SHE is best known for bouncing around the stage in S Club 7, performing their hit singles Reach and Don’t Stop Movin’.
But Noughties pop star Jo O’Meara has told how she may never dance again after a horror back injury meant she was left unable to walk.
Jo O’Meara is best known for singing in UK pop band S Club 7Credit: Redferns
But she has now revealed how she may never dance again after a horror back injuryCredit: SUPPLIED
The singer, 43, woke up last month in so much pain that she felt like she had been shot.
She spent eight days at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, East London, where surgeons removed part of a disc in her back.
Jo was then left reliant on a cocktail of pain medication including up to ten Co-codamol tablets a day on top of other prescription drugs, with even morphine providing little relief.
Recalling how she awoke in agony at 4am in November, she told The Sun: “It was like someone had shot me in the bum.
“It was my right-hand bum cheek. My whole body went into shock. I thought I was having a convulsion.
“The very first thing I did was call an ambulance.
“I was sobbing and shaking. They came running in but I couldn’t move. Every time I tried to get off the bed I was screaming and sobbing in pain.”
Jo has been left with permanent damage to her right leg and faces months of physio before she will be able to return to the stage.
It remains to be seen whether she will ever make a full recovery, as surgeons warned her dancing may not be possible.
She has had a history of back issues — and since her painful episodes returned in September, she has gone under the knife twice as well as having a steroid injection.
During her time in S Club 7, the band had four No1 singles and released four albumCredit: Alamy
They also had a string of TV series and played three headline toursCredit: Rex
Speaking from her bedroom in Romford, where she is currently recovering, Jo explained: “I knew the feeling but it was ten times worse than what I’ve had before.
“Back surgery is so complex and every time they go in, they’re just weakening my back. I was absolutely petrified.
“The surgeons said there was a very good chance of permanent damage to the legs and that I might never dance again.
“I was thinking, ‘Well that’s me done then,’ because standing up on stage and singing Reach is kind of impossible if you can’t move.
‘Ticking time bomb’
“But I laid there and looked at the surgeon and said, ‘Well, what is the alternative? So far I’ve laid in a hospital bed for days wearing a catheter because I can’t walk. So I’ve got to take this chance and hope to God I’m lucky and it’ll be OK’.
“It is heartbreaking when you’re told something like that. But the alternative was even worse.”
Jo had been on a health kick and was trampolining every day, which she believes led to the four bulging discs in her spine.
They had started rubbing against her sciatic nerve, causing her agony.
During her time in S Club 7, the band had four No1 singles, released four albums, had a string of TV series’ and played three headline tours — reuniting for another tour in 2015. She was in the group alongside Rachel Stevens, 44, Tina Barrett, 46, Hannah Spearritt, 41, Bradley McIntosh, 41, Jon Lee, 40, and Paul Cattermole, 45.
The group reunited for another tour in 2015Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Mum-of-one Jo’s nightmare began in September when she woke up in painCredit: Instagram
Despite being in her early twenties at S Club’s peak, Jo was forced to pull out of a string of events due to a similar back issue.
She recalled: “Back in the band I had an MRI scan because I was in pain and it showed that I had two bulging discs.
“The surgeons I saw at the time wanted to operate and take the disc away, but we were so busy with the band and on tour, so they used steroids instead.
“I would have injections and then Tramadol, Diazepam and all of the medications to go alongside it.
“That did seem to do the trick to a certain point. I was missing from a lot of TV shows and I couldn’t dance at the time.
“It was rubbish but I’d been fine since then.
“The band split up and my back just seemed to go completely back to normal.
“But pretty much 20 years to the day it just went bang and all of a sudden, the pain.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like. I couldn’t walk.”
She continued: “I think my back was a ticking time bomb. I think it was always going to go.
“When I went back to the hospital in September, the surgeon that dealt with me 20 years ago was still there and he said, ‘I knew I’d be seeing you again’.”
Mum-of-one Jo’s nightmare began in September when she woke up in pain and had a steroid injection in the hope it would solve her issues.
Jo had a steroid injection in the hope it would solve her issuesCredit: Instagram/jo_omeara
But two days later, things got worse and she underwent keyhole surgery to cut away part of a disc in her back.
A fortnight later, she had an op to remove another piece of the disc and other fragments.
The following month she was rushed to hospital for her most recent procedure.
Jo said: “I’ve been told I do have permanent damage to the right leg. But I can walk. On my knee at the side, it’s like a sore feeling, and when I get up it’s like loads of electric shocks shooting through the leg.
“That’s likely to be there forever. But that’s a small price to pay— that’s how I look at it.”
She is now off pain relief for the first time in three months, but is living in fear that one bad move could send her back to hospital.
“I have to really concentrate even when I cough now,” Jo admitted.
‘It’s like electric shocks’
“I have to think, ‘Right, pull your core in, get in a good position,’ because one wrong cough or sneeze and a disc could shoot through the tear in my tissue.”
Since releasing her second solo album With Love in 2021, Jo has had a busy schedule of solo concerts which she wants to resume.
She said: “I don’t know when it’s going to be, though, because to be on stage, you are dancing around and you are moving.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse than going on stage in flat shoes. I can only hit high notes when I’m wearing a heel. It’s a psychological thing.
“Everything I do, I feel like I appreciate it so much more.
“I used to moan like, ‘Oh I’ve got to go out on a bleeding walk with the dogs again,’ but now I look at it completely differently.
“I think, ‘How lucky am I that I can go out and walk’.”