47-year-old who was left unable to walk tells of how Chinese medicine aided his recovery

At the age of 25 Phil Calvert  woke up in excruciating pain discovering he could not move his hips or knees.
At the age of 25 Phil Calvert woke up in excruciating pain discovering he could not move his hips or knees.
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AT 25, Phil Calvert was one of the city’s top rugby players, training alongside Gavin and Scott Hastings for Watsonians and with a promising future in the game.

That was until the day he woke up in excruciating pain, terrified to find he could not move his hips or knees.

Phil Calvert was playing regular rugby alongside players such as Gavin and Scott Hastings for Watsonian's RFC and had a bright future in the game.

Phil Calvert was playing regular rugby alongside players such as Gavin and Scott Hastings for Watsonian's RFC and had a bright future in the game.

He was rushed into hospital at first doctors had no idea how this fit young man had been left unable to walk.

It was a private orthopaedic consultant who eventually diagnosed Phil with psoriatic arthritis – putting an end to his rugby-playing career.

The active tighthead prop was shattered by the news and was resigned to a zimmer frame and walking sticks, a time he refers to as the “lowest point in his life”.

At his lowest ebb, after months of agonising pain, he was reduced to tears during a bus journey.

He got off outside a Chinese medical centre on the Royal Mile and saw an advert for treating arthritis which changed his life forever.

The now 47-year-old said: “I was told by a consultant that it might be something in my back and he told me that I probably wouldn’t walk again. I was absolutely devastated.

“I was an active young man who loved playing rugby and to be told that I just didn’t know what to do.

“I was stuck using a zimmer frame and walking sticks to get around which was awful.

“I had a flat in Leith and it was a stressful time for me. Those were some hard days and my illness was taking over.

“The Chinese expert said they’d have me back walking properly in six months and I said ‘I’ll hold you to that!’”

Phil was given herbal treatment which he described as “bark”. And having mixed with water and drinking it for six months, Phil was remarkably walking unaided again.

He added: “The medication was vile, disgusting stuff. My wife would come in and would be retching at the smell. I was very ill and was in a dark place.”

He then had the job of teaching himself to run again three years later – a surreal experience for anyone.

Phil has built himself back up to fitness and is now a personal trainer and a master trainer at Life Fitness.

He has now embarked on a mission to run the equivalent of a marathon each week in 2018 – the distance of running from Edinburgh to Gibraltar – in aid of My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

The charity was established by former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir, who suffers from motor neurone disease. My Name’5 Doddie Foundation raises funds to aid research into the disease and supports fellow sufferers.

Phil runs 42km across five days each week on the streets of the Lothians or in one of the Edinburgh Leisure centres.

The Cousland resident’s target is £5200 and, after completing the first quarter of the mission, he is as determined as ever to reach his goal.

He said: “People thought I was mad deciding to do this.

“Being an ex-prop, I am not built for distance running. I was told I couldn’t do it but I have a chip on my shoulder and I am determined to prove people wrong.

“Doddie is outstanding for what he does for others. He has motor neurone disease but he puts all his energy into helping others and making good out of it.

“My times are coming down and I feel like I’m getting fitter. Some days my legs feel like lead but I will do this.”

You can support Phil by donating online at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/5252mndoddie5

You can follow his progress on Twitter @5252MNDoddie5.