A Preston woman’s comment on a Blog Preston Facebook post has sparked a random act of kindness from a stranger.Advertisement
Jess Hopwood, who lives at Derby Lodge Residential Care Home, has Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a medical condition in which the brain doesn’t connect properly with the nervous system. Jess was diagnosed with the condition in 2018 while studying at UCLan, after a seemingly-innocuous sneeze left her with two prolapsed discs in her spine.
Jess moved to Derby Lodge after spending eight months in hospital and rehab. She commented on the Facebook post suggesting her care home should be added to an initiative for tackling loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Read more: Send a card to a Preston care home to help tackle loneliness during the pandemic
Unknown to Jess, local woman Becky Benton saw the comment, and was inspired to write to Jess.
Jess, who has been in lockdown at the care home since 13 March – with her family living 25 miles away in St Helens – said: “Becky is a complete stranger who took the time out of her day to send me a letter and a lovely handmade rainbow.
“It was a total surprise, and I was confused at first as I hadn’t ordered anything. When I read the card it made me cry. Lockdown is tough, and to get something like that from someone you don’t know means so much.
“It really brightened my day as I couldn’t believe someone had done that for me. I was so happy, showing all the carers and residents, and it still sticks with me now.
“I’ve ordered a frame for the rainbow and I’m excited to hang it up.”
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Jess was in the second year of a Psychology degree at UCLan when the accident happened. Still aged just 22, she is the youngest in her care home by about 20 years.
While FND affects everyone differently, for Jess her symptoms imitate MS and Parkinson’s, and she can’t currently use her legs and left arm.
Jess said adapting to her disability has been a struggle.
“I always liked to be on the go, and was working at Primark when the accident happened, which was great for me as I was always busy. Then all of a sudden to go to not being able to do anything – it’s been an ongoing battle.”
Jess has been keeping herself occupied during lockdown by creating a scrapbook with other residents. Once restrictions lift, she has plans to return to study.
“I’m looking forward to lockdown being over. I’m not quite ready for uni, but I have applied for a make up course at college to get back into education slowly.
“It’s funny, I was studying psychology so I could work with people with special needs, and now I’m in a home with them. I do take a hands-on approach with the other residents, so in a way it’s experience.”
Jess is now on a waiting list for a 12-week rehab course with a neurologist in London.
“At the moment I’m like a baby trying to learn to walk, but the condition is reversible for some people, because you can train the brain to reconnect back together with the parts of the body that don’t work. The place in London has more positive outcomes than negative.”
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What do you think of Jess’ story and Becky’s act of kindness? Let us know in the comments.