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In Your Own Words: Wendy’s Story


I started with sciatica around March 2014 but progressively became worse over a 4-5 month period.  I finally ended up at the GP who gave me Tramadol and sent me away.  He did however tell me to call him immediately if I experienced any saddle anaesthesia or bladder/bowel issues.

Shortly after starting the Tramadol (under 2 weeks) I became quite unwell and stupidly I made the decision to stop taking them without reducing the dosage. I thought because I hadn’t taken them long it wouldn’t be an issue!  How wrong I was and within 24 hours I was suffering major withdrawal symptoms.  My entire body was in pain, itchy, vomiting and more. It was far worse than the back pain.

I got so sick I called an NHS out of hours Doctor, who subsequently called an ambulance because of my white blood count.   It turned out I’m opioid intolerant.  At this point I was still awaiting my initial MRI scan but because they admitted me they went ahead with it.  I was literally back in the admissions ward 10 minutes when a consultant came running in the room and rambled something which I never understood at the time, and said an ambulance has been requested to move me to a large hospital in Edinburgh for immediate surgery.

They ended up head blocking me as they said I was in danger of paralysis.  Talk about being panicked!  I was on my own and very frightened, and somewhat confused as to what exactly I had wrong with me.  It was better when I arrived at the other hospital as they explained everything very well and talked me through the discectomy surgery.  I had the L5/S1 removed and remarkably was discharged less than 24 hours later.

My recovery was slow and nearly 4 years on I still haven’t had any nerve regeneration with my numb foot and numb bum/leg.  It took me over a year to get full strength back but I’m much better now, although I have constant nerve and back pain from another small diffuse disc bulge, and scar tissue.  I’ve tried the maximum dosage of so many drugs, from Gabapentin, Pregablin, Baclofen & more.  None have worked so I gave up and now I just put up with it.

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If Wendy’s story has inspired you to share your own experiences with Cauda Equina Syndrome then please contact us, we’d love to hear from you!