My battle to walk after operation left me immobile
A MEXBOROUGH woman has rebuilt her life and learned to walk again, after a routine procedure on her spine went horribly wrong.
Despite suffering a punctured spinal cord and ‘dural leak’, Joanne Hobson battled intense pain and immobility to get back on her feet within a year.
And on the very day she took her first steps with crutches, she enrolled on a course to start training as a teacher.
Joanne, 43, of Oliver Street, told the Times of the horrific pain she suffered, following complications that developed during a discogram at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary in February, 2009.
She had been admitted as a day patient, for a test to determine which disc in her back could be causing her problems.
The former nursery nurse said: “I was unaware of the risk of a cord puncture or spinal fluid leak during a discogram. After my experience I asked for it to be included on the ‘risk list’ that patients sign up to prior to theatre, and I understand it is now on that list.”
Joanne returned home, thinking her acute pain would ease. But three days later she was still in agony and was advised to return to hospital.
She developed deep vein thrombosis in her leg, and suffered terrible headaches. A procedure was attempted to ease the headaches but failed.
Although it was a month before Joanne left DRI, it was a year before she managed to stand and walk with sticks.
Until then she had lived on the first floor of her home with daily visits from relatives, neighbours and friends.
Joanne remains on a twice daily dose of morphine for her pain but can now walk short distances unaided.
“I’m registered disabled and if I encounter steps with no handrail I’m stuck,” she admitted.
Before her injury, Joanne swam a mile each morning. Swimming is now impossible, and she has gained over five stones due to forced inactivity.
Joanne went on to achieve her certificate in teaching within the life-long learning sector, then to co-teach with her tutor as she progressed to a Level 5 Diploma in teaching in lifelong learning. She is now studying part-time for a degree in education and professional development with the University of Huddersfield online, attending classes just four times a year.
She said: “It’s impossible for me to do full-time study so I work mostly at home on my laptop. My goal is to teach English as a foreign language in Turkey, where I used to love to go for holidays.”
Despite her financial struggle on benefits since she has been unable to work, Joanne has not sought compensation.
She said: “NHS funding is short and there are critically ill people who need treatment.”
Jo’s main tutor Derrick Walker said: “In spite of having to lie flat most days for hours, Jo achieved her qualifications to a very high standard.
“She was able to use her empathy to mentor students who were lacking in confidence. Jo is an inspiration to anyone and I am immensely proud to be her personal tutor.”
Alex Rankin, director of services for the charity Aspire, that supports people with spinal injuries said: “In the case of incomplete injury to the spinal cord the pain experienced can vary in severity.
“Chronic pain is one of the main concerns, but in many cases, with the right support and motivation, there is no reason a person should not improve their mobility and be a fully active member of society.”
Of Joanne’s example, he said: “This lady sounds like she is a fantastic role model. I know many teachers who have spinal injuries and wish her the very best for her future.”
She praised the after-care she received from the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, but the hospital declined to comment.
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