A man training for his first full marathon has been diagnosed with a rare spinal syndrome which has left him needing a wheelchair.
Chris Mee, 34, had previously suffered with a bad back and sciatica but it never caused him any major issues.
In November last year, he lifted a heavy box while out shopping and felt his back had “totally gone”, reports reports Manchester Evening News.
Chris, from Horwich, Bolton, visited the GP after a few days of struggling with the pain and was told to visit A&E should it get worse or he felt any numbness.
He went to A&E and was kept overnight and after the results of an MRI scan, he was blue-lighted to Salford Royal as an emergency.
Within hours he was undergoing surgery to release the pressure on the nerves in his spinal column that were being compressed.
The symptoms were due to cauda equina syndrome – a rare and severe type of spinal stenosis where all the nerves in the lower back suddenly become severely compressed.
The dad-of-three now uses crutches for moving short distances and a wheelchair for anything further.
“It just happened so suddenly,” he said. “I was blue-lighted for surgery as they treat it as a medical emergency, it was the same category as a heart attack or a stroke.
“I’m not totally paralyzed and I can get about a lot better than 12 weeks ago, but it’s going to take time.
“I’ve been told that whatever recovery you get in the space of two years, that will be it, that’s all you’ll get. It usually depends on how quickly you’ve got to surgery from the onset of the condition starting. “
Chris had been training for the Edinburgh Marathon at the time – his first full marathon. Meanwhile, his son Oscar has been growing his hair for charity these past two years.
Oscar knew he would be donating his hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for young cancer patients, but he was unsure who to donate his fundraising money to.
Now the 10-year-old has more reason than ever to carry on after his dad’s condition was diagnosed.
Chris, a scaffolder now on sick pay, added: “I’m just really unlucky that it happened and it’s turned our lives upside down.”
His family have helped him get through the last few months – including the three weeks he spent in hospital, having physio and learning to walk with a Zimmer frame.
Chris is proud of Oscar for sticking with his charity mission and for choosing to donate the fundraising money to the Cauda Equina Champions Charity, which has helped the family cope.
Oscar, whose school friends and football pals on his Horwich St Mary’s under-10s team have all shown their support, said: “I started growing my hair in lockdown as I couldn’t get it cut and then my nanna said ‘why don’ t you grow it’.
“I have had people saying stuff to me and making fun and sometimes when we’ve been out in a restaurant I have been told I shouldn’t be in the men’s toilets because they saw my long hair from the back and thought I was a girls.
“I’m going to have a short back and sides so I think I’ll look completely different. When I go in school they’ll probably say ‘who are you’?”
Chris’ wife Katy, also 34, added: “Oscar has taken a lot of negative comments about his long hair and just brushed them off, showing huge strength of character. He is doing us all proud.”
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