Boy, 15, is left using a wheelchair after forgetting how to walk due to amnesia triggered when he suffered extreme pain following a routine operation to remove two ingrown toenails
- Andrew Penney, 15, from Winchester, had two ingrown toenails removed
- Suffered life changing complications which left him using a wheelchair
- Mother Linda, 52, revealed how the teenager had always had ‘sensitive feet’
- Explained that his life was ‘wiped’ by PTSD, saying: ‘He was in such severe pain’
A sporty teenager was left using a wheelchair after forgetting how to walk due to amnesia triggered when he suffered extreme pain after a routine operation to have two ingrown toenails removed.
Mother Linda Penney, 52, from Winchester, was horrified when her musical and active son, Andrew, then 14, was left in agony after having two toenails removed in October 2018.
Doctors were baffled after he was left ‘in incredible pain’ following the operation, struggling to put his feet on the ground and needing a wheelchair.
He was later diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, allodynia, with PTSD from the trauma ‘wiping’ his memory of the last 14 years of his life, with Linda explaining: ‘He was in such severe pain and was misunderstood which caused his mental health to deteriorate.’
Mother Linda Penny, 52, has described how her sporty son Andrew’s, 15, life was ‘wiped’ by PTSD after he was left using a wheelchair following surgery to remove two ingrown toenails (pictured, before the accident)
The teenager suffered lifechanging complications after having two ingrown toenails removed, with doctors baffled as to his level of pain
After months of recovery, he has now started playing wheelchair tennis which has helped him regain his confidence
In the summer of 2018, Andrew began suffering from two ingrown toenails that led to him being in severe pain.
The teenager loved sport and would regularly play golf, cricket, tennis and was the captain of the school table tennis team.
He was looking forward to trialling for the country cricket team and county level golf.
But that all changed for Andrew when he went in for the removal of the two ingrown toenails on October 2 2018 and had to receive a total of four injections.
The teenager was a sporty and active schoolboy and would regularly play golf, cricket, tennis and football before the accident (left, playing tennis, and right, enjoying a kickabout)
The teenager had ‘always had sensitive feet’ but doctors struggled to understand why he was in pain after the operation
WHAT IS COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME?
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a condition that causes extreme discomfort that does not ease.
It usually affects just one arm or leg following an earlier injury, such as a fracture or sprain with no nerve damage, or nerve damage to a limb.
The body’s reaction is much stronger than usual and often causes pain worse than the original injury.
CRPS’ exact prevalence is unclear, however, a study claimed up to one in 3,800 people in the UK develop the condition each year.
And in the US, between 5.5 and 26.2 people suffer from CRPS per 100,000 every year.
What are the symptoms?
Pain is the main symptom, which may be burning, stabbing, stinging or throbbing.
The affected limb is usually sensitive to touch, with even clothing causing agony.
CRPS also causes swelling that can lead to stiffness, limb weakness and jerky movements. Joints may also appear redder or warmer than usual.
Many CRPS patients become anxious or depressed.
What causes CRPS?
CRPS’ cause is unclear but is thought to be due to the nerves in the affected area becoming more sensitive, which may change the pain pathways between the limb and the brain.
Rarely, stroke or multiple operations to the limb can be to blame.
In one out of 10 cases there is no obvious cause.
What are patients’ treatment options?
There is no one treatment. Therapies aim to maintain movement through rehabilitation and pain relief.
This may include physio and occupational therapies, coping strategies and medications.
Source: Versus Arthritis
Linda explained: ‘The operation to remove ingrowing toenails is done when you’re awake, they put two injections into the base of your toe and I think something must have gone wrong with one of those injections.
‘Following that operation, Andrew was in incredible pain.’
She went on: ‘He has always had sensitive feet and no one could understand why or how much pain he was in.
‘Paracetamol wouldn’t work and it got to a point where he was hitting his head on the wall out of frustration.
The youngster was looking forward to trialling for the country cricket team and county level golf ahead of the accident (on the cricket pitch)
After the accident his mother revealed how she had little option but to buy her son a wheelchair to help him cope with the pain
Andrew was passed from consultant to consultant but Linda said nobody ‘seemed to know what to do’ to help him
‘He was passed from consultant to consultant; no one seemed to know what to do.’
