A lecturer whose life was turned upside down overnight after she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder has called for greater awareness of the condition.

In March Charlotte Croft, of Ipswich, had awoken to chest pains and, following a visit to the GP, was diagnosed with costochondritis, or inflammation of the ribs. 

However the lecturer, who teaches English to speakers of other languages at West Suffolk College's site in Ipswich, was awoken again during the early hours of March 22 to an "horrific stabbing pain" shooting down her spine, which spread to her entire back and legs.

Ipswich Star: Charlotte Croft following her FND diagnosisCharlotte Croft following her FND diagnosis (Image: Charlotte Croft)

After extensive tests and a week-long hospital stay, during which Ms Croft became unable to walk without help, she was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND). 

Ms Croft said of her time in hospital: "Over the weekend, my health deteriorated. I couldn’t walk without help and felt lifeless and weak.

"My body felt like it was shutting down and there was no rhyme or reason as to why this was happening." 

FND affects the way the brain receives and sends signals around the body, and can occur for a variety of reasons, including high levels of stress or trauma. 

Symptoms vary in intensity from person to person but include arm and leg weakness and seizures are often accompanied by fatigue and pain. 

Ipswich Star: Charlotte Croft at her graduation for her masters degree last AprilCharlotte Croft at her graduation for her masters degree last April (Image: Charlotte Croft)

Ms Croft explained: "For me, my condition went from bad to worse when I started having spasms in my leg muscles.

"For a few days I couldn’t even wiggle my toes, and I completely lost movement in my right leg.

"I was one of the lucky sufferers of FND who was able to receive good support from specialists in Ipswich Hospital. I was able to walk with crutches and able to go home."

She has now been placed on a waiting list for physio and rehabilitation, and given medication to target the muscle pain. 

Ms Croft requires crutches or a wheelchair daily, can no longer drive and struggles to walk her dog, needing carers to help her. 

"My life has completely been turned upside down by this disorder, and I have lost my independence," she said. 

"Nevertheless, I am hopeful that I can use my experience with functional neurological disorder to educate others, and to positively overcome the issues not only I, but many others face from this disability.

"We need to push for further research into the condition as well as further training to better understand how we move forward with this.

"If anything, my story has taught me just how short and cruel life can be, so, I plead everyone to just make the most of what you have, and live everyday not knowing what tomorrow holds," she added.

Ms Croft said charity groups like FND Action are important for sufferers to meet others and connect with those going through the same thing. 

However, she said more funding is needed for medical research in the hope that one day a lifechanging breakthrough can be made.