A fun-loving holiday rep has been left barely able to breathe, move or see after developing a rare and incurable disease.
Natasha Lynch, 24, from Liverpool, is now paralysed from the waist down and blind in one eye, breathing through a ventilator and feeding through a tube.
She struggled for years with a series of crippling, mystery symptoms before finally being diagnosed with mitochondrial disease.
Happier days: Natasha Lynch, 24, from Liverpool, is now paralysed from the waist down and blind in one eye, breathing through a ventilator and feeding through a tube
It spelled the end of her dream job and promising career as a holiday rep for TUI, which owns Thomson.
Natasha, said: ‘The hardest part has been going from being so active to being bedbound in such a short time, relying basically on social media for contact with the outside world.
‘I have been unable to, and won’t ever be able to, breathe without my tracheostomy and ventilator.
‘It’s particularly hard watching my friends lives passing by and them somewhat forgetting I’m still here sometimes because I’m not ‘out there’ keeping up with them.
Tragic: Natasha won’t ever be able to breathe without her tracheostomy and ventilator
‘Also, physical health affects mental health, big time. It’s easy to fall into depression.
‘But it’s shown me there’s a lot more to life, more out there than your own little bubble. I’ve connected with people worldwide due to my illness, and I know I’ve supported many with their conditions too. That is part of what inspires me to keep going.’
She was back in the UK for training after spending two years working with children at resorts in Egypt and Lanzarote when she first became ill.
She said she began constantly fighting colds and tonsilitis, and noticed she was taking a long time to recover in late 2014.
She then contracted viral meningitis and had to take a break from work to be cared for by her parents, who were living in Spain.
She suffered several more catastrophic episodes of illness over the next few years, from temporarily losing her speech and memory to waking up one morning fighting for breath.
One doctor finally worked out that her rare group of conditions – myelopthy of the spinal cord, hemiplegic migraines and myasthenia gravis – might be down to mitochondrial disease
A series of doctors struggled to diagnose the roots of the problem, and she said even chemotherapy and a stint in a specialist rehabilitation centre left her in a worse state.
But one doctor finally worked out that her rare group of conditions – myelopthy of the spinal cord, hemiplegic migraines and myasthenia gravis – might be down to mitochondrial disease.
The condition is a complex one which affects everyone differently, according to the Lily Foundation.
Mitochondria all over the body give cells the energy to function, but in sufferers they do not work properly.
There is no cure for the condition, but Natasha’s family are fundraising for expensive medication that could improve and possibly extend her life.
You can find out more on the Lily Foundation website, and support Natasha’s Gofundme appeal here.