ORANGE BEACH, Ala. —
The first case of a mysterious disease in Alabama paralyzed a 5-year-old Orange Beach girl.
Annadelle Faulkner has AFM or Acute Flaccid Myelitis, which affects the nervous system.
For the past few months, she has been fighting for her life.
“She’s just been able to [stand up] for the past few days,” says her mother Neeli Faulkner.
Just recently, Annadelle is now able to support her own weight, but she is still not standing completely on her own.
Her case began with moderate symptoms.
“[I] picked her up on a Thursday. [She] had a headache, very slight temp,” says Neeli Faulkner.
The next day she had back pain, neck pain, and chills. She went home from an urgent care clinic to let what doctors thought was a virus run its course. The next day symptoms were worse.
“She said it was all the way up and down her back,” says Neeli Faulkner.
The symptoms only kept getting worse. Five days after the headache, the Faulkner family rushed to the hospital.
During the drive, they realized Annadelle was paralyzed from the neck down.
“You’re just totally helpless, it’s terrifying. It makes you angry and makes you scared at the same time. You want to take it away from her as quick as you can, especially a child like her who has been healthy her whole life,” says father Chris Faulkner.
After nearly two months in a Mobile hospital, Annadelle was diagnosed with AFM.
Now the family is at Children’s of Alabama, for therapy aimed at getting Annadele back on her feet. The CDC says the chances of getting AFM are one in a million, and there are just four confirmed cases in Alabama.
But with children being misdiagnosed like Annadelle, “It’s probably a lot more widespread than being reported,” says Neeli Faulkner.
In January, the family will be traveling to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, which is one of the best spinal cord injury rehabilitation centers in the country.