Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every week for Huddersfield Hub.

If you’re feeling a bit under the weather at the moment – this story might assist your recovery.

Elaine and I have lived in Spain for a long time and made regular use of the National Health Service here – SNS, which has a reciprocal arrangement with the UK to pay for treatments.

I have used it to have various skin cancers dealt with, something I stupidly and regrettably acquired during the building of a house years back, using little cover and no cream in brutal temperatures.

This week I met up with a friend who lives on the same urbanisation – Sean Thacker, who was walking cautiously with crutches one morning, wearing a massive chest brace.

He told me he was recovering well from a major operation and was willing to share his epic surgery with readers…

Sean, a 6ft 2in healthy married man who played golf off 7 and soccer for local teams back home, was head of operations for a law firm called CLA and travelled worldwide making an average of 150 flights per year.

READ MORE: Brian Hayhurst’s greatest mistake and how it also led to skin cancer

Everything came to a halt last Christmas Eve as he began to move furniture in their apartment. Sean felt a click in his lower back and was wracked with pain.

After numerous visits to our local clinic and, by now, barely able to walk he was referred by specialist surgeons immediately to undertake an intricate spinal operation to the always busy Costa del Sol Hospital, 7km from Marbella.

There they discovered he had broken his back in five places and was suffering osteoporosis. Sean spoke of an incredible team of surgeons who decided not to inform him how they were going to tackle the injury.

His wife Lenka – a qualified nurse, speaking five languages – signed the consent forms and not being sure how the op might go, surgeons recommended inviting close relatives over. (Thinking ahead if it came to the worst!)

Sean Thacker in hospital

The 11-hour operation began by cutting down his left side from his armpit to below his stomach. They deflated his lungs, took out his stomach and intestines etc and began fitting plates and bolts to the lower spine from inside!

After putting the organs back and sewing up, they began to work from the outside of his back, fitting more plates on his already fragile bone structures.

The Costa Hospital is amongst the best in Southern Spain and, despite being in the middle of the pandemic, were able to allow Sean to recover for over two months with superb on-going care.

He said: “The entire nursing team was incredible and I welcomed the occasional food parcel delivered by Lenka but sadly I was not able to see anyone throughout my stay.”

He added: “The pain was excruciating and I had on-going access to morphine I could administer with a button but was eventually allowed back home.”

It was mid-April this year that he awoke with similar sickening pains throughout his back and was taken by ambulance at midnight to the hospital where they decided another operation was needed as he had developed septicaemia and had to be opened up again!

After they had cleared out the disease and administering 3600ml of antibiotics during a two-week stay, he was again allowed home. Sean is now well on the recovery road.

What an amazing story.

READ MORE: Brian Hayhurst writes every week for Huddersfield Hub – read more of his blogs here