2012 was a tough year for me. Things came to a head in August when I found myself within hours of losing my entire left leg. Looking back now, I had a pretty good idea that things weren’t as they should be the day I noticed my foot was slightly off colour. I had already been spending hour after hour at a rehabilitation centre following two spinal surgeries for extensive nerve damage. Time spent with family and friends was already at a bare minimum and so I carried on until the worst happened and I awoke one morning with no feeling in my leg from the hip down.
I was no longer able to control any part of my leg; it had no strength and worst of all I had lost control of my bladder and bowel. Things had hit boiling point.
My initial thought upon waking was that I must have slept on my leg in a strange position. When I fell to the floor trying to get out of bed I knew something wasn’t right. My mind was racing. I went immediately into overdrive and made my way directly to hospital. The news was not something I was prepared for. The blood pressure in my leg was low, dangerously low.
After what felt like hours and countless doctors consultations I was told that the safest option was to amputate my leg from the knee down. I begged the doctors to hold off! Just one day. We argued to the point of exhaustion… I won!
The next day, the blood pressure in my leg had risen just enough for it to be considered moderately stable. It was still slightly blue but with a lot of hard work it had every chance to make some sort of recovery. I could live with that! And so, exercise was the order of the day. (Exercise was considered a vital component to recovery as it would help improve the blood flow.)
Before the initial back surgery I had spent the previous five years living a very active lifestyle through my involvement in representative cricket for both NSW in the Women’s National Cricket League and Middlesex CC in the English Premier League Competition.
After deciding to give the 2012/13 season a miss following my second back surgery, I reignited my love for exercise when joining my local gym just two months before that dreaded morning. After two weeks off following my desperate hospital visit, I returned to the gym and got stuck straight back into it. I exercised and exercised and exercised some more. I had previously gained the help of a personal trainer. Marnie was brilliant to me. Nothing was ever too hard and somehow she managed to think of different ways to get me training again, even with the difficult challenge she had in creating workouts that would get me sweating without the use of an entire leg! Twice a week I would climb the stairs on crutches to the gym, have a training session and then have my brother carry me back down the stairs and take me home. It was these two people that made me realise just how lucky I was to have the help of a lot of great people. They both kept me on track and I will never be able to thank them enough.
Throughout all of this I continued to hold down my full time job whilst also travelling to rehab three mornings a week for two hours before work, as well as overnighters in rehab on weekends.
I lasted two weeks before the pressure in my leg dropped dangerously low again. In early September I was given a two week deadline by the doctors. I had two weeks for the pressure to reach a stable point or they would cease treatment, resorting to a full leg amputation shortly after. That was probably the worst day of all on this journey. I remember calling my brother to tell him the news. I fell apart. I had not only lost control physically, but also emotionally. I don’t ever recall feeling that broken. My brother held me in my exhausted state and slowly, after nearly drowning in my own tears first, I gained some strength back.
I had two choices. I could choose to give in and give up, or I could choose to fight. I fought. I found myself in the gym at all hours of the day… 2am, 3am, 4am. Sleep was no longer a friend of mine and I was going to win this fight.
Within less than 24 hours of the deadline the doctors had imposed, it was found that I had been bleeding internally for what could possibly have been months. The blood had been pooling in my stomach and consequently the blood flow was minimal. The extensive nerve damage in my leg meant that the limited blood supply had no longer been reaching my leg.
After four months of full time rehabilitation, a lot of pressure tests, pools and gym work, my leg is now in a much better state, although I currently live with a slight limp… but hey, nobody is perfect! ?
I was and am lucky enough to have the support of a lot of really great people. Some of them I have known for years, some I have met along this journey.
I am now raising money for Limbs 4 Life as I know there are a lot of people out there facing the same life changing situation that I was faced with. Sometimes it is without much warning at all.
Along my road to recovery I believed that everything would be okay as long as I could complete just one Burpee! I even mastered the art on one leg while I continued my rehab program.
So, between us, on April 21 at Mortdale Fire Station, my friends and I pledge to complete one Burpee per every dollar pledged to Limbs 4 Life. Burpees are considered to be one of the most physically challenging exercises to complete. Training has already commenced for us to take on this challenge and my team and I urge you to donate generously to this great cause!