Andy’s story

Andy's story

In late 2021 the sciatica pains in my legs were worsening, my lower back pain was limiting my work, affecting my beloved job as a tree surgeon. And, known only to me, as I was too embarrassed to say anything, I was struggling to go to the loo. But I kept pushing my body every day. Eating ibuprofen like smarties (because they really had become part of my daily diet) and in agony every time I lifted a chainsaw.

But I kept pushing. And I kept riding my mountain bike at the weekends, serious off-road stuff.

27/12/2021. A fantastic ride, lots of jumps, lots of steep descents, hit a few trees, came off a few times but that’s part of it. Until I got home. Then it happened, and I very quickly, over the next 24hours discovered Cauda Equina Syndrome.
L4-L5 complete discectomy and a spine left to fuse naturally. I’ve never felt so broken and fragile. Or determined.

A burning desire to walk. To ride my bike. To go back to work. I needed challenges and goals. Despite only being able to walk 200m I decided I’d walk 200 miles in 200 days, raising money for the charity. And I bloody did it! Finishing on a 10 mile walk on 1/10/22.

And my bike, my passion, my sport, I’m back. It’s different now. I ride an E-bike as my leg strength has gone, but in short bursts, the speed and freedom are there. I need to be very careful, less aggressive, and using more padding and spinal protection. Now I listen to my body and not ignore the signs it’s telling me.

I have more damage to my L5-S1 disc, it’ll need to come out one day. But with care, I can live freely until, and hopefully even long after that day. CES is awful, it’s batters you physically and mentally, but it’s what is inside you, in your heart, that can’t be taken. Live with the passion that burns in you. It’s not about you being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.