LIVING WITH A SPINAL INJURY
In May of 2013, mother of two, Amanda awoke to begin her usual day and get the kids ready for school. She was overcome with fear when she suddenly felt spasms all along her back and down her legs. Hoping the pain would subside, Amanda managed to arrive at work but unfortunately things went from bad to worse, when she realised she was unable to walk up the stairs due to the excruciating pain that she was in. She was forced to call the doctor where she pleaded with them to find out what was happening to her body.
Unable to diagnose the cause for this sudden pain, Amanda spent the next two years, visiting her doctor and physio therapist to try and receive answers to why she was in so much ongoing pain and discomfort. Eventually, much to her relief, Amanda was referred to a spinal specialist in Preston.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion. The pain had entirely taken my life away from me over the previous two years, and I just didn’t feel like me anymore. I finally felt like something was going to be done and I could get my life back.”
After receiving her results from an MRI scan, Amanda was told that not only had she developed a cyst at the bottom of her spine, but she was also suffering from severely herniated disks, so much so, that they had completely squashed the nerves on her right hand side which was causing a loss of sensation in her right leg.
Following her diagnosis, Amanda was given two options. It was either surgery or nothing. Apprehensive about the risks that the operation would involve, but knowing that something had to be done, Amanda agreed to decompression surgery in September 2015. This involved shaving off the herniated part of her spine to alleviate pressure and allow the brain to send signals to the leg again. Amanda knew that although paralysis from this form of surgery is rare, like any operation there is always a risk, and she worried about there being further damage to the nerves along her spine.
“After the operation I was able to start taking baby steps, and I was so relieved that finally, after two years, it seemed I was on the mend.”
Unfortunately, Amanda’s hopes were short lived as two days after she returned home, she found herself in a similar situation as before, only this time she was totally unable to move out of her bed. One ambulance ride, seven days in hospital and a large amount of morphine later, Amanda was able to go back home, but sadly she was told, that although the pain had subsided, the feeling in her right leg was unlikely to ever return.
With a large support network surrounding her, and a determination to get better, Amanda began taking pilates classes, and it was here that she learned about the benefits of swimming.
“I started getting in the pool in January 2016. I went around three times a week and would try to swim around 10 lengths each time. After a few months, my confidence grew and I began toying with variations of strokes.”
One afternoon, Amanda was at the leisure centre and saw a poster for The Aspire Channel Swim. After heading home and finding out that the charity supported those affected by Spinal Cord Injuries, Amanda knew that this challenge was exactly what she needed.
“The Aspire Channel Swim was something I so desperately needed, not only did I know I was raising money to help others affected by a spinal cord injury, but it also gave me my own purpose and a target to reach.”