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The Bupa Great North Run - my long-term dream

by Editor
Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Charity feature: Following a spinal cord injury in a freak accident on a catamaran whilst on holiday in Barbados, Restaurateur Zoe Jay secured her own place in the Bupa Great North Run this September and has already raised over £1000 for Spinal Research

Here Zoe tells the story of her accident and her journey to take part in the 2014 Bupa Great North Run:

When I was 25 I suffered a spinal cord injury in a freak accident on a catamaran whilst on holiday in Barbados. Sailing fast and almost full sail, the 80 foot mast snapped in half and crashed to the deck, hitting me in the process. I had a three column burst L1 vertebra, with 70% of my spinal cord compromised with the smashed bone, two further fractured vertebrae, a collapsed lung, and a cut head. Amazingly, the mast missed the 43 other people on board, including my husband Daniel and our friends Sarah and Jim.

Four days of uncertainty about my outlook passed, as arrangements were made for me to be transferred to Miami. I underwent a 12 hour operation there, in the hands of two amazing surgeons, first to remove the pulp that remained of the smashed vertebra from my spinal cord, then to reconstruct my spine with bone grafting, and lastly to install rods and screws. Ultimately, the operation was a success, but the pain afterwards was pretty overwhelming for several months. I tried to see through it and focus on how amazingly lucky I was, not only to have full movement, but to have come out of it alive.

My recovery has however taken many years and not been particularly straightforward. From early on I was dedicated to daily physiotherapy, motivated by my new perspective on life, and I gradually regained my strength and fitness. Unfortunately though, pain was my limiting factor and at the forefront of each day, and this certainly wasn't helped by the fact I went on to have our lovely sons, Monty and James, within four to five years of the accident. Not surprisingly, the physical side of raising our two sons made me feel a shadow of my former self and it set me back for several years. However I can safely say now that they were worth it!"

Where I’m at now…

It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like I’ve finally come out the other side. Pain is still there when I do the wrong things for too long, but it’s no longer the thing that defines each day. Life is good, I’ve actually made it through. For so long I wasn't sure I ever would. I now run at least five miles three times a week and religiously continue with my core-strength exercises, pilates and gym training, which is the key to me feeling alright!

So, my next challenge: The Bupa Great North Run on 7th September, for Spinal Research. It’s been my long-term dream to get to this point and I'm looking forward to all the training ahead!"

To donate please visit: www.justgiving.com/Zoe-Jay/

Have you secured your own place in the Bupa Great North Run? Email events@spinal-research.org for your support pack today

For further information on Spinal Research visit www.spinal-research.org


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