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Surgery in China

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

It was a regular weekday evening and I’d finally plucked up the extra stamina to drag myself to the opposite side of town for my first netball practice in years. I was awfully excited! If you know me you’d know that I’ve had a very steady love affair with netball since I was 9 years old, and we were about to be reunited in China of all places!

I just went to play

On arrival warm up and drills as per standard protocol followed by a series of practice matches. The whistle blew for the final center pass, my position as Wing Attack warrants that I will be the first one to get the ball after the whistle has blown and then guide it to the pole for a goal. As I leaped forward dodging the army of defenders in my path, I felt the imprint of sneaker tracks descend on the back of my right my ankle at maximum force, followed by a fall that I will never forget!

I’m an athletic person, meaning I’ve had my fair share of falls and injuries, but this one was different! As the others hovered around me hoping it was just a sprain, I knew it wasn’t.

Emergency Surgery

Fast forward to the hospital. After the doctor examined me he informed me that it looks as though I’d ruptured my right Achilles tendon and that I would have to have surgery immediately. The news was followed by a series of blurry tests including X-rays and MRI’S to confirm the severity of the rupture, which as it turns out was one of the worst the surgeons had ever come across - 100%+ rupture.

There I was in a foreign country about to undergo pretty major surgery. I made a decision in those moments not to ‘resist’ the experience. Once that was settled in my head I had a deep sense of calm which affected how I dealt with the months that followed.

Road to Recovery

Boy did a pretty life changing series of processes follow in the months after surgery. I was wheeled around in a cast for about 2.5 months, then a boot and crutches for another few months, I had to relearn how to walk and remain positive through it all. There have been many pivotal moments in my ongoing path to recovery; like getting back from hospital and not being able to do anything for myself, and my first day at physiotherapy, not being able to use my toes (forget my leg). There was no way I would be the same person after the daily mini battles I was forced to conquer.

Here’s some of the life lessons I learned in those six months:

1. Save & diversify your income

Being plunged into a recovery period of six months can have serious implications on your finances if your only or main income stream needs you to be physically present. My advice would be to set up an income source that does not need your direct input mentally or physically – this income stream will work for you should you be unable to work for any reason. If you don’t have savings for a rainy six months or more, this adds unnecessary pressure on your recovery process. Make sure you have a very healthy emergency fund that can see you through an infinite time frame to deal with life’s unexpected circumstances.

2. Medical Insurance is a must!

I cannot fathom how I would have survived this ordeal without the gift of medical insurance. The pre-surgery tests, the surgery, hospital stay, weekly checks, wheelchair, crutches, physical therapy etc. In my case, all this wouldn’t have been possible without medical insurance. If it is within your reach to get medical cover, please make it a priority. Even as a freelancer, you can independently apply for medical insurance. Life can turn at any moment and you need to be able to get the best help possible

3. Be thankful

Not to say I was not thankful for my ability to run and walk prior to this experience but I do think that I wasn’t as mindful of what a super blessing it is to be able to use both your legs without giving it a second thought. To run, jump, walk, dance, get a glass of water from the kitchen, get the door, simple things became the hardest things overnight. I also became increasingly grateful for the loving people in my life who were consistently supportive and present.

4. Crisis presents opportunity

It’s cliché but it’s so true “Always look on the bright side of life” When something of this nature happens it’s easy to settle into a dark place, where it’s all doom and gloom. It’s important to acknowledge your sadness when you do feel it, and a good cry can do you the world of good, but don’t build a home in those spaces. Find a bright side and lead with that. In my case, I had so much time on my hands, my brain wasn’t ruptured, and my fingers weren’t broken so there lay an opportunity to do what I love – I wrote as often as I could between naps and physiotherapy sessions. I was even able to make some extra cash with it (which came in handy). I also took this time to deal with some emotional clutter, to pray and meditate. Improve yourself in other ways, do a free online course, read a book, make the most of it. Aim to come out better on the other side of recovery.

If you are in the process of recovering focus on getting better, keep your mind focused on progressive thoughts, rest when you need to and take it one day at a time.

P.S I am so much better now, I can walk and do every day life, I still have to continue with physiotherapy before jumping on trampolines, diving out of planes and rock climbing again:-). Super thankful for every learning curve presented by this journey to recovery.

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