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Woman, 21, reveals how brain tumour was discovered during routine eye test

A woman who thought she needed glasses was shocked when an optician suspected a brain tumour and doctors sent her for emergency surgery 12 hours later – saying if it had been a day later she would have died.

Ellie Musgrove, from Manchester, started experiencing severe headaches and neck pain after her 21st birthday in January 2022, but she knew it was more than just a hangover after only celebrating with two alcoholic drinks.

She then realised she couldn’t see properly when she was plucking her eyebrows – her vision was impaired with black spots and double vision.

She called her GP and was prescribed antibiotics over the phone for an ear infection, but her symptoms didn’t improve, which prompted her to book an appointment with the opticians.

Thinking she needed glasses, Ellie visited Specsavers with her father, Mike, 54, a commercial landlord, on 20 March 2022, before being rushed to Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester, after the optician noticed swelling of her optic nerve.

Just 12 hours later, she underwent emergency brain surgery to drain excess fluid around her brain, before undergoing an MRI the following day which revealed she had a brain tumour which had caused Addison’s disease – an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones.

Ellie will now need to take steroids for life to manage the uncommon condition, but is thankful she went to Specsavers when she did after being told by doctors that another day without action could have proved fatal.

Ellie Musgrove, from Manchester, started experiencing severe headaches and neck pain after her 21st birthday in January 2022, but she knew it was more than just a hangover after only celebrating with two alcoholic drinks

Ellie Musgrove, from Manchester, started experiencing severe headaches and neck pain after her 21st birthday in January 2022, but she knew it was more than just a hangover after only celebrating with two alcoholic drinks

Ellie (pictured in hospital) then realised she couldn't see properly when she was plucking her eyebrows - her vision was impaired with black spots and double vision

Ellie (pictured in hospital) then realised she couldn’t see properly when she was plucking her eyebrows – her vision was impaired with black spots and double vision

She called her GP and was prescribed antibiotics over the phone for an ear infection, but her symptoms didn't improve, which prompted her to book an appointment with the opticians. Pictured, Ellie with optometrist, Aqeel Mahmood

She called her GP and was prescribed antibiotics over the phone for an ear infection, but her symptoms didn’t improve, which prompted her to book an appointment with the opticians. Pictured, Ellie with optometrist, Aqeel Mahmood

Ellie, a support carer, said: ‘I knew my headaches weren’t down to being hungover because we celebrated my birthday with a quiet family meal out – nothing crazy.

‘I never get headaches, but these were terrible. I thought I’d just slept funny which was making my neck hurt.’

She added: ‘My life has been turned upside down, but it could have been a lot worse – I keep reminding myself of that.

‘I’m glad I went to Specsavers when I did – I’m grateful to the optician and the doctors for saving my life.’

Thinking she needed glasses, Ellie visited Specsavers with her father, Mike, 54, a commercial landlord, on 20 March 2022, before being rushed to Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester, after the optician noticed swelling of her optic nerve

Ellie pictured outside Specsavers

Thinking she needed glasses, Ellie visited Specsavers with her father, Mike, 54, a commercial landlord, on 20 March 2022, before being rushed to Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester, after the optician noticed swelling of her optic nerve

Just 12 hours later, she underwent emergency brain surgery to drain excess fluid around her brain, before undergoing an MRI the following day which revealed she had a brain tumour which had caused Addison's disease - an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn't produce enough of certain hormones. Ellie pictured with father Mike

Just 12 hours later, she underwent emergency brain surgery to drain excess fluid around her brain, before undergoing an MRI the following day which revealed she had a brain tumour which had caused Addison’s disease – an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. Ellie pictured with father Mike

Ellie will now need to take steroids for life to manage the uncommon condition, but is thankful she went to Specsavers when she did after being told by doctors that another day without action could have proved fatal. Ellie pictured with mother Diane

Ellie will now need to take steroids for life to manage the uncommon condition, but is thankful she went to Specsavers when she did after being told by doctors that another day without action could have proved fatal. Ellie pictured with mother Diane

Ellie’s symptoms started just after her 21st birthday on 5 January 2022, when she was experiencing severe headaches along with neck pain.

‘I also had blurred and double vision, black spots and started to hear pulsating whooshing heartbeat sounds,’ she said.

‘My headaches and neck pains seemed to be worse in the mornings and evenings but were still in the background throughout the day.

‘My GP suspected I had an ear infection and prescribed antibiotics and Ibuprofen, but my symptoms didn’t improve. I decided to make an appointment to see my optician at Specsavers.’

