A NURSE was left in agonising pain after her spine collapsed.

Mary Dennett, aged 65, from Widnes, had been taking pain killers for back pain, not realising she had a serious medical condition, spinal stenonosis, when the space around the spinal cord narrows causes pain and discomfort.

Mary, known to her friends as Wynne, said: "When I was admitted to St Helens Hospital it was a terrifying time.

"I couldn't walk and was worried that I would never regain my independence."

Mary, a nurse for more than 47 years, underwent spinal surgery at the Walton Centre in Liverpool. She spent five weeks on an acute ward after her hip operation. She was moved to an acute rehabilitation ward but was still unable to walk 12 weeks later.

She was then transferred to the Seddon Rehabilitation Unit in St Helens Hospital, which opened last year, to care for people who have suffered traumatic injuries or illnesses.

Their specialist team includes a rehabilitation consultant, nursing staff, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, psychologist, neuro-psychiatrist and dieticians.

Mary spent three months learning to walk and how to do everyday tasks like dressing and bathing.

She had one-to-one intensive therapy to help re-build her life.

She worked with psychologists to cope with the mental strain of such a life transforming illness.

Mary added: "The staff at the unit have been tremendous. I cannot thank them enough for the time and care they have given me.

"The level of support I have received is outstanding. I'm enormously grateful to all the staff , the therapists, doctors, nurses, catering staff and everyone who has helped me through an extremely traumatic time in my life."

Mary says she has formed lifelong friendships with many of her fellow patients.