I’ve had several major injuries, but it took decades to learn how to manage pain and go through it to the other side.
At 14 I was struck in the back with heavy machinery on a farm, which temporarily paralysed me. I made a full recovery until becoming a competitive show jumper, when the weakness in my back caused pain into the night and sometimes the next day.
At the age of 21 while competing in a show jumping event my horse fell on top of me, which damaged my ribs, spine, pelvis and coccyx. The top and bottom of my pelvis had to be pulled back into place, ending up on a slight angle.
I had grown up believing you just ignore pain and tough it out. So that’s what I did.
Then in my 30s I was re-educating a horse when it lashed out at its owner, breaking my hip in the process. I couldn’t use my left leg for two months. I didn’t want a hip replacement so I decided to look for alternatives.
A sports doctor found that one of the nerves in my back had become trapped, and with some work it was released. For the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t in pain every day.
I did physiotherapy and worked on my core strength and fitness, and began doing weights, which helped my body become more symmetrical.
Next came a paragliding accident. Spending four months in hospital, for me it was a turning point. The accident did so much damage, doctors were able to straighten my pelvis. And with my knowledge about rehabilitation, I was now in a better position to recover.
Rehabilitation was exhausting. The first time I did a yoga class I slept for five hours afterwards. But I knew it was the right thing to push through the pain.
Strengthening my body allowed me to get back to work, and back into life. I’ve done so much rehabilitation, I’ve even had some pins and rods removed from my spine.
I keep improving my body because I want to get as much mobility and strength back as possible. If I don’t, my body will seize up and the pain will be worse. Keeping myself fit and healthy means not letting pain limit my life.