Teenager forced to whisper for a year after mystery illness left her with no voice

A teenager lost her voice for a year after she was struck down by a mystery illness that left her bed-bound and only able to whisper.

Grace Burke-Whyte was studying for her A-Levels when she woke up one morning unable to speak and suffering crippling fatigue.

She was confined to her bed for months while doctors running tests were stumped as to what had brought on the symptoms.

Grace went from being a healthy and happy teenager to losing the ability to use her hands and growing isolated from her friends at school.

Speaking to Liverpool ECHO Grace, now 22, said: “The hardest part was not knowing what it was. I think what I had in my head was if I know what it is I can live with it.”

As the weeks turned into months, Grace felt she was missing out on the experiences of a normal teenager – but medics continued to scratch their heads.

“When I first fell ill, I was 16, I couldn’t really move and do anything,” she said.

grace burke whyte
Grace Burke-Whyte, from Mossley Hill, receiving her new bike from Halfords after years of battling crippling health problems

“I was just stuck in bed. And then I could not use my hands, I couldn’t grip anything or touch anything, they were really sore.”

Eventually she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), often known as ME, and the chronic nerve pain condition fibromyalgia.

The causes of the disease are poorly understood, and Grace has been forced to use trial and error to manage her condition.

Luckily, Grace says her voice returned on its own and despite occasional flare-ups has not disappeared again since.

Despite the ordeal, she was able to complete a degree in fine art at the University of Chester.

She even set up her own online business, Once Upon a Brush Ltd, selling custom boots and jackets.

But as things were easing, Grace, from Mossley Hill, Chester, was struck down by another set of bad luck.

While performing tests on her hands, doctors were struck by how limited the range of movement in her back was and began to investigate.

She was later diagnosed with another rare condition called ankylosing spondylosis, which causes inflammation around the spine.

Thankfully, Grace has been given a massive boost after being selected to receive a free electronic bike in an initiative run by Halfords.

The scheme is aimed at helping young people with financial hardship who do not have access to a car.

For more information on CFS/ME visit the NHS website here.

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