Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

‘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

14:52

Husband raised the alarm in the early hours after dogs returned home on their own

Read more
18:40
Bishop Sarah Mullally with Carlo Melchior at Melchior Chocolates. Picture: Tony Gussin

Devon’s first woman bishop is on a three day tour of the area

Read more
15:28
The Lord and Master sculpture was taken from Ilfracombe's Driftwood Gallery.

The Lord and Master sculpture, which is worth more than £1,200, was stolen on July 19.

Read more
12:46

Armed police were called to the town on Wednesday

Read more
09:41
Southmead School in Braunton.

Police step up patrols after West Down and Southmead targeted

Read more
Atlantic Village centre manager Jean Sharples and Atlantic Racquet Centre's head coach Tom Vinall.

The shopping centre in Bideford has a whole range of free family activities on offer during the summer holidays.

Read more
07:30
Bring your favourite teddy bear along to a picnic in Barnstaple town centre on August 13. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/chrisbrignell

If you go down to the town on August 13 you’ll be in for a big surprise!

Read more
Yesterday, 15:48
Sunrise staff volunteers and members. Picture: Submitted

Community interest company selected from more than 20,000 nominations

Read more
Yesterday, 14:40
Lloyds announced the closure of 200 branches nationwide. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

‘Uncertainty’ in the wake of the EU referendum is a factor in closures.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:22
James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson filming Top Gear at Hartland Quay 2010.

New exhibition at Hartland Abbey on the role of Hartland in film and television for the past 82 years

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

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
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

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

Newsletter Sign Up

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications