Justin Bieber's 'life-altering' syndrome shared by Sudbury woman
- Credit: Yui Mok/Marie Hearn
A Sudbury woman who was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome in 2004 has praised Justin Bieber for documenting his experience with the condition, hoping it "raises awareness" of this rare illness.
The condition occurs when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears, which can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss.
Singer Justin Bieber posted a video to his Instagram account on Friday which announced that the facial paralysis down one side of his face had left him unable to perform.
Marie Hearn, 71, started her journey with the syndrome when she felt a "horrific" pain in the left-hand side of her head accompanied by an earache.
Beginning to feel extremely sick and dizzy, she suddenly realised that she was unable to shut her left eye.
Mrs Hearn said: "I was quite an attraction for the student doctors as I was a very rare case in West Suffolk Hospital."
She developed a weakness in her muscles called a facial palsy and was told by doctors that she only had a 50% chance of recovery.
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She added: "It was a very scary experience as this condition is potentially life-altering."
Mrs Hearn lost all balance and was unable to stand up or walk without a frame for a significant period of time.
Throughout the three weeks she remained in hospital, her face remained droopy and she had to have her left eye taped shut to prevent it from drying out.
To recover her balance, she was recommended a treatment in which she had to swing her head from left to right in a quick, snapping motion.
Mrs Hearn said: "Any trip to the shop was a nightmare as the artificial light affected my balance badly."
She also developed oscillopsia, a visual problem in which objects appear to jump, wiggle or vibrate when they aren't in motion, making her feel as if every step she took was on "a rollercoaster".
Most of those who suffer from Ramsay Hunt syndrome fully recover within a few weeks, but the damage Mrs Hearn experienced was more severe.
It took three months before she was able to drive a car as turning her head caused dizzy spells.
Eighteen years later, Mrs Hearn still suffers from bouts of dizziness when particularly tired.