I’ve been asked to shoot through an update for everyone about my injury.
Well, firstly I have to once again send out a massive thanks for kind words from everyone, the contact from old friends and random well-wishers. It’s just been really nice to receive this kind of support.
It’s been 14 weeks since my injury at Mystics. I suffered six compression fractures in my back (t1-t6) and a spinal process fracture to the c5 in my neck. I’m still thanking my lucky stars that my spinal cord was untouched. I know that other bodyboarders have not been as lucky as I have. Life is so crazy sometimes and really, anything can happen at anytime, so I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this is to always be thankful for what you have, cherish your body, and live every day to it’s fullest! I know it sounds cliche but it’s simply reality.
The recovery process has been going great. The first two months I pretty much spent in bed; reading, relaxing, and educating myself as much as possible about my injury. I was also really conscious to not only rest but to eat the right kinds of foods for bone and muscle repair, I’ve also been taking supplements for joints and muscles, and then slowly easing my way back into training, stretching and exercise.
It’s actually been pretty nice to have a break from bodyboarding anyway and focus on other amazing aspects of life. No more dawn surfs, I simply enjoy watching the sunrise, catching up with friends, and I’ve really taken to going on lots of little hiking adventures.
I can’t risk any kind of impact or wipeouts, and was also advised that swimming is super beneficial, so I’ve taken to swimming around doing laps in the ocean with my GoPro in hand, snapping off water shots as I go. So much fun. I could get into this photography thing! Ha.
I’ve been receiving varying opinions about how long I need to recover, and I think the biggest theme everyone has been pushing is, don’t rush it!! Bones heal in three months, but full strength after this kind of injury can actually take years. I’m hoping that because I am being very disciplined with my stretching and exercises and diet that I can get enough strength and stability to be able to surf my favourite kinds of waves in a matter of months, or just as soon as possible…
I’ve learnt to be really astute with what my body is telling me. Keeping within my pain limits has been key. And I’m definitely not going to risk anything.
I went for my first surf a week ago at the Farm, which is just around the corner from Mystics and also known as the gentler brother. No barrels or wedges or anything too exciting, but it just felt amazing to simply paddle around on my board. It felt so surreal to lay on a board again! I caught a couple of wave and did some cutbacks and spins. Exciting stuff! ha. I have to be honest though, I felt really rusty out there, and I could still feel some pain in my chest and back so I haven’t returned for another surf and am just focusing on further increasing my mobility and strength training.
So…. The big thing everyone wants to know is, will I return for the remaining events on the Women’s World Tour??? To be honest, I’m still not sure…
After my lucky win at Pipeline at the start of the year, I considered giving up on the tour this year, because really, what could be better than a Pipe win!!? But then I thought more about it, and got that niggling feeling of “what if this year is my year to win the tour?” My boards are feeling amazingly dialled in, my competition mentality feels super strong, and I was feeling like I was surfing the best I ever have…. Obviously this little incident has proved to be a major setback, but, coincidentally, the Women’s World Tour hasn’t had any events since Pipeline, and even Brazil was recently cancelled for the women, and it’s like it almost feels as though I have some little angels holding the tour off for me until I’m ready…. But maybe I’m just imagining that… Definitely wishfully thinking…
The next contest for women is in five weeks time at Antofagasta, Chile. August 26-30. It’s a pretty darn good wave for a women’s event and I managed a third there last year. But it’s also a super cold water wave that holds a decent size, throws a chunky barrel, supplies a very inviting lip to hit, and also features a rocky ledge underneath… It’s a wee bit dangerous. I’m honestly not certain whether I should go…
So, as I mentioned, I’m listening to my body, and I definitely know that right now my body is saying no, BUT if, by chance, I do feel a significant improvement in the coming weeks I will reconsider going….
If it’s not to be, I will skip Chile and wait another month for the SIntra Pro in Portugal. If I can do well enough in Sintra and the remaining events, I can afford to skip Antofagasta….
But, of course, if I’m still not strong enough for Sintra, my third option is to simply give up on the idea of finishing the World Tour this year and work on getting strong again for a possible return next year…
I keep trying to work out if it’s simply my ego trying to hold on to finishing the world tour, try and claim that coveted world title trophy.
I’ve had plenty of time to think with this injury and really, will winning the tour change my life? Will it make me a better person? Will I make a million dollars? Nooo, I know all that’s not true, but I do know that a world title becomes a big thing for us athletes simply because it’s the best reward for all that hard work we put in. To actually accomplish that massive goal we set out to achieve. I think it’s a pretty awesome goal to have, and if you are (maybe, just maybe) good enough, then you simply have to go for it, because if you don’t go for it, then you’ll always wonder…
I love that competing has helped me so much over the years to inspire me to train harder, surf in all conditions, develop a clear and committed mindset, and then probably the two biggest things that I love most about the world tour, is the fact that I have met so many amazing people on tour, wonderful souls that share the same passion, and also that the tour has been the best excuse ever to leave the comfort of home and explore the world…
So, what to do… Do I want to push myself to go for this world title? Hell yes! But I know I need to be smart about this, and risking a lifetime of back and/or neck problems is not worth it.
I can’t confirm right now whether you will see me at the remaining events on tour. I can confirm that I am working hard on my recovery, and as always, keeping positive and hoping for the best!
I have to send a big shout out to Peter Hogg, The Australian Olympic team physio who happens to also be a spinal specialist and the wife of my bikini sponsor, (Kat from Hive Swimwear). What a legend couple! Peter has kept me on track with some truly beneficial exercises and stretches http://www.noosasportsphysio.com.au
Big thanks also to Ben at Boogerbod for the bodyboarding specific exercises, I’m super stoked with how everything is going right now! http://www.boogerbod.com
Bounce Foods kindly helped me out with a stack of great protein powders and energy balls, exactly what I needed for muscle repair, thanks so much guys! http://www.bouncelifestyle.com
Des at Emerald, Corio at Flipmode, Alison at Travel Insurance Direct, Ryan at Zion and Graham at Treehugger, thankyou so much for the continued support.