If ever there were a member story to hit you right in the feels then this is it! This is the incredible true story of one of our amazing PARC members Julie Hooper, written to us herself…
‘On the 5th July 2017, I left for work like any other day on my bike. At about 8:30am, I got crushed side on by a 30 tonne sweeper truck. I saw my ribs and clavicle come up in front of my eyes, heard lots of bone crushing and a loud crack that was my pelvis breaking in 4.
Eight days later I woke up in ICU from an induced coma with a body I didn’t recognise. The injuries I sustained were 17 broken ribs, fractures, displacement and broken pieces in the thoracic, lumbar vertebrae, clavicle and pelvis, a large muscle tear in my left quadricep, 2 collapsed lungs where one was punctured, bruising to the heart, head injuries and bleeds in both retinas and extensive nerve damage.
The paramedics who visited me were amazed that I was still alive – they nearly lost me en route. They were traumatized as they couldn’t believe that my body was the way it was – there wasn’t anything in my body where it should be!
The accident has significantly changed my life. I had once been an elite cyclist winning Welsh and British titles and numerous tours, I had also run for Australia at the World 100km Ultramarathon Championships. For 4 months of my recovery I was in a wheelchair in hospital and only able to use my right arm. I have permanent nerve damage which has left me with a limp and no longer can run, hop or skip. There’s no sensation in my toes, back of leg or my butt cheek, a loss of feeling in both sides of my chest and constant chronic pain all over my body. My balance on right side isn’t that good either.
My life is full of appreciation now and I put more thought in my day on how I do everyday life activities, as it takes so much longer to do things now. It’s very frustrating when I lose balance, fall over and even just the inability to put on a sock makes me look at things that I once took for granted like shopping, cleaning, walking, jumping or just getting out of a chair – getting a good night sleep and being pain free especially. But these are small prices to pay to still be here with my loved ones and friends. I have been overwhelmed by messages of support a love from people all over the world – it’s like having a snapshot of your funeral!
My rehabilitation is a mixture of strength, cardio and hydro. I wish to get back to as much of the athlete I used to be. I ride 100km every day on my bike but a much slower pace. This is what gets me through the day and helps me with my pain management.
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder and my psychologist Sue from Personal Best Psychology works on that with me. The guidance of my Personal Trainer Chris Rich and group cycle instructors Louise and Pru have all helped me to be able to box again, leg press, do pull-ups and gain muscle.
Things I thought were impossible are possible with a few modifications, and I now have confidence and self-belief. You just have to believe it. Believe in yourself and have a strength the survive, ignore the pain and just keep trying.
Every morning I say, “Pick yourself up, dust it off, start all over again and never say never”. I will be going in for my 14th surgery late December and 60th X ray to remove a plate and 6 screws in my seat bone which will hopefully get me back in the New year to sprint classes with the inspirational Louise and Pru’s awesome cycle classes. I am hoping to work again with the very knowledgeable, motivating and professional Chris Rich with PT as well. PARC has an amazing team and amazing facilities.’
Since Julie sent her story to us, her 14th surgery in December was a success. She is currently waiting to see if she can be classified as a para-cyclist due to her nerve damage. Her goal is to enter selection for the Australian para-cycling team, and ride in the Tokyo Olympics, 2020, and Commonwealth Games in 2022.