SOME of his students might not feel the same, but maths teacher Luke Wood couldn’t be happier about the start of the new school term.

After all, it’s been a long time coming.

Since he started his teacher training three years ago he has been completely paralysed, almost died and recovered.

And he says he’s glad it happened.

Luke, 27, of Chandlers Ford , noticed his feet were dragging one Friday while he was on a teaching placement in 2010.

That evening, a friend drove him to Sheffield for a wedding.

The following day his symptoms had worsened. He couldn’t lift a kettle and when he sat down to type his fingers wouldn’t hit the keys.

A call to NHS direct resulted in an ambulance being sent to take him to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

The next day he was in intensive care.

He was quickly diagnosed as having Guillian-Barré syndrome.

This is a disorder that affects the nervous system, usually triggered by an infection. Rather than attacking the foreign body, the immune system begins attacking body tissue and can be fatal. Paralysis creeps up the body, starting with the hands and feet and working towards the head before, in most cases, the body recovers from the top down.

Luke’s whole body was affected, including his vision, and he was put on a ventilator and given a tracheotomy.

“On the first Wednesday, I woke up in intensive care and couldn’t move my hands or arms. I realised at that point that that was it until it had gone all the way up and back down,” says Luke.

“I don’t think I was frightened. I think it can be more worrying for people watching it than it is for you. I don’t even remember being frightened on the worst day, when I nearly died. My system was going haywire and my blood pressure plummeted.

“There was one of those emergency calls and suddenly there were all these new faces around me. Theoretically, that would be the scariest thing but I’m a Christian and some Bible verses stuck with me which I found comforting and I knew I was in the best place possible.”

Luke’s parents were told there was a chance he might not live and through their church contacts they arranged for a huge number of people to pray for him, which he took great comfort in.

He was so badly paralysed that he communicated through clicks and a letter board.

He says that at this time loneliness was his biggest issue.

“You are on your own in there. No one can penetrate that. It’s made me much more willing to let things go,” he says.

Perhaps surprisingly, Luke says he found his condition funny, and always tried to make a joke about it, crossing his eyes when it was the only movement he could make and joking about people liking his ‘trachy’ – his tracheotomy.

“To be honest I found the whole thing quite funny,” he says.

“I didn’t find accepting it that difficult and I think that helped me to stay positive.

After a couple of weeks there was usually something I could be grateful for.”

Luke was moved from Sheffield to Southampton General Hospital by ambulance and spent around three months in intensive care before being moved to a rehabilitation ward for three months. His mother stayed at his bedside while he was in intensive care and after he came out of hospital his father gave up work, retiring from his job on the board of directors at an engineering company, so he could focus on Luke’s rehabilitation.

Today, Luke is still not completely better but he is improving all the time.

His feet are in constant pain, he tires easily, has trouble regulating his temperature and has an uneven walk.

But none of this has stopped him starting work as a teacher at Wyverne College in Fair Oak .

“A lot of people assume that because I’m at work it means I’m fully fit but I just enjoy teaching so much that I’m willing to make the extra effort for it.

Everything I do I consider to be therapy, even being at work.”

A further part of that therapy is training for the Great South Run in Southsea on October 28.

He is raising money for the Guillian- Barré Syndrome Support Group, the Wessex Neurological Centre Trust and Neurocare.

“At my worst point I decided I would one day run the London Marathon to raise money for research into GBS and for the organisations who had cared for me, and as I have progressed this has remained my goal. The Great South Run 5k is the next step in my journey,” he explains.

Despite everything he has been through and his continuing difficulties, Luke says he is glad he had Guillian- Barré syndrome.

“It’s completely changed my appreciation of life,” he says.

“I would probably take myself way too seriously otherwise.I’m glad it happened.

I look more for the good that I can do now.

“My life is incredibly exciting now. I’m doing a job I love in a highly supportive and friendly environment . In a way, this is where I can pick up on my old life but it doesn’t really feel like that.

“Life never goes back to normal. You just end up with a new normal and it’s exciting to see what that will look like.

It’s exciting to see what recovery there is left to go.”


*To sponsor Luke, visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.

com/ MrLukeWood.

*For details about Guillian-Barré syndrome, visit or call 0800 374803.