Vance wants to be home by Xmas

In­jured jockey de­ter­mined to walk again af­ter Ro­torua jumps crash

Waipa Post - - The Country -

Maija Vance hopes to leave the O¯ tara Spinal Unit be­fore Christ­mas.

The Cam­bridge jockey has been there since late Septem­ber af­ter 10 days in Mid­dle­more Hospi­tal, where she was treated for the ex­ten­sive in­juries she suf­fered af­ter her mount Zed­sa­tional crashed at the sec­ond to last fence at Ro­torua on Septem­ber 16.

Two ver­te­brae were frac­tured with an­other three out of line and she un­der­went a four-hour op­er­a­tion to have rods and a metal plate in­serted.

She also suf­fered two punc­tured lungs, bro­ken ribs, fa­cial in­juries in­clud­ing six bro­ken teeth, and al­most bit her tongue off dur­ing the smash.

Each day her par­ents, for­mer jock­eys and train­ers Bob and Jenny, have been at her bed­side and she is look­ing for­ward to be­ing re­leased from the Unit to live with them in Pa­pakura.

“I’m plan­ning to go home in a month, de­pend­ing on the ren­o­va­tions be­ing done for me,” Vance said. “I re­ally want to get home.”

Vance has made steady progress over the last month or so and said she is now more in­de­pen­dent in her elec­tric wheel­chair.

“When I first got put in it I couldn’t sit up­right with­out pass­ing out,” she said. “Now I can trans­fer from the bed to the wheel­chair by my­self.

“As the bro­ken ribs have started to heel I’ve got more move­ment in my up­per body, but my back still re­stricts what I can do with the rods through seven ver­te­brae.

“I’ve got no feel­ing in my waist and have been hav­ing daily in­jec­tions to help pre­vent blood clots.

“There are patches of hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity in my left leg but it doesn’t move. My right leg, I can con­trol a bit but there’s a numb and dull sen­sa­tion.”

Vance has been un­der­go­ing phys­io­ther­apy at the O¯ tara Spinal Unit and has re­quested to have more.

“Lately I’ve been hav­ing two or three ses­sions of physio per day,” she said. “I’ve de­cided I’m not go­ing to spend the rest of my life in a wheel­chair and I’m de­ter­mined to do what I can to walk again.”

A daily vis­i­tor is Toro, her mini long-haired dachs­hund who came back from Aus­tralia with her.

“Dad brings him in ev­ery morn­ing when he comes af­ter track­work and Mum takes him home at night af­ter she has been in the af­ter­noon,” Vance said. “He sits on my lap in the elec­tric wheel­chair and if he’s not there he’s ly­ing be­side me on the bed.

“When he first came in I told the hospi­tal staff he was a soft toy. I love see­ing him each day. He makes me feel bet­ter.”

Vance’s pos­i­tive at­ti­tude has been helped by the con­stant flood of well wishes from friends, col­leagues, rac­ing folk and peo­ple far and wide con­cerned about the pop­u­lar 27 year old, who has en­joyed suc­cess in Queens­land and South Aus­tralia as well as 94 wins in New Zealand.

Grace Wil­loughby, a Queens­land jockey and Vance’s for­mer flat­mate, is one friend who has done a bit ex­tra to help. Ear­lier this month she set up a web­site (www.gofundme.com/help­maija-walk-again) which has raised more than $24,000, while So­cial Rac­ing also started a pro­mo­tion.

“I’m so grate­ful to ev­ery­one,” she said. “I’m over­whelmed by all the sup­port for me.”

Photo / Sup­plied

In­jured jockey Maija Vance with her dog Toro.

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