Pete Watts had always been fit and healthy, but everything changed when he lost the ability to walk in just a few weeks.
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He had served as a Royal Engineer in Bosnia and when he left the Army, he took up mountain biking as a hobby.
But Pete, from Mold, Flintshire, bent to pick up his shoes in November last year and felt a twinge in his back.
By early January the pain was so bad, he could not walk - and he was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome.
It is a rare condition in which the nerves in the lower back suddenly become severely compressed and can lead to paralysis and incontinence if not operated on within hours of diagnosis.
"It was like something out of a movie," Pete said.
"My head started spinning. It was awful. It was this sinking feeling of what is life going to be like?
"People with Cauda Equina Syndrome are left in a wheelchair. People can't walk.
"They can't live their lives. So, it was utterly terrifying, absolutely terrifying."
He underwent emergency surgery to fix a ruptured disc at the base of his spine, not knowing if he would ever walk again.
The next morning, with the help of a nurse, he was able to stand. It gave him hope.