Mum, 36, paralysed below the waist after having ‘bad back’ for week


A mum who at first brushed off her back pain as just an ordinary strain instead wound up being rushed into life-changing surgery after she lost feeling in her legs.

About a month before the first lockdown Zoe Fox, from west London, had begun to notice pain around her spine.

The 36-year-old marketing executive’s pain went on for around a week and she decided to seek help.

But as she was getting out of a cab on the day of her daughter’s first birthday she realised to her horror she could no longer feel her legs.

She was rushed to hospital where a MRI scan revealed she had a herniated disc (also known as slipped disc) that was crushing her spinal cord, specifically a key bundle of nerves known as the Cauda Equina.

“I was terrified when they said I needed surgery,” the north Kensington mum told My London.

She added: “I had no idea that what happened was even possible, it wasn’t even in my awareness that that was a thing. I’ve been to the GP about it a few times and it’s the usual rest, take some tablets, do some physio.”

She was rushed into surgery on February 29, 2020, the day of her now two-year-old daughter Shola’s birthday.

But her pain was growing and realising it was like nothing she’d ‘never felt before’ prompted her to get an appointment with an osteopath.

After returning home from the appointment and getting out of the cab, Zoe, who is otherwise fit and healthy, could no longer feel her legs.

Just weeks after she had successful emergency surgery, the UK was plunged into lockdown which saw the self-employed digital marketing project manager unable to access in-patient rehabilitation.

“Of all the times to get this injury, in the middle of a pandemic has to be the worst,” Zoe said.

She continued: “There’s no aftercare, the house is full of boxes, no one was able to come and help us, appointments were being cancelled, we’re all frightened, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’re petrified, we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“It was really lonely.”

After the surgery, Zoe found that her mobility was compromised and she experiencing changes to her bladder and bowel function. In addition she lost her income as a result of being unable to work.

Now, 13 months after the life-changing surgery, Zoe still hasn’t received rehabilitation and is dependent on crutches living in a third-floor flat without any lift access.

Zoe credits her husband, Kane, for becoming her primary carer while looking after their daughter and balancing the impact of the pandemic on the entertainment industry, in which he is a DJ.

In a bid to get her ‘life back’, Zoe has launched a GoFund Me campaign to receive neurological physio therapy, and other treatments to advance her recovery and accessibility at home.

Her campaign has raised just under £10,000 in seven days.

“I’m keen to get my life back as much as I can,” Zoe said.

The mum told how grateful she was for the donations and support she had received so far.

Zoe said: “It’s mind blowing, I’ve spent the last week just crying on and off because of the possibility and support it’s given me to access more support. I’ve spoken to specialists who have invited me in for a review.”

She added she also hopes that her story will raise awareness and encourage other people to be ‘persistent’ when they notice something wrong with their body.