I Fractured My Spine At The Gym And This Is What I Learnt

Despite being relatively small and insignificant to the naked eye, behind this tiny scar lies much more than an intricate assembly of titanium. It hides tears of fear and frustration, unfathomable physical pain, struggle and disappointment, determination strength and an unrelenting stubbornness to not let it affect my life. In January 2013 after a freak accident at […]

by | Jun 1, 2017

Despite being relatively small and insignificant to the naked eye, behind this tiny scar lies much more than an intricate assembly of titanium. It hides tears of fear and frustration, unfathomable physical pain, struggle and disappointment, determination strength and an unrelenting stubbornness to not let it affect my life.

In January 2013 after a freak accident at my local gym (sweaty palms caused me to slip off a high pull-up bar mid-kip) I lay in a hospital bed terrified that I was never going to walk again. My diagnosis at the time was hard to fathom. I had sustained an unstable burst and chance fracture to my thoracic vertebra requiring immediate spinal surgery to stabilise; a fractured skull, dislocated shoulder and mild traumatic brain injury, which caused me to lose my sense of smell for six months. Without surgery there was little chance I would be able to walk again.

I spent only a week in hospital, however the recovery was much longer. Adjusting to home life was a struggle. It’s not until you physically are incapable of moving without pain that you realise how much you have taken your body for granted. I couldn’t walk further than 50 metres without debilitating pain. Regardless, that did not stop me trying. The day I made it around the block was one of celebration.

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I sported a Jewett brace for five months and had to accept the fact that I wasn’t able to exercise; general life tasks, like getting out of bed, a chair, and in and out of the car were hard enough. As the time dragged on I became more impatient and probably drove my physiotherapist insane. As soon as the brace was removed I increased my activity, more than my physio liked, pushing myself harder than she felt I should. I was sent me back to my surgeon who put me on a complete activity restriction for a further three months. After nine months I was allowed to swim – only twice a week, and for no longer than 30 minutes. At my 12-month surgical follow-up I was finally was given the all-clear to get moving again. I threw myself in and god, it was hard. After months of inactivity and poor mobility due to the surgery, I was a shell of my former self. Then there was the pain.

It took a couple of years to start trusting my body again and recognising good pain from bad. To not burst into tears when trying something new. Or beat myself up for feeling weak and useless, and like I was never going to be the same again. Sometimes, I would push myself too much physically, other times I would push too much psychologically. My life became about finding balance. How to dance on the edges without letting myself fall in. Bit by bit I fought my way back. I learnt to accept the emotions, acknowledge them and allow them to wash over me. I learnt to listen to my body, to rest when I needed, to stop when I needed.

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We all have moments in life that push us back, that change the direction we thought we were going in. It’s how we cope with that change that will define how we move forward. I chose to make the best of the worst situation – lots of things in my life had to change as a result. There was so much turbulence for a couple of years, which at times felt unbearable. I hung on for dear life (as did those around me) and then when the turbulence finally settled I realised this:

  • Life is there to be enjoyed. Yes, even the bad. There is always a silver lining, I promise that it makes the good so much better.
  • Be flexible with your goals, work towards them but don’t live and die by them.
  • Be guided by your heart. Choose to do what you love, never compromise. Life is too short.
  • Seek other opinions, never accept being told you can’t do something. There is always an alternative, always another point of view.
  • Listen to and treasure your body. You only have one, so treat it with the respect it deserves.
  • Some days suck more than others. It is OK to wallow, to feel sorry for yourself and be the victim for a snippet of time. Just don’t stagnate in the drama and make that your life mantra. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keeping moving forward.
  • Things will always seem hard, near on impossible at times. You might feel like you’re not making progress, or that you take one step forward and another two back. When you look back down that path in 12 months’ time you will see how far you have travelled.
  • Our past is what makes us who we are, but it shouldn’t define us. It’s there for reflection, to remind us of the struggles we’ve faced, how far we have come and our strength to push through. 

It has been a tough slog, but never along the way did I allow myself to give up. There were so many valuable lessons I may never have learnt had the accident not happened. And although frustrating – had it not happened I would have graduated from my physiotherapy degree last year – I also would never have opened two gyms, nor be surrounded by an amazing community of unbelievable people, who inspire me every day.

Despite not knowing what the future has in store for me or my spine, and with the impending fear of further surgery, this little scar is a constant reminder to live my life to the fullest, to push my boundaries and enjoy every day that I have on my legs, because in the future I may not have the same opportunities I do today.

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People Are Sharing The Relationship Red Flags They Wish They’d Seen On Twitter

Dating is a minefield. With social distancing restrictions still largely in place, it’s fair to say that most of us are resorting to the apps when it comes to making a lasting connection - or simply looking for a short-lived good time. But even then, the platforms are fraught with their own challenges. From bios that offer a scattering of emojis and one-liners that leave little to be desired, to the profile pics that are at least a decade old, red flags are bound to come up even before you’ve met in person. But where things truly get interesting is in the dating phase. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship to see it end badly can likely admit that the thing that saw you end it, was probably also one you saw coming from the start. These relationship ‘red flags’ present themselves early on, but of course, in the throes of buddying romance, we ignore them, our rose-coloured glasses turning the red into a warm and inviting shade of pink. 

Thankfully, those on Twitter are here to ensure you spot the red flags early in order to avoid the devastation that comes with wasted time and a broken heart. The red flag emoji has been taking over the Twitter world as people share the range of red flags they know now to avoid in relationships and dating. These are the warning signs in what people say and do that signal something more unfavourable, and in some instances such traits can even lead to deeper, even abusive characteristics. 

According to data released by Twitter, between October 10th and 13th, the app saw a 21 per cent increase in the red flag emoji usage, with a staggering 1.5 million tweets shared during this time. It appears that when it comes to red flags, we’ve all seen them and can either relate or offer up our own advice. While some of the Tweets can only garner an aggressive head nod in appreciation, others are more lighthearted and show the intensely personal nature of dating whereby something that might not affect someone else, proves disastrous for another. For instance, one Twitter user shared the Tweet, “I got an Android” and to be honest, yeah, we get it. Who wants to be living in that world of GREEN TEXT! Another shared, “Shrek is not that good.” Disliking Shrek? It’s impossible. 

Below are some of the best examples of the red flag Tweet we’ve seen.