A dental receptionist whose dog helped her to walk again after a rare autoimmune disease left her paralysed has revealed how, 10 years later, she returned the favour and kept her precious pooch mobile with physiotherapy sessions. When an attack of pins and needles in her left foot developed into a terrifying attack of rare Guillain-Barré syndrome – a condition where the immune system attacks the nerves – Gerri Hickman, 42, was temporarily paralysed from the chest down. Hospitalised for six months, Gerri, of East Preston, West Sussex, turned to her faithful four-legged friend for support when she had to relearn how to walk, saying: “If it hadn’t been for my partner in crime, Tilly – a Jack Russell-cross – I would never have been up and about again a year after my diagnosis.” VIDEO But a decade later, it was time for her to return the favour when her devoted dog was diagnosed with chronic ligament disease of the right shoulder and needed six months of intensive physiotherapy. Gerri, whose husband, Stewart, 48, is a plumber, said: “It was tough seeing Tilly go through so much – she’s an old bird after all. But, in a way, it felt like we had come full circle.” The animal lover’s own problems started in January 2008, with the onset of pins and needles in her left foot, which she told Stewart, who she met online in 2005, she thought had been caused by lacing her shoes too tightly.
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