This was my happy place. Although at many times the rehab was long, frustrating and extremely painful, I knew that the end product, the end goal of being functional, would help me live a normal life. To this point, it was a life on the couch, stuffed with medications.
My journey through physical and cognitive therapy was a unique one. After I was finally discharged from the hospital I went home to my Mum’s, where I lived a very basic life filled with daily activities to promote my vitality – simple things like fine motor skills (writing, general coordination) and speech tasks. As the weeks went by I progressed from a wheelchair to being able to do more for myself using the aid of crutches, then slowly progressing to the use of a cane. Upon getting clearance to going into contained waters again, still using walking aids but unable to fully weight bear, my Mum would drop me to the local pool at Mingara of a morning, where I started regaining my strength and learning to swim again as part of a squad class. I did this daily, something I found cleared my head and made me feel normal again being back in the water.
My Parents were my main support and assistance in these early days. I remember my Dad helping attend to my multiple wounds and dressings, even taking it upon himself to remove my stitches when no one else could. To this day I cannot thank them enough for the loving support they have given me over the years. It wasn’t just me that lost of a little bit of themselves through the accident… My Mum and Dad’s lives were also turned upside down.
At this point, I still had to attend rehabilitation at the Hunter Brain Injury Unit in Newcastle for the best part of six months. Not being able to drive, I was assigned a caseworker who would take care of transporting me up to Newcastle several times each week, to continue the extensive monotonous therapy.
Later, after only having to attend the Hunter Brain Injury Unit once a week and obtaining clearance to start pursuing my fitness and physical rehabilitation on my own. A good mate of mine, Greg Hughes, would come and take me to a local globo gym where I would start my quest to functional strength and was first introduced to CrossFit.
This was also the time where I would meet my mentor, Jason Haywood, who would introduce me to the large world of fitness and business. I had previous history in extreme sports like surfing, and also baseball, basketball and general fitness – but I never imagined the idea of merging all sports into one sport and one specific task.
The accident caused me to not be able to drive for some time due to my significant brain injuries and my driving record was altered to state I had incidents against my name. My dream of one day becoming a Firefighter was diminished and my application knocked back as the association viewed my driving record and sustained injuries as a negative aspect in their hiring process.
When I became mentally and physically able to go for my driving reassessment and was able to drive again, I then decided to put fitness on hold and try to reassess my skills as a videographer in the surf industry. Unfortunately, this dream was cut short as the mental demands and confidence that I was now lacking would not allow me to get back into the water among waves of consequence to document what was needed.