‘It’s turned my life upside down’: Alyth woman speaks out about decade of back pain as she prepares for fourth op

Grace Hocking has been left in constant daily pain. Image: Mhairi Edwards, DC Thomson.
Grace Hocking has been left in constant daily pain. Image: Mhairi Edwards, DC Thomson.

Grace Hocking was a fit and active mum – until back pain changed her life forever.

Her first operation for a lower back disc problem was carried out at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital in 2012.

Now, 10 years on, Grace says she’s still in daily pain, rarely leaves her Perthshire home and is preparing for her FOURTH back operation.

She gives us an insight into how living with chronic pain has affected her and family life.

And explains why she is now requesting her medical records from NHS Tayside.

Grace says family life was never the same after operations on her back. Image: DC Thomson.

“I was in my 30s in 2012 when a disc went in my lower back. That’s when it all started,” Grace, 49, explains.

“I was floored and was back and forward to the doctor and the hospital.”

The first operation was the start of a number of health challenges for Grace.

A prolapse and two more ops

Just weeks later, Grace had to undergo a hysterectomy after discovering she had a pelvic prolapse.

Further operations followed over the next 10 years to try to ‘fix’ the recurring issue of the disc in her back.

Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. Image: DC Thomson.

She is living with nerve damage now down her right side. And feels she’s been robbed of living a normal life with her children Samantha (13), Blair (21) and Michael (30).

“It’s turned my life upside down,” Grace explains.

Access to medical records

“I’m depressed, I spend my life in my bedroom and sometimes I feel I am such a burden on my family.

“Those thoughts go through my head on a daily basis.”

To be able to better understand her health struggles, Grace is now asking NHS Tayside for her medical records.

“It’s the same disc, why does this keep coming out?” she asks.

‘She’s missed out on me being mum’

She feels reading her records will help her piece together her life of dealing with pain and operations.

Grace continues: “I can’t remember it all, because of all the painkillers over the years my memory is terrible – so I want to look back and jog my memory on everything.

“Ten years is a long time to be in pain.

“Especially since I was an independent person who’s always worked.

The Hermitage was a favourite place for Grace to visit with her kids before her ops. Image: DC Thomson.

“Now I’m on full enhanced PIP, can’t work and can’t even just leave the house.

“The worst part is that my youngest daughter was only two and a half when this started.

“I feel like she’s missed out on me being a proper mum to her.

‘It’s been hard’

“I was very active before and would take the kids out in the country for walks, places like the Hermitage, or go camping,” Grace explains.

“My daughter never saw any of that because I wasn’t able.

She feels she’s missed out on the chance to be a ‘proper’ mum to daughter Samantha. Image: DC Thomson.

“I’m not able to visit my three step-children who live in Stoke because it’s too far in the car.

“And now I’ve eight grandchildren I can’t even lift up.

“It’s been hard.”

Next stage

Grace is now building up to the prospect of another back operation in a few weeks.

“The thought of having to go through another operation is giving me anxiety.

“But I’ll do anything that needs to be done. I’ll keep going.”

Form has been sent

Grace confirms she’s received the form from NHS Tayside and will now apply to access her health records.

And NHS Tayside moved to reassure her ahead of her next planned operation.

A spokesperson for the health board says: “Due to patient confidentiality we cannot comment on individual patients and their treatment.

“We would encourage Ms Hocking to contact the service who would be happy to chat to her about any concerns she may have about her upcoming procedure.”

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Lifestyle – The Courier Dundee