'I can walk and I can just about run'
MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE:Dame Emily Naper
IT WAS 22 years ago and I was pregnant with my son. Because I was losing him, I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed so I was in hospital for three months.
In the end, he was born in the lift. I was being taken down as an emergency but I never got anywhere. He just appeared. He was a miracle actually because he was so small. He was under three pounds, which was tiny. But he survived and thank goodness he was okay.
I was relieved obviously but then my legs wouldn’t work. One of them didn’t move at all and I had pain in my spine so I really couldn’t do anything. Maybe it was an old injury, but I simply had to get better. It wasn’t so easy with a new baby and two other children but you’ve just got to find a way. My husband was working really hard so I got a male nanny. That was a bit unusual but I needed someone to play with the boys, to drive and they had to look after me as well. The sciatic pain was excruciating.
I had a laminectomy, a kind of a spinal operation three months after the birth. Before the operation I think I was living on vodka and painkillers because the pain was so bad. There was a 50:50 chance I would be able to walk again, so I was relieved it was successful.
But I guess I wasn’t the perfect patient. When you are trying to be a working mum and you’re not well, it’s hard. Maybe I should have done more exercises then – maybe that’s why my back is still not perfect today.
This was all at a time when we managed very cleverly to lose all our money so I had to come up with an ingenious idea to make some back. I’m a gilder by profession and somehow, people wanted me to teach them so I just had to get up and get going and start my gilding school.
It was pretty tough because I couldn’t even sit on a stool. I used to get really tired but I was so grateful that people wanted to be taught. I loved teaching and it gave me the inner confidence that things were okay. I guess I just kept going to this day. I’m still trying to still keep going.
I can’t squat properly nor bend down properly, or jump but I can walk and I can just about run and I get tired but that’s not bad. I’m grateful to have what I have.
I have discovered some amazing treatments, which I have then tried to learn because I was so amazed by them.
I’ve tried this new technology called Scenar, a machine with electro impulses that move up and down the spine. It helps send a message to the brain to heal where you are damaged.
I found somebody in Ireland who did it. I would be on my last legs and I would drive down to Mayo to find him and he’d do this amazing treatment, wrapping me up in this kind of a magnet for about three days. It’s like recharging your batteries, which is great because I suppose when you have a spinal problem, you get doubly tired.