NHS op hope for popular Sam, 28

Sam Rhodes
Sam Rhodes

A SCARBOROUGH man whose life has been blighted by pain from prolapsed discs and nerve damage is hoping that the initial operation will be performed on the NHS after all.

Sam Rhodes, 28, of Northstead, has endured severe chronic pain for over two years as a result of degenerative disc disease. Time after time various NHS Trusts declined to operate, leaving Sam unable to work and reliant on a potent cocktail of prescription drugs. But now a surgeon has said he is willing to take on the heavy risk associated with the surgery.

Earlier this year Sam found a private spinal specialist who agreed to operate and oversee Sam’s rehabilitation at a cost of £20,000. Sam and his friends therefore set out to raise money.

However, Sam’s symptoms continued to get worse, with new problems arising as a result of his medication. He therefore asked for another referral to a spinal unit, and has now been told that the NHS will perform the complex operation in an attempt to halt the on-going deterioration.

Sam said: “This is amazing news. I’ve been in such pain for such a long time, I hardly dare hope that things may be about to improve.

“When I first found out that an operation was possible, but at a private hospital, I was dismayed that it was such a lot of money. But my friends were incredible. They started a fund to help me, and the money poured in. I was hoping that I would be able to book in by the end of the year. It was incredibly good for my morale, knowing how many people cared. I never gave up on the NHS, but having been refused six times couldn’t believe it would happen. Finally some luck has come my way.

“The physical symptoms just get worse and worse. The care I have received from Scarborough Hospital, especially from the pain clinic, has been exemplary, but only surgery is going to really help me. Some of my friends talked me into seeing yet another NHS trust, and I went to University Hospital of North Tees. They said my MRI scans showed I needed to be operated on as soon as possible. Now I’ve been told that they intend to book me in for an operation, which I hope will be this month or next.

“At the moment, everything I do hurts. The thought that the pain could be lessened seems too good to be true. But it’s not a magic bullet, not by a long shot. I won’t regain full mobility, and it will be a slow recovery - a couple of years to feel the full benefit of the operation, and there will be a very long process of physiotherapy and possibly even more surgery.

“Of course, the operation hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve had my hoped raised and dashed before. But in case it does go ahead, I need to make sure that everyone who has supported me knows what the situation is.

“If the operation is done on the NHS and anyone wants their money back, then that’s fine. So far everyone has refused, instead saying that they want it to go towards any costs of aftercare and other expenses that crop up during my treatment, rehabilitation and recovery, when I might need more physio etc than the NHS can provide. But of course it’s up to every individual.

“Having everyone’s support over the past few months has been the best medicine possible. They did right by me, and now I want to do right by them.”