EVE Drew feared she might never walk properly again.
The Port Fairy resident was a day away from undergoing surgery to end persistent back pain which had plagued her for years.
But the double-level spinal fusion and insertion of a prosthetic disc had its drawbacks.
Drew was nervous.
“The night before the first surgery was a very low point,” she said, recalling a life-changing few weeks in late 2010.
“When the anaesthetist said to me the risks are blindness, paraplegia, all those things you think ‘I’m not sure I want to go through with this’.
“But I couldn’t live with the pain any more, I had no quality of life at that point.”
The pain started when Drew, 33, was a teenager.
By her early 20s she had scans which revealed damage to two discs in her lower back.
Treatment was initially successful, but two years later she found herself unable to walk, the pain even more severe.
The discs had herniated and were compressing nerve roots in her spine.
What followed were multiple cortisone injections, epidurals, massages and acupuncture.
Trips to physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors had become all too regular.
Drew, a podiatrist, remembers the low points — having to cancel a trip to Europe which she had won, spending Christmas Day in an emergency department.
Finally, aged 30 but battling to walk and facing permanent damage to her legs, she opted for surgery.
Two operations, under the guidance of St Vincent’s Private neurosurgeon Brendan O’Brien, confined her to a hospital bed for six weeks.
Months of rehabilitation followed.
“When I was in rehab they said ‘what are your main goals’,” she said.
“I said ‘getting back to work’, being the owner of Warrnambool Podiatry Group, and also ‘to run again’.
“They thought I was a little bit ambitious at the time, but they said if I did the right stuff then maybe.
“That was my goal, to do a five-kilometre run, a 10-kilometre run and now a half-marathon.”
That half-marathon will arrive on October 13.
Drew will run 21.1 kilometres from the MCG to St Kilda and back as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival — and she can’t wait.
She hopes to clock under two hours, less than three years after contemplating life with a permanent limp.
“It took me two years. I’ve been back running for 12 months,” she said. “After the first five-kilometre run I thought ‘I can run again, that’s good’.
“I set myself for the Surf ‘T’ Surf in January. That was a pretty amazing feeling, to get to the 10-kilometre mark. At that stage I set myself for a half-marathon.”
Drew and four colleagues at Warrnambool Podiatry Group will run various distances as part of the festival.
They are raising money for Walk For Life, a charity run by Australian podiatric surgeons which performs reconstructive surgery on children in south-east Asia.
Also running the half-marathon is Drew’s husband Tim, who had given “amazing support” during her ordeal.
“I couldn’t have gone through it without him,” she said.