Everyday painkillers are thought to have triggered a potentially lethal skin condition which left a North dad in agonising pain
A man has told how a headache pill ‘almost killed him’ after sparking a two-in-a-million allergic reaction which left him in a coma for nine days.
Nissan production worker Jason Ryan’s skin also blistered and peeled away in sheets.
He was suffering from the extremely rare Steven-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) – which is believed to have been sparked just by taking the over-the-counter drug ibuprofen.
The disorder affects just two people in every million but can be fatal if left untreated.
The traumatic series of events started when Jason, 28, from Washington, near Sunderland, was suffering from flu-like symptoms in May last year.
Having taken ibuprofen in the past and suffered no reaction, Jason and wife Claire never made the link to the drug when he began to develop blisters.
Claire told the Newcastle Chronicle: “He already had this rash, like shingles, and he was taking ibuprofen every four hours.
“It was all over his legs and his back, I knew it wasn’t a sweat rash.
“He was taking the ibuprofen and the next day his feet came up in blisters like tennis balls.”
Claire, a mum to seven-year-old Brooke, immediately called for an ambulance but was told to head to her nearest walk-in centre.
“We should have known then,” said Claire. “We were then told to go to the hospital.
“We could see it progressing; his skin was blistering.”
The couple rushed to hospital where Jason was diagnosed with the potentially fatal condition.
One in three who suffer from a severe reaction dies.
The rare illness starts with a burning rash on the face and torso which quickly worsens.
Various triggers have been identified by medics, and the drug ibuprofen, used everyday to treat pain and inflammation, is one of those thought to occasionally spark the reaction.
“There is no cure for it so it just has to run its course,” said Claire.
“Jason’s body looked like a horror show, whenever he moved more skin would fall off.
“He was screaming, it was so raw.
“Nobody could tell us what was happening because nobody knew.
“I would have preferred him to have had cancer because when I heard one in three die I thought he has no chance.
“We were told it would last for 14 days and he was in a coma for nine days.
“It was the worst time of my life.
“I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to tell our daughter Brooke?’
“Jason is our world. It is a miracle he lived.”
Jason said: “The funny thing is Claire can remember everything and I don’t remember anything.
“All I remember is waking up with my body changed.
“I went to sleep weighing about 13st and woke up being about 9st.
“I couldn’t move my arms or legs, all I could move was my head.
“I thought my life, like my wife and daughter, were just a dream.”
Jason pulled through and is back at home with Claire and Brooke, as well as the family’s two Great Danes Abel and Storm, their parrot Arnold and two cats, Boots and Socks.
The syndrome can return but Claire says that, while Jason is still weakened from his ordeal, she feels they are through the worst.
She has become Jason’s carer full-time and is unable to continue her work showing and breeding dogs.
“We are all suffering,” she said. “It isn’t good.
“Jason is like a little old man but he is getting stronger and stronger all the time.
“It is more the mental side.
“He has post traumatic stress disorder but he is getting better.
“He is still my Jason.”
Jason said: “I have lost interest in all my hobbies but right now is the best I have ever been since I was ill.
“I haven’t been able to get up for months.
“I get up and I have to go and lie down at 12pm.
“Claire has been brilliant, I couldn’t ask for anything more from her.
“I want to thank my wife, if it wasn’t for her I would be dead.
“I probably wouldn’t have gone to hospital and it could have gone very differently.”
Claire, of The Drive in Washington, said Sunderland-based car manufacturer Nissan, where Jason works, has been hugely supportive during his illness.
She said wanted to express her gratitude to Jason’s employers through the pages of the Sunday Sun after all of their help.
Claire was also in regular contact with Robyn Moult, from Littleport, Cambridgeshire, whose 11-year-old son Calvin Lock developed SJS after taking painkillers and who is now setting up a charity to raise awareness of the condition.
To thank Robyn, Claire approached Nissan and the car giant is donating £1,000 to the project as Jason continues his recovery.
She said: “Robyn gave me strength and hope, she talked to me for hours. That woman got me through the worst time in my life.
“I’m really grateful for what Nissan are doing.”
The cheque will be handed over at the Nissan plant on February 7 at 11am.