At 28 years of age learning how to walk is definitely not on the list of things to do. But that wasn't going to stop me from doing City 2 Surf!
You would think that learning to walk again as an adult would be a piece of cake. That you could get up after brain surgery and 4 weeks of being bed ridden and just remember how to put one foot in front of the other.
I wish it was that simple.
After undergoing a 7 hour craniotomy (open brain surgery) in late 2010 that affected my nose, ear and throat region, I was bed ridden for almost a month. The pain was unbearable, like a 10t boulder landing on your head repeatedly without warning.
Following the surgery and pain management came rehabilitation and recovery. To say I'm recovered even 6 years on, would not be true. But I'm still working on improvements every day. The first area to work on was physical - I needed to learn how to walk and talk again.
My rehab nurse would visit my room twice a day. She would strap me onto her waist and instruct me to put one foot in front of the other. The first week was excruciating - I thought my legs were going to crumble underneath me, that my head was going to fall off. I could barely manage 5 steps from the bed to the door.
I didn't want to continue doing this. I was done.
As the weeks continued, I gradually got better. I remember when the nurse told me "swing your arms Leola!" I laughed on the inside, how could I not know to naturally swing my arms? Time went by and I progressed from a wheelchair to a walking frame. 3 months on and I was walking on my own, but still needed 24/7 care around at all times.
It would've been around April 2011 and I said to myself, I want to do City 2 Surf. Yep, I could barely walk on my own but I was about to enter myself into a 14km race. Sounds like me.
I worked hard to get my walking technique back up to speed and learnt to run without assistance. I used videos at home to do aerobics and I signed up with a personal trainer to regain my muscle that was lost. There was a lot of hard work done to get me on my feet again. But you can only achieve something when you are determined to get it.
When I did the City 2 Surf I was terrified. I thought I would run out of air in my lungs, that my head would explode (again) and that my legs would just give way - but they didn't. I survived that too and was super proud of my achievements.
A few lessons I've taken away from losing the ability to use my legs are;
- Your body is a temple. It needs to be treated (and maintained) like the amazing machine it is.
- You don't know what you've got till it's gone - it doesn't have to be that way!
- If your legs work - WALK. Too many people are unable to use various / all parts of their bodies. If you're able to use yours, then please do.