Striving to Achieve

There’s a giant part of me that people either don’t know exists or they don’t understand how it exists within me. That part that coexists with my illnesses and disabilities is my athleticism. That’s right, I’m sick and disabled but I’m also an athlete.

 

Before everything went downhill I was on the Australian Development Squad for Taekwon-Do with big plans for my future.

I was so focused on representing my country and doing my best to win gold in Spain first before moving onto more. But there are people I consider best friends who have never known that I held such potential at some point in my life.

 

Osgood Schlatter Disease (OSD) in my right leg was the first bump in the road to Spain. At first it seemed like a small blip until it came to a point where I had to learn to walk again. I engaged in intense physiotherapy regime, learned how to walk, learned how to live with my knees disease and gained my strength back to be able to return to the sport that owns my heart.

 

Then epilepsy reared its ugly head into the situation along with some symptoms that were undiagnosed at the time but we now know are from Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). Some say that given the high contact level of the sport and the potential knocks to the head meant I had to give up the sport then and there. That wasn’t going to happen on my watch. Protective headgear wasn’t a requirement at the time but it became a personal requirement for me. I trained harderthan my team mates to be able to dodge head attacks specifically. I was already quick on my feet and fast at calculating somebody else’s moves and my countermoves but I worked hard at perfecting the craft so I could truly protect myself. I learned to listen to my body better than anybody else on my team, I had to listen and learn what my body could and couldn’t handle so that I could continue at the sport I adored while staying safe. 

I trained at least twice as hard as my team mates, learnt things they didn’t bother with, just to keep up and keep safe.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) made multiple appearances and took me out of the game on many occasions but I always came back. I worked my butt off in intense physical therapy regimes to get to where I wanted to get to. I’d go into remission just to fall back into its evil clutches and have to learn to walk again while my team mates progressed in their learnings and competing. I think this part has been the biggest hurdle mentally. This time I wasn’t working twice as hard to keep up, I was working three times as hard to get back to where I was at. By this point I had been removed from the team with my spot on the team reserved should I ever be able to make it back. Most people would’ve given up at this point and I don’t blame them, I’d be lying if I said I’d never been tempted to give up, but I wasn’t ready to give up at any CRPS hurdle I faced. I currently face the arguably biggest CRPS hurdle yet and you can ask my Sabomnim (instructor) I am still determined to catch up, be the best Jeja(student) and make it onto the national team again. Even as I can’t currently physically participate in classes I still play a big role in keeping my fellow jeja’s on their feet because I spend my extra time studying theory and challenge them to keep up with me. I also have the most competition experience and get to share that with them and push them to do better. I’m forever grateful that I’ve been able to surround myself with wonderful Sabomnimand fellow Jeja who give me these opportunities that keep me engaged and full of determination.

 

I also dance at the most welcoming and understanding studio that I’m also thankful for. Thanks to FND I currently need to learn how to walk and use my left leg again. I’m also still dealing with the aforementioned mess of CRPS. I’ve already missed so much recently but the studio owner/instructor and my dance family are so supportive and remind me to focus on overcoming this hurdle so that I can dance again. They know I’ll make it back to them and don’t rush me which is the best daily reminder I could possibly receive, especially the reminder to not rush myself. In dance I still have to apply a lot of what I’ve learnt throughout the years in regards to my OSD, epilepsy, asthma, FND and CRPS. It’s not an easy sport for anybody but my body has made it harder and thankfully my dance family understand that. They know as much as I do that I’ll probably be back in the studio slightly too early before I’m supposed to be back but I’ll be back and fighting to do my best when the time is ready for me and we all know it.

It’s not easy and I still have to do things differently or pay different attention to my body but I’m still there.

 

The point here is this is shocking news to a lot when it shouldn’t be.

In an era where events like “The Paralympics” exist and are gaining more attention we still expect people to give up all athleticism the second they get sick or gain a disability. The abled society expects us to just give up even when we don’t have to. Some people are in situations where they can’t keep going on with their sporting ventures or they make the decision to put it aside but there are still people that can keep going they just have to do things differently.

