — Etherington started to deteriorate right in front her mother’s eyes.
The disorder caused Grace to lose feeling and movement in her legs and her face, interfering with her ability to speak until she could only slur her words. Later, her respiratory system stopped working properly, leaving her choking and unable to breathe without a ventilator … The teen was in a coma for two days as her lung collapsed and some of her other organs began to shut down, the Mail said.
While her case was grim, the good news is that if Guillian-Barre is caught early enough, patients can make a full recovery. Etherington, who is a dancer, managed to do just that. Her family was worried that she’d never be able to walk again, but she’s gotten so much better that she was recently able to dance in London’s West End.
This certainly doesn’t happen every time someone swings by a Claire’s to get holes punched into their ears, but we’re hoping it’ll be a cautionary tale to ensure the people who are putting holes in your body are surgically clean and know what they’re doing.
[Via AOL Health]