Background and interests:
I was born and raised in Auckland and continue to call it home. Following high school I left for a year to work and travel around Europe, before returning home to attend University to study sport and recreation. Being physically active I played sport and went to the gym during high school and quickly learned that I had a passion for competing in sports and physical activities. Whilst doing my degree, I started to work for Ginny McArthur as a personal trainer. My role involved working with people of all ages and abilities. I taught classes, took group runs, was involved in working with clients completing 12-week challenges, and provided information about the importance of diet and exercise. The role taught me how motivational I could be for others and how important having a motivational coach was in a physical journey. I enjoyed the job so much I continued after completing my degree.
I developed a passion for skiing and running. In 2011, I completed my first marathon, the Auckland Marathon, in five hours. I was two weeks away from completing my second marathon at the time of my accident. My parents were told by the doctors that it was my physical fitness that saved my life.
How I ended up needing rehabilitation at ABI:
I had a very bad car accident driving to work on the morning of my 22nd birthday. The reason for my crash is unclear to this day. The accident resulted in a brain injury and significant physical injuries impacting my ability to walk, talk, and do things for myself.
Biggest rehabilitation achievement to date (can have more than one):
Looking back over my recovery I have many hard-earned highlights. I have been working extremely hard to get walking again. I am now able to stand and walk, the wheel chair is no longer a constant companion. I just always kept trying to improve. One of my biggest highlights was surprising my Dad by walking to him (unassisted) one day at physiotherapy. A moment we were lucky enough to have captured on Seven Sharp.
Other highlights that showed me my progress and gave me independence included: being able to get up and go to the bathroom by myself at night, not always having to be with a caregiver, being able to sit in the front seat of the car (not in the back), being able to walk on and off a plane and not use the wheelchair lift, being able to read a book (and remember what I had read), being able to use a knife and fork to feed myself.
My accident has taught me quite a lot. The most important thing is not to be so hard on myself. I had always been competitive and thought that winning was the most important thing. Now I realise the value of progress and the small steps that lead to success.
I’ve learnt that motivation comes in many forms and that I can motivate myself without being so critical. I now celebrate the small accomplishments.
Aspirations going forward:
My big goal is to help to support others in their recoveries and people struggling with their motivation in rehabilitation.
I would like to be able to start working again, be able to walk unassisted for longer distances, and one day be able to jump into the car and drive myself where ever I like.
Sometimes you need to draw on things for strength and determination to keep working on your rehab. The fact I got a second chance (at life), helps me with the resilience I need and gives me perspective on my accident and injuries. I enjoy life and look forward to what the future brings.
Things that I found helpful:
The rehabilitation journey is sometimes bumpy. These are a few of the things I found helpful along the way. Massage, needling (Physiotherapy), Wetfit, having something to look forward to, time with my dog, hyperbaric, having good people around me, being spoken to like a regular person, being able to spend time with people my own age, taking part in activities that I did before my accident (movies, concerts, bowling, art), spending lots of time with friends. I also think remembering to laugh is very helpful, learning to have a sense of humour about the tough stuff can really help ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’.
Resources that I found helpful:
Positive or inspirational affirmations/memes, YouTube clips of others overcoming challenges to achieve their goals (sports, career), Brain Injury NZ website, Brain Injury Awareness website, New Zealand Brain Injury Support Network, AttitudeLive.com, seeking out therapists that I click with, technology to stay connected with others (Facetime, Zoom, Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp), Facebook page to update others on my progress, sending photos emojis to communicate, visual schedules (whiteboard, calendar), Google Calendar/Digital Calendar with alarms to track my appointments and remind me of what I have planned. Resources that helped me to track my progress included: visual timelines (photo board and videos) of my recovery and accomplishments showing progress over time. I found surrounding myself with a great team to be the best resource in my rehabilitation, this included my friends and family as my cheerleaders and therapists that seemed to ‘get me’.