Austin Healey

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Health -

AUSTIN Healey, a for­mer Eng­land rugby player who com­men­tates on the sport for TV, de­scribes cop­ing with con­stant pain as a re­sult of in­juries suf­fered while com­pet­ing.

Austin says: “I only re­sort to med­i­ca­tion if I have to, but I have con­stant pain in one or an­other area of my body.”

Austin (36), played for Le­ices­ter and re­tired from first-class rugby four years ago be­cause of his in­juries.

He ex­plains: “My knee got shot to pieces dur­ing a match in 2003, and now con­stantly dis­lo­cates which means I can’t bend my left leg. I also have a sci­atic disc prob­lem caus­ing pain in my neck and back.

“Also my shoul­der was ag­o­nis­ingly painful last year as I need a new ball joint, but I’m de­lay­ing surgery for as long as pos­si­ble.”

He and his wife Louise have four daugh­ters, El­lie-Mae (8), Daisy (6) and two-year-old twins, Betsy and Bibi-Dee.

“Frankly, I’m just glad I’m mo­bile enough to be able to pick up my kids and en­joy run­ning around with them. If I’d con­tin­ued play­ing any longer I don’t think that would have been pos­si­ble.”

Al­though he nor­mally ex­er­cises daily to keep him­self flex­i­ble and re­duce back pain, he’s been un­able to work out re­cently be­cause of a bout of shin­gles.

“It lasted a month and was ter­ri­bly painful and phys­i­cally drain­ing. My right arm went com­pletely numb.”

Shin­gles is caused by the same virus be­hind chick­en­pox, and any­one who has pre­vi­ously had chick­en­pox may de­velop the con­di­tion. It can cause a rash and se­vere pain.

Austin, who com­peted in the BBC’s Strictly Come Danc­ing in 2008, has busi­ness in­ter­ests and com­men­tates for broad­caster ESPN. Dur­ing his ca­reer he won 51 Eng­land caps and two Bri­tish Lions caps.

He says that, like many top play­ers, he strug­gled for a while to ad­just to life off the pitch.

“Most of us find it hard to stop do­ing what is the best job in the world, and hav­ing to try to find a new role in nor­mal life.

“I found it re­ally chal­leng­ing, and was mas­sively de­pressed for the first six months of re­tire­ment. It took nearly two years for me to ad­just.”

He ex­plains that he some­times strug­gles with well­be­ing. “I’ve al­ways been re­ally topsy-turvy mood-wise al­though as I’ve got older I have be­come more bal­anced out. I’m just nat­u­rally the type of per­son who is ei­ther very up or very down.

“I need to be busy with tar­gets and de­mands to fo­cus on oth­er­wise I can feel at a low ebb. But a ‘goal’ can just be spend­ing more qual­ity time with the kids. It’s easy to take fam­ily life for granted and I con­sciously try not to do that.”

“I know how lucky I’ve been to achieve two huge life goals, play­ing for Eng­land and hav­ing a fam­ily. I’ll feel blessed if I achieve a cou­ple more – maybe through char­ity work.”

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