Mulbarton mum takes on moutain walk after life-changing spinal surgery
A mother-of-five has walked more than 50 miles of the Pennines in a fundraising effort to say thank you to the Norfolk spinal surgeon who she credits with giving back her life.
For almost two decades, Becky Taylor, 57, lived with constant pain caused by scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.
Since the birth of her youngest child 16 years ago, the discomfort gradually grew to the point where she was unable to stand to make a cup of tea or even bear to have the weight of a guitar strap around her neck.
But Mrs Taylor, of Primrose Close, Mulbarton, is now able to enjoy long walks, gardening and sports once again thanks to the skills of surgeon Am Rai, at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, who secured her crooked spine with two titanium rods and 18 screws.
As a sign of gratitude, Mrs Taylor undertook a 58 mile hike over five days along the Pennines – known as the backbone of Britain – to raise funds for Mr Rai's charity Spine Aid.
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So far she has raised at least �400 for the cause which provides treatment for children with spinal problems in Zambia.
'Thank you is a very inadequate word sometimes. It's okay if someone passes something over a table but to be given your life back, thank you doesn't seem quite enough,' said Mrs Taylor.
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Her spinal condition was first noticed by a ballet teacher at the age of 14, but throughout her teen years and early adult life she experienced little discomfort.
But things began to deteriorate as she entered her 40s and by her 50s the pain - which she describes as a dog constantly gnawing at your leg - was restricting her lifestyle.
She even considered giving up her role as a music teacher at Mulbarton Infant School - the pain had already claimed her previous job at the Norwich-based charity Musical Keys, which uses music therapy to help children with disabilities.
But it was when she was forced to use a wheelchair for the first time during a shopping trip at a BnQ store that prompted her to take drastic action.
Mrs Taylor said: 'The whole wheelchair thing did it in the end. If the surgery went wrong I would be in a wheelchair but if I didn't have the surgery I was heading for a wheelchair anyway. I thought I might as well go for it.'
Mr Rai and his team conducted the surgery in January 2010. She left hospital after two weeks and the first thing she remembers is hitting her head on the car door having instantly gained two inches in height as a result of the operation.
After weeks of pacing the rooms of her house, she made her first outdoor walk to the local post box with her husband Tom two months later which she said felt 'amazing'.
Mrs Taylor added: 'It's almost unbelievable. I have no pain. At Christmas, I remember looking at a flight of stairs in a Norwich shop and thinking 'oh no' but then I thought 'why are you worrying – you can do this now'.'
Mr Rai said almost �40,000 had been raised for Spine Aid by former patients.
'It's wonderful. With very little advertising, our ex-patients have raised �40,000 which is an amazing amount. It's very nice to see patients do well and we're indebted to Rebecca and all the others who have raised money,' he said.
For more information on Spine Aid, visit www.contoursolutions.org/Charity-Work/Spine-Aid