Mum hospitalised after inhaling laughing gas hopes for full recovery

August 23 2018

A Thornbury mum who is seriously ill after inhaling laughing gas from balloons, is hoping she’ll make a full recovery so that she can return home to be with her 3 year old son, Parker.

Liv Golding told the Thornbury Voice that she has no sensation in her body from her waist down, and can’t walk unaided, but she isn’t paralysed.  She was inhaling the gas from balloons at festivals and had had around 15 over a period of a few months. 

She says the problems started about a month ago when she woke up at her Mum’s house in Thornbury and felt like she’d been exercising hard. She put it down to horse-riding the day before.  But when she walked down the stairs she had a strange sensation in her legs like pins and needles. 

Liv said “About three weeks later it started getting to the point where I couldn’t feel anything in my stomach, I couldn’t feel that I was full. Then my chest started going tingly. Then my hands closed up and turned it.”  

When Liv saw the doctor, they sent her to Southmead hospital where they started doing blood tests. She was diagnosed a week later.  A brain scan revealed nitrous oxide on her brain and damage to her nervous system.

Liv has had a series of B12 injections and is taking a drug to help with nerve pain.  She said: “My hands have got a lot better. I can’t lift my leg and put it on the floor, I’m practising working on movements where I slide my legs like I’m ice skating. Every time I put my foot on the floor I feel a shooting pain.” 

Determined to raise awareness of the damage that laughing gas can do, Liv wrote about her experience on her Facebook page. She said: “I wanted to write this on social media to make awareness to all of my friends that also use balloons, of what the balloon is actually doing to your body. If this just stops one person from doing them I feel I would have succeeded in some way.” 

“I think we have all become almost expectant to the fact of seeing balloons being sold at festivals, on the streets and even in night clubs. Over the past month my body has slowly been becoming numb, deteriorating in front of me getting to the point last week that I no longer could move my hands or even dress myself. The nitrous oxide that is put into the balloon that we all crave for is actually starving your brain of oxygen and eating away at your nervous system.”

“The doctors are now going to focus on trying to reverse this, but I wanted to make everyone aware that the 20 second high off that one balloon could cause you weeks in hospital teaching yourself to walk properly again. Please think of the consequences and raise awareness of nitrous oxide.” 

Her story went viral and was picked up by national papers, and she says the impact was devastating: “I woke up one morning to 2,000 messages in my inbox, over 100,000 messages on the news articles, to people ringing the ward.  It was awful to wake up to.  My son’s Nan is in Australia and she rang my Mum thinking I was paralysed. My grandad saw it in the paper and saw ‘hippy crack’ and thought I was taking crack.” 

Liv’s son Parker is being looked after by her family, and by his Dad, her former partner. She said: “I have nine brothers and sisters.  Mum is amazing. Everyone has been. It’s just really come together. It’s like the good out of a bad situation, our family has become so close.  So many people are here to help.” 

She’s been given no timescale by Doctors for her recovery. Liv’s now hoping to raise funds to support the neurology department at Southmead Hospital, and to do talks in schools about the dangers of laughing gas.