Determination goes a long way.

Molly (not her real name) left a 30+ years’ career in financial services and retrained as an integrated humanist therapist. When she retired she had much more time to enjoy her main hobbies of long-distance walking and badminton and took up tennis. Keeping fit has always been very important.

Like many people in their 60s she had a history of 20 years of lower back pain and had learnt to cope by keeping active and doing physio exercises when needed.

One morning in July 2019 Molly awoke, moved to get out of bed and suffered searing pain in her right leg. She manoeuvred herself out and managed to put some limited weight onto her leg. Over the next couple of days she experimented with moving around but was in serious pain. A few days later she decided to visit the GP as she was still extremely limited in what she could do and unable to carry out her normal exercises. Painkillers were prescribed but these did not work and had unpleasant side effects.

A month later, and no better, she told another GP that she had had an MRI at the beginning of the year which showed some disc protrusion. By now she thought this was the cause of her problem. He referred her to SMSKPE.

She had already booked a walking tour in the Lake District so saw a physio privately who confirmed a bulging disc, gave her some exercises and encouraged her to walk as much as she was able. Ten days later she went on her holiday but kept her rucksack as light as possible. “I was happy. I had to be careful but I could stand with the correct posture. Walking uphill was fine, descending was more difficult. I walked up three of the highest peaks and down again,” she said proudly.

Upon her return Molly saw an advanced practitioner. “I always do a lot of research before I see any clinician so I had loads of questions but Mike was very thorough”, she said. “He talked me through the MRI findings, including red flags. He was a good listener, empathetic, thorough and reassuring. He praised me and said that I had handled everything correctly and had made myself better more quickly by gritting my teeth through the pain, keeping mobile and especially walking as much as I could.

“The best news was he said I could return to tennis and badminton (carefully!). I’m now back to my usual 10-15 miles every Sunday and playing regular badminton and tennis matches.

“I think the most important thing in my speedy recovery was that I kept as active and mobile as I could”.