Health & Fitness: Fit and healthy dad woke up paralysed on the same day wife went into labour

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A dad who went to bed feeling fit and healthy woke up paralysed and unable to move as his wife went into labour on the same day.

Dale Wilson, 31, from Wigton, says he was a fit and healthy man until he woke up next to his heavily pregnant wife in August 2018 and was unable to move his right arm or feel his leg. He was rushed to hospital where doctors told him he'd had a neurological episode, which can also be a sign of multiple sclerosis.

Dale said he was left feeling "helpless" as his wife, Hannah, 30, had gone into labour on the same day. He said after the episode he was left unable to lift the kettle to make his wife a cup of tea, never mind help care for his newborn Ralph and his brother Noah, then two.

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As well as being unable to lift one arm and dragging a foot while he walked, Dale's speech was affected too. However, the dad-of-three has now learned to fully walk and talk and use his paralysed harm.

He's been going to the gym and working hard to get back on track, despite being unable to lift a weight. But Dale didn't let that stop him and he's since gone on to win numerous bodybuilding competitions and works as a personal trainer, inspiring clients.

Dale said: "I am very proud. I did it for myself in some capacity, but it was also to show my boys that anything is possible in life. The paralysis and the diagnosis left me feeling so helpless.

"I couldn't even pick up the kettle to make a cup of tea. It was like my arm wasn't even there - I couldn't lift it.

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Dale said he felt helpless © Dale Wilson / SWNS Dale said he felt helpless

"When I was down, I needed something positive to focus on, and for me, that was the gym and getting stronger. Stepping on stage at the competitions was an amazing feeling and sharing my story of how far I've come - people can't believe it's the same person sometimes.

"I just wanted to make my family proud. I couldn't have done it without my wife and kids. If I can do it, you can do it too!"

It was August 2018 that Dale went to bed as normal but woke up with a dropped face and the inability to move his right arm or feel his right leg. He was rushed into the hospital where doctors performed a CT scan, an MRI scan, a lumbar puncture and ran blood tests.

While waiting for his results, Dale's wife Hannah went into labour. Dale, who lives with Hannah, a physiotherapist and sons Noah, five, Ralph, three, and Wilfred, one, said: "I think it was the stress of what had happened to me that made her go into labour, which I felt really guilty about.

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"Thankfully, Hannah and our son, Ralph, were fine. I walked from her maternity ward to the other end of the hospital where they diagnosed me."

Doctors ruled out lymphoma and an auto-immune disorder and ultimately diagnosed Dale with a clinically isolated syndrome. This is the term used to describe a single episode of neurological symptoms which doesn't have an obvious cause - like a fever.

It can be the first sign of what might become multiple sclerosis - a lifelong condition that affects the brain and nerves. Dale initially had to drag his numb right leg along the floor when he walked, because he couldn't feel it, and he could barely move his right arm.

Dale with his wife Hannah and their son Ralph © Dale Wilson / SWNS Dale with his wife Hannah and their son Ralph

He had to re-learn how to fully speak and write. He said: "I felt so helpless. I just wanted to help Hannah with our baby boy but I couldn't do anything.

"I couldn't even pick up the kettle to make myself a cup of tea, it was like my arm wasn't even there, I couldn't lift it. I lost my job and suffered really badly with depression and anxiety. It got to the point where I couldn't even leave the house, it was that bad.

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"I suffered with what felt like electric shocks for ages, and I still have a hazy memory, that's never changed. I felt for my wife, having to look after our boys basically on her own, and I really struggled."

After months of battling with his mental health because of his diagnosis and slowly regaining some strength in his arm, it was his friend Carl Mctear, 48, who dragged him to a nearby gym for a workout. Despite struggling to even lift a 2.5kg dumbbell, Dale enjoyed himself and kept going back to the gym and got stronger and stronger.

He started spending six days a week in the gym, training to become a bodybuilder, fitness model and personal trainer. Just two years after waking up paralysed, Dale walked the stage for Pure Elite model federation in November 2020 and won first place in the transformation category.

He went on to win first place in the over 80kg fitness model category at the UK Ultimate Physiques competition last October and first place in the over 75kg fitness model category at Pure Elite model federation last November. Dale now works as a personal trainer and often shares his experience with clients as a reminder to never give up.

He said: "When I was down, I needed something positive to focus on. I genuinely believe that having short term, medium term and long term goals are a fantastic distraction from what is going on in your life.

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"My short term goal after the paralysis was literally being able to use my hand and arm again properly. Just using a pen, making a cup of tea, opening a door.

Dale holding his son Ralph unable to move his right arm properly © Dale Wilson / SWNS Dale holding his son Ralph unable to move his right arm properly

"My medium term goal was driving my car, getting back in the gym and having the confidence to socialise again. Finally, my long term goal was becoming a pro fitness model and becoming a personal trainer - I've achieved all the goals I set after being diagnosed.

"My new long term goal is to one day win a pro show. I've hit the cross bar a couple of times and come second and third. I'll win one day - watch this space!

"There's no better feeling than achieving a goal that once seemed completely unattainable. If I can do it, you can too!"

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