Global Herbs are delighted to welcome Evie Toombes to Team GH – Evie is an inspiring young para-rider who competes in show jumping competitions in the UK.
“I was born on the 19th November 2001, a healthy looking baby though it was noted I had a red mark at the bottom of my back. It was called a stork mark by the midwife and my parents were reassured I was fine. The following summer it was mentioned to a doctor at Queens Med Nottingham when I was referred due to an enlarged toe!
From then on my life changed. A neurosurgeon ordered an MRI and on my first birthday we were informed that I had a tethered spinal cord with a fatty tumour. The spinal cord was getting stretched as normally, it should hang freely (this is where my bowel/bladder and lower leg problems come from).The medical term for this condition is Lipomyelomeningocele and is a form of Spina Bifida. Further MRI’s followed to determine if an attempt at de-tethering was possible as sometimes the nerves are so entwined it’s too risky to carry out the procedure. After careful consideration and second opinions it was decided to operate as soon as possible. At 16 months old I had my surgery and after nearly 6 hours the surgeon had done as much as he safely could. The fatty tumour remained but he was able to release the cord partially and release some tension on my spinal cord.
After 10 days in hospital I returned home and climbed straight onto the couch – an action impossible before the operation and I was up on my feet, walking around within 3 weeks. I hadn’t learnt this in a hospital cot and I definitely had more movement. I used to bottom shuffle everywhere and never crawled. This stopped instantly.
However it became evident I had bowel and bladder problems and at 31/2 years old, intermittent catheterisation every 3 hours began. It was a difficult step for my mum and dad as I didn’t want it and found it extremely stressful, especially knowing that after every battle the same was due again in a couple more hours. It’s incredible that 10 years on I now accept it as a normal part of my life!
Following a horrendous few years with my bowel not working and suffering numerous accidents often on a daily basis-I’ve just had an ‘ACE’ operation. So far I’m managing a lot better but it’s early days. It used to be normal to go through six changes at a show, yet I’ve now managed six shows without a change!
The one thing I’ve always loved doing, is riding. Luckily my neurosurgeon was happy for me to continue. It really helps my legs and I find that if I don’t ride, they tighten up more. I’m lucky to have found something I love doing so much and I always want to ‘find a way’ to continue whatever I’m struggling with.
I was classified as a Para rider in 2014 after a course builder noticed me struggling and advised my mum. It means I can wear caps and banding to my stirrups to stop my feet getting wedged. Plus I can now compete in Para competition classes.
I get very scared sometimes when my legs go numb suddenly and I often ask mum what’s going to happen. I’m hoping if I stop growing my spinal cord will stop getting stretched, but whatever happens, I know with the help of family and friends I will ‘find a way, not an excuse!’