The story: In June 2013, at the young age of 15, my life changed dramatically when I experienced not one, but two strokes. The first occurred while swimming at Nahoon Beach in East London, followed by another stroke just two weeks later while surfing at the same location. While the initial stroke left me with mild symptoms, such as tingling and numbness on the left side of my body, it went undiagnosed by the doctor. However, the second stroke had a profound impact, leaving the entire left side of my body paralysed. A CT scan later revealed the presence of scar tissue, confirming that I had indeed suffered from two strokes. This event marked the beginning of a challenging yet transformative journey of physical rehabilitation, self-discovery, and empowerment.
The Road to Recovery:
After the strokes, I spent ten days in the hospital and an additional two months in a physical rehabilitation center, where I had to relearn essential skills like talking, walking, and regaining mobility in my left arm and hand. This challenging process led me to take a year and a half off from school to continue my physical rehabilitation from home. During this time, I explored various therapies, and it was Pilates that proved to be the most beneficial in aiding my recovery.
The Power of Pilates:
Before starting Pilates, my body was misaligned, limiting the effectiveness of other physical rehabilitation efforts. Pilates played a crucial role in realigning my skeletal structure through targeted stretches and strengthening exercises for muscles and tendons. Strengthening my core was particularly important to address my instability and lack of balance post-strokes. With time, my body was holistically strengthened through functional movement patterns. As I underwent Pilates training, the neuro-pathways connecting my brain to the muscles on my left side began to rebuild and continue to do so to this day, a decade after the strokes. I witness small yet significant improvements on my left side, mirroring the progress on my right side, thanks to consistent Pilates practice. Precise and controlled movements in Pilates fostered a profound mind-to-body connection, allowing me to be in complete control of my movements, even with physical imbalances.
Embracing New Beginnings:
In 2018, my first year out of school, I embarked on a transformative journey. I traveled to Cape Town to pursue the Basi Pilates MTTC course while simultaneously commencing my Psychology degree. Despite facing physical limitations, I achieved an incredible milestone by becoming a certified Pilates instructor. From being wheelchair-bound to where I stand today, I have come a long way. Since 2018, I have been teaching Pilates, furthering my education with the Basi Pilates CTTC this year, to enhance my skills as a movement professional. My accident ignited a passion to help others both physically and mentally, leading me to hope for furthering my Psychology degree to a Masters level in the coming years. Mindful movement: Pilates' mindful movement has taught me to be patient with my body and to respect its limits while pushing it to get stronger. Pilates has also helped me calm my mind through some very stressful times in my life because it requires full focus while practising. Pilates teaches you to focus on the task at hand while ignoring the other chaos that may be running through your mind. This is a skill that can be applied in many spheres of life! It's a form of exercise that has taught me to love my body for what it can do instead of the focus being on what my body superfically looks like. My body is now taking me up mountains and swimming in the ocean I and I am no longer worried about what it looks like on the outside. Pilates has helped me practise self-love and gratitude - what a gift.
Throughout my journey, I encountered others who doubted my ability to achieve many things, like obtaining my driver's license or resuming adventurous activities. Yet, I have proven that determination and perseverance can overcome any obstacle. Embracing life to the fullest after an accident with physical limitations requires a complete relearning of daily tasks and activities. By modifying activities or seeking assistance, I have been able to accomplish everything I set my mind to.
Each day, I am living proof that a fulfilling life is possible despite daily challenges and frustrations caused by physical disability. The strokes in 2013 presented me with an unexpected path, but my unwavering determination and the transformative power of Pilates have shaped me into a resilient and empowered individual. As I continue my journey, I am grateful for what I have achieved physically and mentally after the accident. Pilates has been a constant companion, helping me realign, rebalance, stretch, and strengthen my body holistically. It has not only aided in my physical rehabilitation but also prevented injuries and enabled me to embrace life's possibilities fully. My goal is to inspire others to find their inner strength, rise above challenges, and live life to the fullest, just as I have done and will continue to do.