‘I’ve re­built my life after in­jury’

Woman & Home - - In Our Experience -

I’ve learned that if you sit still you learn noth­ing

Kelda Wood, 45, lives in Shrews­bury, Shrop­shire. She is founder of the char­ity Climb­ing out, which helps young peo­ple fac­ing life-chang­ing in­jury and ill­ness.

When peo­ple ask me what’s the key to con­fi­dence in life, I say “ac­cep­tance”. you can’t find con­fi­dence un­til you truly ac­cept your­self for who you are. In my case – and for any­one who suf­fers a life-chang­ing in­jury – that means the per­son you are phys­i­cally, right now.

I wanted to be an eques­trian from the age of three. I don’t know where this came from – nei­ther of my par­ents were sporty, or horsey. How­ever my dream was to be an olympic even­ter. I painted the olympic rings on my bed­room wall, and would stand on stiles in the field pre­tend­ing I was on the medal podium. It was my sole fo­cus. When the horse I was work­ing with was killed in an ac­ci­dent with a lorry, I al­tered my dreams and went into rac­ing, de­ter­mined to be­come a fe­male jockey.

but one day when I was 28, I was hay­ing the horses when a tonne of bale fell on my head. It com­pressed my whole body into the ce­ment floor, shat­ter­ing the bot­tom of my leg. the doc­tors man­aged to save my leg, but there was no blood sup­ply to the bone. I had no move­ment in my an­kle – my dreams of com­pet­ing as a top-level jockey were over. I couldn’t run, jump or walk up and down steps. sport had been such a huge part of my life – I lost all my self-be­lief and my con­fi­dence lev­els tum­bled.

In 2010, de­ter­mined to do some­thing ad­ven­tur­ous again, I joined a group climb­ing Kil­i­man­jaro. It was aw­ful – I went so slowly and kept fall­ing over. I thought ev­ery­one was laugh­ing at me and felt bad for hold­ing them back. but after­wards peo­ple kept say­ing that watch­ing me had in­spired them to keep go­ing. I thought, “I need to change my at­ti­tude, think about what I can do, rather than what I can’t.”

I re­turned home and re­trained as an out­door in­struc­tor. but it was a phone call from a friend that changed the course of my life – he’d been work­ing with some­one who was about to com­mit sui­cide be­cause he couldn’t ac­cept his in­jury. talk­ing to him showed me I could use my ex­pe­ri­ences to help oth­ers, and so I came up with the idea for Climb­ing out. We run five-day out­door pro­grammes to help chil­dren who have life-al­ter­ing in­juries and ill­nesses.

In 2017, I was se­lected as part of an adap­tive team climb­ing the high­est peak in south amer­ica. Peo­ple said it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble but I adapted my crutches with ice screws and snow bas­kets. I made it to the sum­mit, and while sit­ting there I had a real mo­ment of ab­so­lute con­tent­ment with the per­son I am. I was fi­nally at peace with my in­jury and knew I loved my leg, even with its chal­lenges, as it was a part of me.

Now I’m ready to raise aware­ness of the phys­i­cal trauma oth­ers face. on 12 De­cem­ber I will start an at­lantic row as part of the talisker Chal­lenge – known as the “world’s tough­est row” – cov­er­ing more than 3,000 miles. It will mean three months at sea but I’m row­ing for a dif­fer­ent young per­son each day, which is all the en­cour­age­ment I’ll need to keep me go­ing.

What I’ve learnt from my in­jury is that if you sit still, you learn noth­ing and go nowhere. It was only when I made the ef­fort to phys­i­cally move for­ward that I men­tally did the same – and I truly bounced back. To donate, visit justgiv­ing.com/ fundrais­ing/row­toraise w&h

In de­cem­ber, Kelda will be solo row­ing the at­lantic to sup­port young peo­ple fac­ing trauma

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.