Heather Holderness, from Padiham in Lancashire, is 36-years-old, wife to Stu and mum to seven-year-old Hollie, and until last autumn was leading a relatively ‘normal’ life until the day she woke up unable to see or move.
“I thought I’d had a stroke,” says Heather. “I can’t really remember how it started but I could just feel something creeping over my face. I had that on my face for a few nights it was like a crawling on my skin, the third night I just couldn’t communicate at all.
Heather’s sister, Evie was on hand and whisked her to the A&E department.
“After we’d been to A&E, they sent to me to Specsavers, as they couldn’t find anything wrong. Obviously, I had no joy there, because it was my brain that was the issue and not my eyes. Then I started feeling ill at work. I can’t really describe it other than I felt like I was going under water, that would come and go. The first paralysis and speech effect was around November 2020. It was Christmastime, and while most of us were receiving gifts bringing happiness and joy, Heather received her diagnosis.
Heather was identified has having Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) the UK’s most common disease that not many know anything about…until now.
“The results came on the spot, as soon as I walked in, they did a few tests on me and went through the symptoms. I’d never heard about it before I’d seen the neurologist,” says Heather.
Functional Neurological Disorder neurological symptoms including limb weakness, paralysis, seizures, walking difficulties, spasms, twitching, sensory issues and more.
The basic wiring of the nervous system is intact, but there’s a problem with how the brain/nervous system is ‘functioning’, and how the brain fails to send and receive signals and messages correctly. Heather’s main symptoms are her speech and limb paralysis.“I can feel it creep across my face and then my limbs go dead. I’m lucky I can feel it coming on so I can predict it.”
Heather continues to keep smiling despite her recent challenges, and supported husband Stu, when he had a pacemaker fitted recently due to Sarcoidosis began affecting his lung and then heart.
“It’s been more of the unknown for Hollie. Whenever somebody goes to the hospital or dentist, she doesn’t like it. She thinks something bad will happen, she’s going to the dentist tonight and she really doesn’t want to go! In herself she’s completely fine and full of sass. She’s such a character, daft as a brush!”
Hollie certainly sounds like a real character, so we couldn’t resist interviewing her…
She certainly didn’t disappoint…
Hollie Holderness from Padiham chats to Family magazine about a few of her favourite things..
I go to Padiham Green. My favourite lesson is art and music. I like art because it’s fun to draw. I like music because I love to sing. I’m really good at it as well. I like singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Five Little Ducks.
I like to play out, sometimes if it’s a really nice day, and we’ve all been good the teachers say we can go into the junior yard. We see butterflies, we always see white cabbage butterflies int he field with lots of flowers.
What makes you laugh?
Sometimes I laugh when I think of school. We have a song at school for the times table, and the person that was singing it, his trousers fell down!
I used to have a Whoopee cushion, that my elf got me for Christmas, sometimes I play pranks, when my parents are talking to each other, I’ll put it on the seat when they sit down!
What makes your parents happy?
When I tidy my room and when I get good grades at school. What cheers my dad up is when I’ve been a good girl and try my best. He is happy when I craft him stuff. A few days ago, I made us both a little sheep. We have matching sheep, his is purple mine is pink.
Favourite thing to do?
My friends and chocolate cake. I like how I am a little bit crazy. Sometimes I like to put bows in my hair, I have some new ones from the girl across the street gave me, his grand daughter has loads of Jojo Siwa bows. She said she’s too grown up for them now so she’s given them to me. I’ve got two in right now! I have tonnes of them, a box of them! I even got a box of them for Valentine’s day.
On Valentine’s day I got a secret card posted through my door, it had a heart with a question mark inside. I think it may have been from my Baby Yoda doll. It might be him that wrote the card to me. Sometimes, he comes to life. One day he put my teddy bears dress and crown on while I was at the toilet! Mum didn’t do it, Dad didn’t do it, of course I didn’t do it! It’s very weird and I was freaking out.
If you had a million pounds…
I’d give some to the poor and become a singer. I would sell stuff like Jojo bows and lip glosses.
I love pizza, I had it a few days ago! From Dominoes… Hawaiian pizza, with pineapple and ham. I like ice cream with jam and sprinkles on.
I love pink! Pink flamingos, pink shoes, pink t-shirt, pink everything on me.
Giraffes are my favourite animals, they’re so pretty. And they have such cute little baby giraffes.
What do you love about weekends?
Going to my grandparents’ house. When I’m at my grandma and granddad’s, if I’ve been a good girl, they give me rice pudding with jam!
Don’t tell my mum this, Auntie Evie is getting me something, called Heelies, but mum told her not to. On my birthday, me and Auntie Evie are going on a trip to a science museum and and we’re going to try archery, you can play and have cotton candy and win prizes! Don’t tell my mum…it is not suitable!
What do you want to be when you’re older?
A singer, a dancer. I want to look after plants too, and give homes to animals.
The things you love about mum
I like how she is really inventive and she tries really hard.
One of my BFFs is Eden. She lives across the road from me and one day I made her a doll in a green dress because her favourite colour is green. She texts me, and I text her. This is so we can remember each other.
Another of BFFs is Scarlett. There’s things I need to tell you about Scarlett still! When she was a baby, she had a problem with her heart and had to go to the doctors. She speaks a bit differently, she’s my best friend. Sometimes she hugs and kisses me. She’s really fun. One day when we were playing out on the field, she played zombies with me, it was crazy! I’ve got great friends.