The Art of NMO – Julie Davis

Like many sufferers of NMOSD back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Julie Davis was initially misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  That was in 2000.

In March 2002, after a motor accident, Julie was admitted to hospital in Southampton as she had lost the use of her legs. When she was finally discharged, on 5th June 2002, she was told that she would only be able to walk with the aid of a Zimmer frame. Like many people affected by NMOSD, Julie wouldn’t just accept that. By April 2003 she had, to a certain extent, regained the use of her legs and was able to walk again, unaided.

NMOSD is a cruel illness and its varied side-effects, affecting the spinal cord and optic nerve, can cause a relapse at any time. In October of 2003 Julie had a relapse and became paralysed, leading once again, to her being admitted to hospital. At this point, as with many contemporary sufferers of NMOSD, her medical diagnosis was still that of MS.

On 15th December 2003, things went from bad to worse for Julie as she was rushed into hospital on a blue light, unable to breathe. She was immediately placed into intensive care with complete failure of both her respiratory and digestive systems. We can only imagine the traumatic time that Julie, her husband Roger, and their family went through during this very dark period.

Julie obviously, and thankfully, recovered, and at that time she was given the diagnosis of Devic’s syndrome or Devic’s disease as it was then known, from the name of Dr Eugene Devic (1858-1930) who first described it.

In March 2004, Julie was sent for rehabilitation to Haslemere Hospital which was, to say the least, a very upsetting period. Along with a lack of understanding of her condition and inadequate nursing support, she found that the sleeping facilities were, at best, sub-standard. This was not to be Julie’s only experience at Haslemere. After yet another relapse in August 2004, and following another month in Southampton Hospital, she was sent back there again. This time she was given the devastating news from her Physiotherapist that she would not improve, and the recommendation of her being placed in a full-care facility nursing home was made.

Thankfully, Roger was having none of that. With the help of Julie’s Consultant and her GP, they worked together to get her a bed in Odiham Cottage Hospital and in November 2004, finally, a move to Fleet Elderly Rehabilitation Hospital, where both the nursing care and Physiotherapy were, in Julie’s words, second to none.

Julie began to improve, both in mind and body, and continued to do so until her eventual discharge in April 2005.  Julie admits that as a quadriplegic there were obvious serious concerns about being at home alone at certain times, as she still had difficulties using cutlery and doing other tasks that most of us would take for granted. With steely determination, she not only came through it all, but excelled, to produce the artwork featured in The Art of NMO.

Unfortunately, Julie relapsed in 2010, losing the sight in both eyes for eight months. But once again, with guts, determination and a healthy diet of naturally anti-inflammatory food, such as raspberries and cheese (which she still eats a lot of), she returned to her brushes and pencils.

You just cant keep a good woman down!