‘Miracle’ for man who conquers agonising back problem

15:11 12 September 2012

Chairman of the group Jenny Day with Derek Spencer at the Barnstaple Leisure Centre

Chairman of the group Jenny Day with Derek Spencer at the Barnstaple Leisure Centre

Archant

Man defies odds and straightens spine following ‘own little miracle’

"In the wake of the Paralympic Games, it makes you realise you don’t give up.
Everybody has got problems but you have just got to get on with it and persevere."

Derek Spencer

A MAN who was left crippled by a nerve problem has defied the odds after being told he had a 10 per cent chance of shifting his spine upright.

Derek Spencer, of Landkey, had to quit his job as a delivery driver two years ago after staggering pain in his back left him unable to stand up properly.

The 58-year-old thought he would never be able to work again but after discovering a swimming pool-based mobility group he battled the agony to achieve his remarkable recovery.

“I was in so much pain I used to lean over to try and alleviate it,” explained Derek.

“My spine ended up bending and I was left constantly leaning slightly forward and over to the right quite considerably.

“It got to the point where the agony was unbearable; it was so intense I was put on morphine to try and cope with it.”

Crippling pain

The pain was caused by a femoral nerve problem, which Derek believes stemmed from a climbing accident in 1978 and was triggered by bending and lifting items as part of his job.

He said: “I wanted to take a more conservative route without any interference or having an operation or a steel rod put up my spine.

“The physiotherapists at North Devon District Hospital were determined we could do it, but told me that 90 per cent of people in my situation would not manage to get upright again.”

Derek persevered with physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, and in January 2011 discovered the Barnstaple Water Mobility Group.

‘My own little miracle’

He said: “I’m so happy at how far I have come; it’s like my own little miracle.

“In the wake of the Paralympic Games, it makes you realise you don’t give up.

“Everybody has got problems but you have just got to get on with it and persevere.”

Jenny Day, chairman of the water mobility group, said Derek was the group’s ‘shining star’.

She said: “When Derek first came to us he could barely stand up, and now because of what he has been doing he’s getting ready to look at going back to work.

“We have around 80 members, from Royal Marines who have lost limbs to our eldest member who is 93 and has had two hip replacements.

“A number of people come to us through the hydrotherapy unit at the hospital but we are always looking for new members. We’re a friendly and welcoming group; we all help each other along.”

The next steps

Having mastered standing upright, Derek, who is married with three children, now longs to be able to go for walks with his family.

“I’m not looking to trek the Pennines or anything like that, but it would be nice to go for a Sunday stroll down the coast path for four or five miles.”

The Barnstaple Water Mobility Association meets every Monday and Thursday morning at the Barnstaple Leisure Centre.

For more information contact Jenny Day on 01271 346222.

0 comments

Other News Stories

Chancellor George Osborne laid out his plan for the South West at Appledore Shipyard on Friday. Picture: Jasmine Little

George Osborne made the pledge during a speech at Appledore Shipyard this morning (Friday)

Read more
10:06
Caravans moved onto Barnstaple's Rock Park earlier  this evening (Wednesday).

Enforcement officers called off as encampment vacates Rock Park.

Read more
Unveiling the Conservative six point plan for the South West.

The Chancellor is paying a visit to Appledore Shipyard this morning (Friday) to announce, among other things, improvements to A361 Link Road.

Read more
Russell Cheesman, who was found dead in Bideford on Sunday, October 26.

Russell Cheesman, 32, was found dead near Bideford skate park having taken a number of drugs and drinking alcohol.

Read more
The submerged car in Appledore. Picture: Andy Willterton.

Coastguard and a local tractor driver attempted to rescue the vehicle yesterday (Thursday) which is still stuck in the sand.

Read more
The Hobby Horse

From agriculture shows and food fairs to railway shows and picnics - there is loads to do in North Devon this bank holiday weekend.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:51
New North Devon Council deputy leader Pat Barker and leader Des Brailey.

Annual meeting sees the formation of a new Conservative led administration

Read more
Yesterday, 14:01
The inquest was held at Bideford Town Hall this morning (Thursday).

Julian Renouf, 37, died in April last year during a ‘tragic accident’ after fishing vessel overturned, trapping him underneath.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:00
Westward Ho! Picture: Stephen Ring

Double header for Westward Ho! with a coveted Blue Flag plus Seaside Award, but others receive a share of the spoils too...

Read more
Yesterday, 12:18

Inspector overturns council’s decision ot refuse 59 homes at Mead Park

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 10°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition



North Devon's trusted business finder