15 July 2022

Aidan’s spinal walk challenge

Aidan Smith is a retired mechanical engineer from Dorset. He talks about suffering from a spinal stroke and receiving treatment at University Hospital Southampton.

“One Saturday in 2019 I was doing some DIY on my house when I suddenly felt immense pain across my shoulders. Within the next 15 minutes, I couldn’t move my left arm or leg.

It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.

My wife, Anita, was out, but thankfully we are really close with our neighbours. I used our WhatsApp neighbours group chat, and they came to help, calling 999 for an ambulance.

I was taken to Dorset County Hospital but as they didn’t have an operating MRI scanner, I was transferred to University Hospital Southampton.

Scans showed that I had suffered from a spinal stroke.

One of the blood vessels in my spinal column had burst, causing a blood clot and subsequently, my stroke and immobility.

Surgery was booked for the next day, so I spent a night wondering if I would ever gain my mobility back again, or how long it would take to recover.

The surgery was nothing more than miraculous!

They withdrew the blood clot from the back of my neck, and by the time I came out of recovery, I could move my left arm. It was that quick!

Next day, physiotherapists got me up from bed and walking with a frame. I was not steady at first, but I just improved from there, slowly increasing the distance.

I was discharged on the Tuesday and have fully recovered thanks to the incredible care and treatment I received in Southampton.

Within just a few weeks, I could walk up to 4 miles which, when I was waiting for ambulance, I never thought would happen again.

Aidan’s challenge

I am very fortunate to live along the stunning south coast. Before my spinal stroke, I’d already started to walk the 630 miles along the south west coast path with a friend, but then this got put on hold with Covid-19.

So in 2022/early 2023 I am going to be completing the last 480 miles in support of Southampton Hospitals Charity.

In June I managed to walk an additional 164 miles and had every weather condition whilst on the route!

The path has fantastic scenery, although it is not flat by any means. Walking the entire south west coast path is equivalent to scaling the world’s tallest mountain four times! That’s right, with 115,000 feet of ascent and descent the path rivals the likes of Mount Everest.”

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