|My daily breakfast at 6am. Good spread of meds|
Come 3rd weekend leave, I was given “homework”. My OT has requested for me to cook my parents a meal. Well, my parents had never eaten a meal prepared by me and that is because I didn’t know how to cook when I was back in Singapore. Let’s just say they were probably afraid of being poisoned by me. Convincing my parents that the meal was edible and nice was the least of my concern. Preparing the meal, in a wheelchair, would have the #1 challenge. Cutting and cooking the food with only my right hand was another big task (my left arm was still paralysed). Due to the muscle wastage, carrying the wok was a weight-lifting task. It was heavy, bulky, hard to manoeuvre and I dropped food all over the table. At the end of it, I managed to produce a couple of Asian dishes for the family. I even taught Shina how to cook something simple. No burning of food or my body. No cutting of my fingers. THAT’S GOOD NEWS. Like real good.
My parents were pretty amazed with the meal I cooked, insisting that they would have never imagined it being so delicious. Zac 1 – Parents 0.
Finally came the long awaited day of me getting discharged from the rehabilitation hospital. Its been a day I have looking forward to. Not only was it because I was getting really bored back at the hospital but also for the fact that being discharged meant that I have moved on to the next stage of rehabilitation: to be put back into the real world.
There was also something else that I have been looking forward to: to put my helmet back at the crash site. On the day I was transferred to the rehabilitation hospital (ironically, it is located within 400m from my crash site), I knew I would be able to be discharged one day. What I did not know was if I were to be leaving this place in a wheelchair or on my feet. Nevertheless, me being me, I told myself that I will be walking out of this place, with my own feet and I will, go to the crash site and place my helmet there. I want to have the courage to see that exact drain, to walk down that exact path and put that helmet there. Because, I am UNDEFEATED. I wanted to close this chapter in my life, in decisive head-on rock and roll style (looking back, this is so damn me). And so, that’s what I did. I walked down the crash site, cold chills running down my spine, slowly but surely, I wanted to absorb this moment, to remind myself I am undefeated and I will continue to fight hard, to recover and to live my life to the fullest. I told myself “one day, I will ride down this exact same road towards McGilivary and I will then go and do the next race. It is not over yet.”
|Torture chamber that comes by the name of OT|
|Didnt get discharged with a good score. But to the nursing staff, probably one of the best they have ever seen.|
|Closing the chapter.|
Upon discharged, I was put onto the Rehab In The Home (RITH) program where the OT and PT would visit me a couple of times a week to have rehab with me. I was really looking forward to RITH as I have heard so much about it and how challenging the sessions were. I am always looking forward challenges in rehab. If it doesn’t challenge me, its not helping me. “always challenge yourself”- Prof Landers.
So came the day when I first met my PT. WE did a couple of assessments and we did some exercises before me mentioning to her that I had gym access to the school’s gym across the road. She then decided to have a final exercise with me and that was for us to walk to the gym to see if it was “safe” for me and also assess my fatigue level walking from my room to the gym. Away we walked, walking side by side.
Me: What do you think is the best for me? To increase the distance or to concentrate on my walking gait?
PT: So what are your aims?
Me: I want to recover and run marathons again. In fact, I hope to compete again.
PT: Compete in a marathon?
Me: Yap. I was training really hard before this happened. So I want to work really hard to get back to where I left off.
PT: Zac, you have to be realistic. 42km is a long distance. You might not ever complete it again. Even if you do, you will most probably be struggling. So it might be best for you to realise the reality of things and give up on competing. Maybe completing the marathon will be a good goal to have a couple of years down the road.
I froze. Looked at her and was really saddened.
PT: Just look at you walking from the room to this underpass, you have been limping, struggling to walk, its really not that likely that you will ever compete again. Allow me to be honest to you, you might not walk like a normal person ever again. You will always walk with a limp. So going back to your question, you should just go as far as you can and as you want because I doubt you will get a good walking gait pattern again.
For the first time, I teared. Even now as I type, I can feel the pain, the disappointment and the emptiness in my heart. And she didn’t end there.
PT: We are only half way to the gym and you are already panting and the legs are cramping up. There is no point in working out in the gym. Walking to the gym will probably be more than a workout you can handle. I hope you understand where I am coming from. You should really re-consider your aims and be realistic.
The goal that had kept me going all these while was vanishing right before my eyes. The goal that had made me worked my ass off, performing “miracles” week after week. Is this the end of the journey for me? Is this the truth that I will have bear and to live with, for the rest of my life?
I know life isn’t fair. But this is.. really too hard for me to swallow.
It took me a couple of days to allow the feelings to sink in. Luckily I always liked to prove others wrong. Luckily I have such a big ass ego. Luckily I don’t know how to spell “gife up” (see. I cant spell it).
One night, while I was crying myself in bed, the inner demon within woke up.
“STUPID PT. WHO IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?! I HAVE PROVEN THE DOCTORS BACK AT SHENTON WRONG TIME AND TIME AGAIN, I WILL PROVE YOU WRONG.
So what if you are an expert and have years of experience?
You have not met Zac before.
I am meant to achieve what others can’t. Just because others can’t make it happen, doesn’t mean I can’t. DO NOT GENERALISE ME.
I will defy all odds. I will make it happen. Because I can.
I will make you eat your words. I will make sure I am an outlier in your many years of being an “expert”. I will make sure I will walk properly, start running and do a marathon and send you my freaking timing sheet.
You dare to make such a statement about me on our first visit? Seriously?
My school has taught me never to give up. Nil Sine Labore. Nothing without labour. Hard work triumphs all. I WILL BE BACK.
You know what? MY DETERMINATION HAS NO EQUAL.
Even if I were to crawl across the line, I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. I will do a marathon this year. 2014. I will do it.
I will make you eat your words.
ROCK AND ROLL IS NOT DEAD.”
Ps. Lots and lots of censorship were made. Probably at least once between each sentence.
On Christmas eve, I gave myself the best present ever. On the day of my accident, I set off from my office at Sport Science, towards McGilivary. So I decided to walk myself back to Sports Science. I left after dinner, telling my parents that I am going for a stroll.
1 hour later, I finally reached sports science. Just 2 days ago I was told I couldn’t walk normally. Just 2 days ago, I couldn’t even walk 500m. Today, I managed to walk to Sports Science (~1.6km) and I am going to walk back. This was probably the hardest and longest “endurance exercise” I have done since my accident. To think I was doing 28km within 2 hours just 2 months ago and here I was doing 3.2km in 2 hours. How sudden life changes. Its ok. I was feeling fired up. I had taken my first step. I am going to make this happen.
This will not be the last of me.
|Off to my secret training on Christmas eve 2013|
|The reward? The nice welcome sign I first saw when i came to UWA. I made it back on my own, walking.|