Something miraculous happened.
After lying in a hospital bed for days, unable to move or feel the lower half of my body… and while doped to the eyeballs with enough painkillers to drop an elephant… a grenade explode over my hip… figuratively.
Nurses ran for morphine… but in a moment of clarity I told them to stop.
My toes were warm with tingling. I could feel them.
The tingling spread up my calves, my knees released and my spine relaxed. Just like that, I knew everything was going to be ok.
A day later, I couldn’t talk.
If you’re looking for information about Jason - his story follows below. Please note: this expedition is not affiliated with Dystonia.
<<Rewind: From the beginning
2 years ago I was in an endurance cycling fund-raiser. The aim is to ride as far as you can over a month. I was number 2 on the leaderboard second to none other than a friend of mine. A male friend.
I, with the support of a bunch of friends, were committed (overcommitted) to seeing a woman top the board. We came up with a strategy within the rules of the competition, and it was working.
Until I was hit by a car
Three days before the end of the month I had my bike serviced and pimped for the final ride.
On my way home, I was flying.
Then, a ute pulled up to an intersection I was approaching. They saw me and stopped… Waited for me to pass… waited… waited… and then made an error.
They proceeded across the road as I entered the intersection. As they cut me off… they panicked… and stopped. I had nowhere to go.
In those final moments, what insight into life’s greatest questions flashed through my mind?
Well this is inconvenient
I lay splayed on the searing asphalt, unable to move, my memory of the day blank, yet oddly determined to get back on my bike and ride home.
I just need a minute
First on the scene was an ambulance officer on his way home from work.
In moments he was able to take over the emergency phone call from the hysterical driver and convince me that a ride in an ambulance might be a swell idea.
The next two days were hell
I was resistant to morphine. It took 48 hours of trial and error to find a cocktail of drugs to soften the pain.
I wanted company about as much as you do when you’re half way through a bought of gastro. But a good friend of mine (who always knows better) sat by my side anyway… and agreeably disagreed when I told her to look at how cool the Chinese characters embossed onto the ceiling were…
What she didn’t tell me was that I was so full of hallucinations, hospital management had to remove male staff from my ward. Ermmmm #awkward.
>>Fast forward to the moment of clarity
I had spinal inflammation that caused temporary paralysis which was released when the nurses rolled me over during their rounds.
I also copped a fairly severe head injury which had a delayed onset. As I began learning to walk again, I also began to forget words, had trouble pronouncing certain sounds and developed a stutter.
Lucky Mum’s a speech pathologist
Mum came to the rescue. For a while, my brain wouldn’t let me use any figurative expressions. I would say something like; “The ocean lookssssssss flat”. Partly amused, partly frustrated, I would stop mid-conversation and ask Mum to help me figure out what I had wanted to say. “Looks like glass?”, Mum would suggest.
With pained concentration I would struggle to repeat what Mum had said, albeit slowly and with a stutter… but by using this back and forth method I became a lot better, quickly.
My doctor explained the best chance for a full recovery was to put myself in a learning environment where I would also face a lot of decision making. Like for example, travelling the length of the world in countries with foreign languages.
I was determined to continue with the expedition and see how far my body would let me go.
So here I am.
My spine is still a bit glitchy, but my legs work. My memory is patchy, but improving and I stutter when I am stressed or tired – but that’s what patience and a good sense of humour is for.
But the story didn’t end there
I entered rehab. It was tough.
So I booked a flight to cement my goal and kept it a secret for fear of failure, yet optimistic a holiday would be a great compilation.
Betrayal and opportunity
While I was recovering work colleagues were bidding for my job in the hope I wouldn’t be fit to return to work.
The gossip and bullying was so absurd I couldn’t sleep and my recovery began to laps. My doctor told me I needed a resolution or to leave.
I sought help from HR and when they buried it, I felt utterly betrayed.
My doctor wrote me a lengthy medical certificate, told me to take as much sick leave as I had and resign.
With a lot of support from colleagues from other faculties, I was quickly offered an opportunity that not only grew me professionally, but included flexible work arrangements to support my rehab.
I told them about my goal to become the first woman to walk the length of the world and that my intention was to stay for only a year.
How can we support you to make it happen?
They were behind me all the way, still are.
I got better and he got a life sentence
While I was recovering from the trauma, a friend of mine was developing a disorder sending him spiralling in the opposite direction.
Who the hell is Jason?
Jason is a mate of mine. You’d like him.
He’s one of those good looking, 6 pack gleaming, guitar playing, academic overachievers you want a punch in the face… yet he’s so damn nice, you like him anyway.
Jase has copped something far worse than a car to the head. He’s got Dystonia. Not much is known about it. It’s not a fashionable topic to research in the medical world.
But… it’s a condition affecting young people. It causes Tourette like twitching that hurts so much he can’t sleep. The spasms don’t stop. They happen all day, every day, forever. Or that was the prognosis when he was first diagnosed.
Here’s what it looks like: WARNING this is pretty full on.
The good news
Jase has an opportunity for a full recovery. But it’s housed in a medical institute overseas. #Costly
Jase doesn’t like asking for help. He doesn’t want to look like a greedy little emotional vampire. But since I’ve told you guys far worse things, I figured I could wear that badge for him.
Here’s what I’m doing
Treatment is over 6 months and he can’t afford it. But he also can’t live with Dystonia so I’m going to support him over the period by giving up something hard to live without.
I’m giving up 6 months of my accommodation budget to contribute towards his 6 months of treatment.
WTF?… I don’t need it. I have a tent.
Here’s what you can do.
Rather than buy me chocolate this month (oh god), give it to Jase instead. Or think of something in your budget you can go without, and give him that.
Let me know what you’re giving up… and make sure you tell him I sent you so I can #EmotionallyBlackmail him into walking with me for a stretch when he’s better!
Nice view (who said that?!)
Accommodation in South Korea Anyone?
Accommodation is a big part of the cost so if you know someone who lives in South Korea who knows someone, who knows someone… contact me if they’re keen to host him.
And on that… I enjoy showers, so if you know someone in my neck of the woods… Since I just quit accommodation – same goes.
Which brings me back to the moment of clarity
Why am I asking you to help someone else when I’m clearly accident prone and can do with all the support I can get?
1) Giving our mates a hand (even when we don’t want it) is what us Aussies do (apparently), and
2) The moment my legs came back online was the most precious moment of my life. I want Jas to have the same moment of clarity – the moment he’ll know everything is going to be alright 🤘
More info on Jase’s fund-raising page
WANNA SUPPORT THE JOURNEY?
I’m afraid you’ll have to read another post to get deets on how to get on board… This one’s for Jase.
Thanks for all your support! It’s the primary reason I’m still out here… With a pimped up pack. #TheBeast< b><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<