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Part 2: From Wheelchair User to Pre & Postnatal Pilates Specialist!

So……if you remember from part 1. I’d had all these years as a nurse with my back killing me and this pain down my right leg getting worse and worse; and now my back was regularly locking up too. And then I got pregnant with my first…..

And bizarrely….. the pain eased a lot! But after the pregnancy, the periods of it ‘locking’ got more and more. With the next pregnancy it eased again, possibly because of the relaxing of joints and ligaments through pregnancy hormone and the weight of the bump ironically pulling my spine into a more comfortable position for me. But again, soon after birth - the problems returned.

After my 3rd pregnancy the pain became almost constant

- but I was so used to it by then that it felt normal. My back locked one final time when my 3rd baby was 18months old and this time it didn’t release.

I couldn’t lift my baby boy

(18m old and wondering why Mummy wouldn’t pick him up); I couldn’t stand up straight and I couldn’t walk more than a few metres at a time and I couldn’t drive.

I was Home Educating 3 under 7y and was incredibly touched by the support of the Home Educating Community. They picked us up for events and ran after the kids for me - and I could shuffle along a bit to pitch in.

I got one of those litter pickers to grab shoes and toys off the floor! The 7 and 6 year old became amazing at handing me things and bringing the baby to me. We even went on a caravan holiday. I was frustrated at how I couldn’t walk very far to join in with activities on the camp site.

A bit of googling and an hour or two later we had hired a wheelchair.

We dispensed with the buggy and used the wheelchair instead - sometimes all 3 children sat on my lap while Hubby pushed! It was great - I could do everything. We adapted fast to my new limitations. And then it really hit me.

Instead of fighting for my health as a young Mum - I had completely given in.

It made me do some really hard, deep work of looking at why I had never taken care of myself, protected myself, worked to be strong and healthy. It uncovered some really difficult assumptions I’d made about my worth!

I booked in for physio and they took it very seriously. My GP ordered an urgent scan which showed

2 profoundly prolapsed discs

and a lot of change/adaption in my spine to the years and years of problems. Issues that could have meant a permanent loss in flexibility and permanent long term pain. I started to realise the consequences of ignoring those early warning signs so many years earlier.

But then a miracle happened

At one of our Home Ed groups, a new Dad walked in. I was the Leader of that group so hobbled over to welcome him. He said:

‘Prolapsed Discs, probably around the L4/L5 region’.

Slightly stunned I said he was spot on.

‘I’m an Orthopeadic Surgeon, how long have you been like that?’

When I told him 4 months, he said ‘They don’t usually heal after 6m, so you’ve got 2 more months of physio and then I’m going to operate.’

My health approach is always to try natural first, and then to stay as conservative as possible. As a Nurse and an Antenatal Educator, I know first hand that medical interventions always have some level of risk, and some downsides. I knew that the benefits would have to outweigh the risk. Yet I also felt that with all my new learning on self care - this seemed like a major Divine Intervention!

I researched, asked lots of questions, and could not make progress with my healing through physio. This amazing man re-scanned me and I gratefully accepted his offer to operate to removed the prolapsed disc material that was pressing strongly on the Sciatic Nerve.

My body had cleverly turned muscles off around the prolapse so that it was actually impossible for me to stand straight.

The permanent pressure on the nerve could cause permanent loss of some sensation

My knees and back were now also painful most of the time from the strange position I would hobble along in. The most common side effects of the surgery were long term mild back pain and potential for more disc prolapse. The most rare and serious were paralysis. However, I had confidence in the surgeon, he turned out to be very experienced and had completed this surgery more times than he could remember, never seeing the very rare serious, occasionally seeing the common issues but almost always seeing complete resolution of the issues. For me the benefits of the surgery outweighed the risks and I went for it.

I had a very good response to the surgery and could stand straight the very next day. I healed well and recovered my mobility.

But the locking up continued to happen as my body was hypersensitive to anything that felt like back pain. It would lock everything up as a precaution. Still I resisted doing any regular exercise to help myself. Until an unexpected offer from NCT came my way…

Part 3 coming soon - recovery beyond anything I expected!

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