 

We also automatically treat the people who continue with their sporting endeavours as irresponsible as though they don’t go above and beyond to keep their bodies safe. The other side of that coin is treating those who don’t have athletic projects as not caring for their body because we believe that yoga fixes everything.

 

We need to listen to people from all unique walks of life and respect that they know what their body can handle, that they know how to adjust things to suit their needs. We need to create a safe environment for ill and disabled people to discuss exercising, or not exercising, in a way that leaves them feeling connected, listened to and respected. The current style of discussion leaves people not wanting to talk about it. There will be people who are shocked but proud that I have persisted and people who believe I’m endangering myself when they know nothing about the extra precautions I take to protect my body while still enjoying what I love to do. Some will simply say I’m faking all of my illnesses and disabilities if I’m able to do what I do. This is not the environment we deserve to be stuck in. I work my butt off to keep up with my peers and I deserve to be able to talk freely about that without judgment and accusations. I should be able to talk about it the way any other athlete talks about their experiences; the highs, the lows and everything in between.

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Introduction to the 12 Days of Blogmas

You’ve most likely heard different versions of 12 Days of Christmas, from the children’s song to the oh so iconic 12 Days of Giveaways with Ellen DeGeneres, now it’s time to get ready for the 12 Days of Blogmas with Purple Adventures. This is something I hope to make an annual event.

 

Starting on December 14th, every day leading up to Christmas I’ll be posting a new blog entry. Some days the topic may feature festive tones while others may be quite solemn. Think of it as an advent calendar of blog content. Although there will be Christmas themes throughout, I hope that those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas can still relate to or learn from the main messages I will discuss and that you enjoy this flow of new content after such a dry spell leading up to now.

 

I had planned to do so much more with my blog this year but as you’ve seen, other than beginning to expand my platform to Instagram and preparing to expand to YouTube, it’s been a quiet year at Purple Adventures which I apologise for. I don’t apologise for being unable to deliver the content I had hoped to, that’s out of my control, but I do apologise for letting my blog produce nothing but radio silence without an explanation. As we all know life is unpredictable, and more so when we least expect it, which is what lead to such silence. During the 12 Days of Blogmas I’ll touch on why things didn’t go to plan with Purple Adventures this year.

 

I hope 12 Days of Blogmas can help to make up for my absence and set us up for a much louder year that’s approaching us quickly.

 

I truly welcome your feedback, not only on each new post but also throughout the whole process in general; let me know what you do and don’t like, tell me how I can improve for not only years to come but with any other events I decide to host in the future, inform me on how I can make this specific event more inclusive even if that means you’d rather contact me privately to do so and pass on any other notes, tips, recommendations, etc. that you have for me.

 

If you have Twitter or Instagram follow @PABlogOfficial to stay up to date with the countdown, receive topic hints, more Blogmas fun and for other general content all year round.

 

Only 6 sleeps until the 12 Days of Blogmas begins!

inVISIBILITY

Invisible means unable to be seen

 

Is it really invisible,

When I’m on the ground,

Stiff and jerking,

With my head banging on the cold tiles?

 

Is it really invisible,

When my phone screen is shattered,

From all the times I’ve lost control of my body,

And dropped it,

Just like everything else,

Again and again and again?

 

(If I can even have a baby after all of these invisible years, will I drop them too?)

 

Is it really invisible,

When my body tremors and jerks,

As I limp everywhere I go?

 

Is it really invisible,

When I have to swallow 24 pills throughout a day,

Having to take some of those in public,

In front of prying and mostly judging eyes?

 

(I see them all, even the ones wondering if what I’m taking is worth stealing, it scares me because it wasn’t invisible the day somebody decided they were worth it)

 

Is it really invisible,

When the only time my friends in another city can see me,

Is when I’ve had to travel down for appointment after appointment,

Treatment after treatment?

 

I know I am not my disability, 

I am me,

But sometimes my disability makes me want to feel invisible,

And I know I am not invisible,

Because people can see me,

Just like they can see my disability,

Separate from me, a visible entity.