What is dissociative amnesia?
Dissociative amnesia is a type of dissociative disorder that involves inability to recall important personal information that would not typically be lost with ordinary forgetting.
It is usually caused by trauma or stress.
Diagnosis is based on history after ruling out other causes of amnesia.
Treatment is psychotherapy, sometimes combined with hypnosis or drug-facilitated interviews.
There are three different types:
- Localized amnesia involves being unable to recall a specific event or events or a specific period of time; these gaps in memory are usually related to trauma or stress. For example, patients may forget the months or years of being abused as a child or the days spent in intense combat. The amnesia may not manifest for hours, days, or longer after the traumatic period. Usually, the forgotten time period, which can range from minutes to decades, is clearly demarcated. Typically, patients experience one or more episodes of memory loss.
- Selective amnesia involves forgetting only some of the events during a certain period of time or only part of a traumatic event. Patients may have both localized and selective amnesia.
- In generalized amnesia, patients forget their identify and life history—eg, who they are, where they went, to whom they spoke, and what they did, said, thought, experienced, and felt. Some patients can no longer access well-learned skills and lose formerly known information about the world. Generalized dissociative amnesia is rare; it is more common among combat veterans, people who have been sexually assaulted, and people experiencing extreme stress or conflict. Onset is usually sudden.
Most patients are partly or completely unaware that they have gaps in their memory. They become aware only when personal identity is lost or when circumstances make them aware—eg, when others tell them or ask them about events they cannot remember.
‘His feet were swelling, they were multi-coloured and he couldn’t bear weight on his right foot at all. Eventually he was diagnosed with CRPS.’
‘In March 2019, after a series of tests in Southampton Hospital, we finally started to get the help that we really needed; Andrew’s pain was taken seriously and he felt that people were finally starting to understand how he felt. Sadly, no one knows why this has happened.’
Since then it has been a battle for Linda to get answers about her son’s extreme pain and she says she had no other choice other than to buy him a wheelchair.
She added: ‘The doctors have done tests to say there is no physical reason why he can’t walk. He’s had an MRI scan but no one knows why this has happened.’
And she explained that the impact of the injury was not just physical, with Andrew’s memory suffering severely due to the experience.
Linda explained: ‘He is unable to remember anything before receiving a therapy cat in early May 2019. He effectively lost 14.5 years.’
‘I did a lot of research to find out what had happened. I found out that Andrew’s memory loss was due to dissociative amnesia which displays itself as PTSD.’
And the family have no idea if he will ever be able to walk again.
She explained: ‘He’s scared to even try to get the bad foot near the floor. With no memory of ever walking – it’s impossible to judge.
‘I hope he will be able to stand or balance on 2 feet one day but I think he will always limp even if he did manage.
‘It is cruel and strange. Some kids manage to get walking again only to relapse back to wheelchairs.
‘They don’t however have the extensive memory issue he does. His illness is rare and the combination even rarer I’m told. Without that internal motivation it’s hard to even try.’
She said: ‘He was in such severe pain and was misunderstood which caused his mental health to deteriorate. But seeing him hit that tennis ball made me realise that he can do this.’
But despite his ordeal, Andrew, now 15, was recently accepted into the LTA’s National Junior Wheelchair Programme after months of training.
The teenager, who has suffered severe PTSD from the experience, has gone on to spend months learning about wheelchair tennis
Andrew was ‘extremely anxious’ about entering tournaments, but his trainer encouraged him to enter a competition in London
Linda explained the family went to training ‘weekly’ and he quickly ‘progressed into a tennis wheelchair’.
She continued: ‘His trainer suggested that Andrew should try his first tennis tournament in London.
‘He was extremely anxious about going but he went on to win. I felt very proud but I also felt like a bad parent because I couldn’t help him.
‘I had a ray of hope that he could be someone and it gave Andrew the confidence that he could also do this.’
The teenager went on to win his match in the tournament, with his mother Linda saying the sport is helping him to rebuild his confidence
The youngster has now been accepted onto the LTAs National Junior Wheelchair Programme after months of training
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