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CMT, a life sentence not a death sentence
  1. Alex Williamson
  1. Correspondence to A Williamson, 94 Cobham Road, Fetcham, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 9JS, UK; alex.williamson2{at}

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I'm a small person and as a child was known as a ‘fairy elephant’; rather a misnomer because we all know that elephants tread softly—I don't, but only 30+ years later I found out why. I was useless at sports as a schoolgirl and came to loathe those physical education lessons. Climb a rope, balance on a beam, vault a horse? Forget it. Children are cruel and I hated being laughed at by my peers, and picked on by a nasty games teacher. I did everything I could to be inconspicuous.

Some 20 years later while pregnant, I seemed to fall a lot and a few months later realised I was tripping over my toes that no longer flexed. Here is where a little medical knowledge is dangerous (I am a biologist and was subediting and managing a range of different specialist medical journals). I convinced myself that I was developing multiple sclerosis. I finally plucked up the courage to consult my general practitioner (GP) who referred me to an orthopaedic surgeon. He took one look and said “you need a neurologist”. Now I was truly scared! My local district hospital neurologist was mystified and referred me to the Atkinson Morley Hospital, a regional neurology centre in London, where I …

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