Published: 06:00, 15 August 2020
| Updated: 07:48, 15 August 2020
A young woman left paralysed while working in Ibiza has spoken out about the difficulties she has encountered since living in a wheelchair.
Hayley Bray, 27, from Deal was working in a nursery within a 5* Spanish hotel when she was was struck down with illness, believing it was just a bladder infection.
But within 48 hours of being admitted to hospital, the former Dover Grammar School for Girls pupil had lost all feeling in her arms and legs and was heavily sedated.
Her family rushed from the UK to be by her bedside, and she spent a further eight months in various hospitals where she's had to learn to speak, read and write again.
She said: "I thought it was just a bladder infection.
"I was taken into hospital and that's pretty much the last thing I remember.
"Apparently I text my mum saying I couldn't feel my legs but I was so heavily sedated I don't remember this. I've had to learn to speak, read and write again, even how to brush my hair again."
It was only when Miss Bray accessed private healthcare that it was identified to be the ADEM virus - a rare kind of inflammation that affects the brain and spinal cord - which has caused her to be paralysed from the chest down.
Since June she has been able to live independently in a specially adapted bungalow, with the support of carers twice a day.
While her recovery is going well with three physiotherapy sessions a week, the former fitness fanatic who loved travelling has found getting out and about in her home town to be a real struggle.
"I cannot go to the places I used to go to because I can't get up to the tables or they don't have disabled toilets. I've just been so shocked."
She has commended businesses such as Deal Pier Kitchen and Costa where disabled access is good, but has spoken of other experiences where she has had to leave a restaurant to go home because the toilets weren't suitable.
She added: "It's also the pavements and the kerbs that aren't accessible.
"I don't think people are really aware and I'm finding that nobody really wants to listen. I think change is needed."
Chairman of transport and infrastructure committee on Deal Town Council, Cllr Ben Bano said: "We are very conscious of the difficulties over dropped kerbs and other obstacles faced by wheelchair users, scooter users and parents with prams in the town.
"We are actively working to audit the priority areas for action in collaboration with our neighbouring councils."
While Miss Bray was in hospital at Kent and Canterbury last September, her younger sister Sadie Bray helped her launch a GoFundMe appeal.
More than £20,000 was donated by friends, family and strangers to help with her recovery journey. This money has paid for a wheelchair and her physiotherapy so far.
Keen to keep making progress, she will soon be starting locomotor training, wide pulse stimulation and activity based physio.
She is also looking to do a sponsored 10k in her wheelchair to help fund this herself.
She said: "I'd like to say a massive thank you to people. I'm so grateful for every donation.
"I have my good days when I'm really motivated with my physio and I absolutely love it, but I have my down days because it is really hard adjusting to a new way of life.
"I find being dependant on people the hardest part as I used to be so independent. To have that just taken away from you was the worst part.
"But from what I've researched myself, other people with ADEM have made a recovery so there is still hope for me."
To donate towards Hayley Bray's rehabilitation, click here.