Woman who fought back from ‘locked in’ syndrome going from strength to strength

Patricia Ingle: Her health has improved dramatically but she is still vulnerable, her father said. Picture: TV3
Patricia Ingle: Her health has improved dramatically but she is still vulnerable, her father said. Picture: TV3

The family of a young Limerick woman who came back from ‘locked-in’ syndrome having caught a serious infection from cleaning parrot cages have admitted they are stunned at her recovery.

In a new interview with TV3’s Ireland AM, screened today, Patricia Ingle, from Farnane, near the village of Murroe in Co Limerick, tells of her ongoing recovery from a rare airborne brain infection, chlamydia psittacosis, which can be transferred from birds to humans.

In a lengthy interview with the Irish Examiner last year, Patricia had outlined her plans for the future and of the obstacles she faced in coming back from a situation in which first she was expected to die and subsequently faced life in a vegetative state.

Instead, the improvement in the 24-year-old’s health has been dramatic, although in today’s interview with TV3 her father, Pat, admits that she is still “vulnerable”.

Pat Ingle said: “Each day is different now, especially over the last five years the way Trish is improving — the days are changing.

“She has come from being in a coma and locked in to giving speeches in UL [University of Limerick]. It’s fantastic, it’s always improvement. We just want to keep Patricia safe, she is very vulnerable,” he said, adding that the family were supporting her in her recovery so she gets the chance “to do the things that she wants herself”.

Patricia’s mother, Annette, said her daughter was gaining confidence in her abilities and that she had never lost her sense of humour.

Patricia’s days feature speech-and-language sessions and other treatments, and in the interview, she says that she has to work hard at activities that other people take for granted.

“You would be unaware that I would find something very hard that people would do without thinking,” she said. “Like walking to the kitchen — I would probably spend 10 minutes but people walk up and down like it’s nothing.”

Patricia’s legal case against her former employers and the HSE was settled on an interim basis in 2011 and she is back living with her family in Co Limerick.

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