Wednesday, April 29, 2009

M1 | Day 38

ADVERSITY.....there is no such thing

This very day exactly one year ago my life changed forever.
I was surfing a shore break at St Francis Bay, right next door to Jeffries Bay, on a beautiful sunny morning at around this time....10.45am.

I have been surfing my whole life so I knew what I was doing, but this day was different.

I'd been surfing the backline at the point earlier in the morning and had been in the water for hours so I was pretty tired. Mentally I was ready to head in to my girlfriend and her two and my two little ones on the beach. We were on a 10 day vacation at our favourite spot on the beautiful South African cape coast.

I saw a set coming through and the shore break was pretty big...I'd taken a couple of tumbles but nothing serious when I saw a decent size wave coming through.

I paddled hard, picked up the wave and stood up quickly....with a shore break you have to get up fast otherwise you'll get taken out. As I stood up I realised the wave was too steep but it was too late, I started to go over the was too late to bale out and I got dumped.

I landed head first straight onto an exposed sandbank. Bang...I hit the sandbank with a sickening, bone crunching thud. I heard and felt the bones, and cervical verterbrae shatter and I saw stars.

Immediately I knew I had broken my neck...I also knew it was very serious as I had to hold my head up since it wouldn't stand up on it's own. I was in the most excrucioating pain I had ever felt.

Somehow I got to the beach and managed to get out of the water. My girlfriend helped me to lie down and paramedics were called.

I was stabilised and taken to Port Elizabeth, a hour drive away via ambulance. Large quantities of morphine helped to dull the intense pain but I was alert enough to know I was in real trouble.

The Parademic actually told me that if I didn't lie still I wouldn't make it to the hospital.

X-rays revealed I had what is called a hangman's fracture and had badly damaged C2,3, and 4.

The neurosurgeon, a nice young man said he was sorry but no I could not go home today.
After drilling holes in my head and attaching some scaffolding I was told not to move for two days whilst I stabilised

Two days later I underwent major surgery which involved a spinal fusion and a whole bunch of titanium bits. I felt a bit like a mobile mechano set.

I was transferred to Johanesburg where I contracted Septacemia...a blood infection which can kill you in 48 hours if it's not caught in time.

Op no 2 - another 3 hours and serious pain.

Then a pressure wound in back of my head that wouldn't heal.....Op no 3....plastic surgery to fix the gaping hole left by the pressure wound.

Then persistant infection resulting in Op no open me up and scrub me out again.

Then came some recovery time during which I walked vast distances every day. I wish I was going skiing coz that's what it looked like.

Op No 5.....we decided that after 9 months on antibiotics and feeling terrible through the infection we would remove the hardware in the back of my head....dangerous op, working so close to the spinal chord but the risk was worth it so I made the decision to go for it.

It all worked out and this is what they took out of my head and what my head looked like after the op.

Now the amazing thing about all this is that the above picture taken after my last op was taken in hospital at the beginning of February.

I started gentle training about two weeks after that and then started my RTP-TS transformation.

How's that for miraculous recovery time....Less than two months after my last op I am hard at training getting visible results as is evidenced by my daily pics.

I have no mobility between my neck and shoulders and there are many things I cannot do any more such as running, riding a bike....obviously surfing is a no no, driving a car is difficult.

But....I have long since come to terms with what happened to me....and I can only see postitives. I am alive, I am mobile.....I should be dead, I am able to serve others, which gives me great joy, I am able to contribute to the shreddershphere...I have greater respect for myself and others, I value myself more....and I LOVE AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL.

My reason for writing this was to firstly to celebrate a year of living differently, secondly to illustrate that there is no such thing as adversity....only bumps in the road which we can easily run over IF WE SO CHOOSE.

And finally, I have a question and a challenge, for all of you. If I am able to train with incredible instensity and passion and continuously post 100% compliance......if I am able to do this with discomfort every day and limitations as to what exercises and cardio I can and cannot do.....if I am able to do this with a badly broken neck and no mobility through a spinal fusion and multiple major operations all within the space of the last 365 days.....if I am able to do this successfully, which I am...



Margaret2007 said...

As usual, Dougal, your focus is perfect for what I needed to hear today...I have been sitting here fighting a temptation to eat junk in response to emotional garbage being thrown at me.

I choose to "delete" the issue from my conciousness right now, and let God handle it without me.

Thanks for sharing your amazing life with us.


dougal said...

Margaret it's a pleasure and I'm thrilled that my story came at the right time for you.