Ellie's symptoms started just after her 21st birthday on 5 January 2022, when she was experiencing severe headaches along with neck pain. Pictured, on her 21st with her father Mike

Ellie’s symptoms started just after her 21st birthday on 5 January 2022, when she was experiencing severe headaches along with neck pain. Pictured, on her 21st with her father Mike

'I also had blurred and double vision, black spots and started to hear pulsating whooshing heartbeat sounds,' she said. Pictured, on her 21st with her mother Diane

‘I also had blurred and double vision, black spots and started to hear pulsating whooshing heartbeat sounds,’ she said. Pictured, on her 21st with her mother Diane 

Heaton Park Specsavers optometrist, Aqeel Mahmood said: ‘At the time, Ellie made an appointment when she couldn’t get to the bottom of her severe head and neck aches and impaired vision.

‘I noted swelling of the optic nerves in both eyes and this, in conjunction with Ellie’s symptoms, indicated that something was seriously wrong.

‘Urgent medical intervention was required, so I immediately referred Ellie to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.’

After numerous scans and tests that day, Ellie was transferred by ambulance to the neurology department at Salford Royal Hospital.

After numerous scans and tests, Ellie (left) was transferred by ambulance to the neurology department at Salford Royal Hospital

After numerous scans and tests, Ellie (left) was transferred by ambulance to the neurology department at Salford Royal Hospital

Ellie (pictured at her 21st birthday meal with family) was diagnosed with hydrocephalus - a build-up of fluid deep within the brain - caused by a brain tumour and required emergency surgery to drain the fluid

Ellie (pictured at her 21st birthday meal with family) was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid deep within the brain – caused by a brain tumour and required emergency surgery to drain the fluid

'I went from having my eyes tested at 11am to having emergency brain surgery by 11.30pm on the same day,' Ellie (pictured at hospital) said

Ellie pictured in hospital

‘I went from having my eyes tested at 11am to having emergency brain surgery by 11.30pm on the same day,’ Ellie (pictured at hospital) said

WHAT IS ADDISON’S DISEASE? 

Addison’s disease is a condition in which the body does not make enough of the hormone cortisol.

When the body’s cortisol levels drop too low, this can cause a range of symptoms.

These include weakness, dizziness, fatigue and abdominal pain.

A very low cortisol level can be life-threatening.

This is because cortisol is vital as it helps regulate blood pressure and the immune system and it helps the body respond to stress.

Addison’s disease is treated with hormone replacement tablets.

It is thought about 8,000 people in the UK have the illness and most cases first develop in people aged between 30 and 50.

About 70 per cent of cases are thought to be caused by an autoimmune disease but it can also be triggered by TB.

Source: patient.co.uk

She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid deep within the brain – caused by a brain tumour and required emergency surgery to drain the fluid.

‘I went from having my eyes tested at 11am to having emergency brain surgery by 11.30pm on the same day,’ Ellie said.

‘An MRI scan the following day confirmed I had a benign brain tumour between the pineal and pituitary glands, which was blocking the fluid flow around my brain.

‘I was also diagnosed with Addison’s disease. The tumour is affecting my pituitary gland, which is a devastating blow as I will have to take hydrocortisone steroids for the rest of my life.

‘I am slowly but surely recovering and will now have regular MRI scans to keep check on the tumour.

‘The neurosurgeons think it’s a slow growing tumour, that only 1% of people develop, so hopefully I won’t need surgery to remove it anytime soon.

‘I may well need further surgery if the fluid builds up again, but at least I know what the symptoms are now.

‘My life has been turned upside down, but I, along with my family, will be forever grateful to Aqeel and the Specsavers team. If it weren’t for them, I would not be here today, they saved my life.

‘I would also like to thank the medical teams at Manchester Royal and Salford Royal Hospitals – they looked after me so well and were so caring.’

Aqeel added: ‘Ellie’s story shows the importance of looking after your eye health and if you have any major worries then do get checked out by an optician.

‘Had Ellie ignored her symptoms and put off seeing an optician, it could have been a very different outcome.’

Ellie (pictured), a support carer, said: 'I knew my headaches weren't down to being hungover because we celebrated my birthday with a quiet family meal out - nothing crazy'

Ellie (pictured), a support carer, said: ‘I knew my headaches weren’t down to being hungover because we celebrated my birthday with a quiet family meal out – nothing crazy’

Ellie pictured recently at Specsavers. She said: 'I never get headaches, but these were terrible. I thought I'd just slept funny which was making my neck hurt.'

Ellie pictured recently at Specsavers. She said: ‘I never get headaches, but these were terrible. I thought I’d just slept funny which was making my neck hurt.’

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