I grew up in Gunnedah which is a small country town perhaps best known for producing the Supermodel Miranda Kerr. When I was 16yrs old in 1998, I had a great year. I had always had a budding elite sporting career but the hard work of the previous years was finally paying off and I was narrowing my focus from “every sport” to one sport. In that year I had finished in the top 10 in the state for triathlon, I had raced against a guy called Ian Thorpe at State Championships swimming, I was 3rd in the state for the 800m in athletics, I had run a 51min City 2 Surf. I had NO coach but I read magazines and books profusely and trialled every technique I could get my hands on in the pre-internet days. It was working. It was all coming together….
Then one day, towards the end of the year I was playing some touch footy with some friends after school and after I jumped up to catch a pass and landed I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. It felt like a frog was trying to jump out of my throat. It was the kind of surging heartbeat you would feel after a 400m sprint – but I hadn’t done one. I sat down and the pulse continued in the same fashion. I waited…and waited….but it just wouldn’t respond. I didn’t know what was wrong.
I collected my thoughts, spoke to my my Mum and we raced down to our GP. After an anxious wait I was brought into the clinic by the GP and he performed a form of carotid massage on my neck and suddenly – just as quickly as it started – my heart stopped. It literally paused (just for a second). And then with a real PUNCH! It kicked back in.
Over the next 2 and a half years I was in a black hole of referrals, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, referrals. My Mum tried everything – we did conventional medicine, we did chiropractic, kinesiology, acupuncture, massage, medical herbalist, we supplemented, we dieted. Nothing worked. On an irregular basis I was hospitalised with the same racing pulse – often they needed to drug me before the surging pulse would stop. I was told to stop exercising. The thing I enjoyed most in the World was taken from me.
On top of this, my parents had separated only a couple of years beforehand, I was undertaking arguably the most formative years of my education. I moved from Gunnedah to Sydney for University and I became completely financially independent.
Finally, I was diagnosed with Supra-Ventricular Tacchycardia, medicated for about 6months prior to a 6hr surgery when I was just 19.
Fortunately, the surgery was successful and I was able to SLOWLY return to exercise. But let me tell you that after 2 and a half years and 15 or so kilos and little to no exercise, I was in a completely different headspace. My whole future had changed. I had to find out what it was like to start ALL OVER AGAIN.
Compounding this, during my 2 and a half year sabbatical from exercise, on one of the few days that I got so frustrated with my disease, I went and played basketball. During that basketball game, I sprained my ankle – not just any sprain – I managed to rupture an artery in my ankle. I was rushed in an ambulance 2 hours to the nearest orthopaedic surgeon and after further issues with misdiagnosis I spent another 4 weeks of internal bleeding before I finally found a surgeon who would operate. After this “successful” operation, I was recovering the following morning and the nurse came in to remove the pressure bandage. As soon as the pressure bandage was released “WHOOSH”, blood began spurting out of my wound. I was now bleeding EXTERNALLY, not INTERNALLY.
I was rushed to surgery, had my artery tied off and eventually recovered.
I returned to sport after these 2 and a half years with NO guarantee that my heart condition would not return (1 in 20 do return) and an ankle that has about half of the range of a normal, healthy ankle.
So when I say I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom physically and mentally, you can see I have a pretty fair idea. I remember thinking as I was bleeding onto the hospital floor, with a heart condition, no ability to exercise, feeling like I’m about to faint, next to a Mother who couldn’t donate blood to me due to our incompatible blood types: “how could this get any worse?”
But I also learnt over the proceeding years that it doesn’t matter how LOW you go, as long as you start seeing those small steps back UP. I learnt that it is never not worth it. I learnt that anyone can make the most of their genetic gifts or their situation or their environment and anyone can (given enough time) achieve great things with hard work.
I’ve since been named NSWAL Athlete of the Year, won multiple Sprinting Gifts, played for NSW in Touch Football, received a University Blue (touch football) and turned my skills to helping others achieve in these arenas. But it was in the most difficult days that I learnt the most about myself.
I didn’t give up and neither should you. That is why our business is set up to support you in a way that treats you like an unique individual and comes from a place that cares and supports you. We prescribe exercise specifically for you. Bespoke exercise prescription because we want you to be healthy. Forever.