The Journey Back

ABILITY is what you are capable of, MOTIVATION determines what you do, ATTITUDE determines how well you do it.” - Lou Holtz

It has been 13 months since I ruptured my Achilles tendon during a Meg Englart Cup game in the Darling Downs 2019 pre season. To say it was a shock would be an understatement, at such a young age and with no warning signs. I can laugh about it now looking back on that night, I was in pain and upset but telling Bec I’d be fine for Panthers training the following day. I don’t know how but I managed to walk myself out of the stadium but before I made it back to the car I knew I needed to go to hospital as the pain was so severe. When it happened I don’t think anyone thought that it was very serious as I didn’t react like it was, however the pain and sensation were as if someone had hit the back of my leg with a cricket bat.

It has been without a doubt the toughest year of my life. Just before I went into my surgery my surgeon told me this could be a career ending injury and it will be the hardest rehab I will ever have to do. I was determined to come back stronger than ever, but it has been a very hard and testing process. What helped get me through it was the support from my family and friends, my Panthers family, my dog Charli (very important) and visualising playing netball again scarred ankle and all.

After 5 days in hospital, I had 4 weeks of strict bed rest with a further 2 weeks in a wheelchair until I was able to start using crutches to get around. First things first, I had to teach myself how to walk again. I had to gain movement back in my toes and start exercises to slowly get movement back in my ankle. For 3 months I was also having daily injections to prevent any DVT’s (blood clots) from forming as I was on bed rest and sedentary after such a big surgery. However in true Courtney style to make everything even more complicated of course I was diagnosed with 3 blood clots in my knee and calf at about 12 weeks post op. I was also diagnosed with benign tumours underneath both of my feet, at this stage they only cause slight discomfort while running and seem to be manageable, they are unsure why these developed.

I had to rely on a lot of support during this period as I wasn’t able to drive for 9 months to and from endless appointments, I couldn’t work and I couldn’t finish University for that year. My parents are based overseas so I’m very thankful for my Mum for putting her life on hold to care me for me through my rehabilitation. Rehab became my life spending hours and hours everyday on my body. It was frustrating at first as my body wasn’t doing what I was asking it to do and I had to move through recovery slowly. I constantly pushed myself to my limit trying to reach the goals I’d set myself for the week ahead. One of my hardest tasks was to start weight bearing in a boot and crutches and then to slowly wean myself off the crutches. I would wobble up and down my hallway at home trying to push my leg to take on more and more body weight every day. I would set a pair of scales in the middle of the hallway and would time it so that my boot would hit the scale as I made my way down the hallway. I was able to track how much of my weight I was putting down on my foot by the weight the scales read. Physio and hydrotherapy got me to the point where I could walk with a limp and start working in the gym to strengthen my Achilles and calf. Mind you I had a solid limp for many, many months following graduating out of the boot. An anti-gravity treadmill became my best friend, my first session on it was so slow it barely qualified to be jog and felt like I was on the moon but it was a big moment for me, I was smiling the entire time. The little wins were as good as the big wins.

Now as I prepare for this season I am still doing my own rehab and strength and conditioning program personalised to my body. I have to balance a mixture of different forms of training and set out my training schedule strategically to get the best out of my body. I did have a setback in late May while doing court work in the pre season where I injured my knee. This was extremely disappointing after all the hard work I put in to get my leg stronger than ever. So I am now rehabbing my knee while strengthening my achilles. Good news is I’ve started light training with the Panthers squad and will gradually add minutes each training as we are building up in the closing stages of our pre season training.

I wanted to become a Panther at the beginning of 2019 as I was living part time with my Aunt in Kingaroy. I was very grateful for the opportunity to trial with Panthers to play in Netball Queenslands’ new Ruby Series. I had only previously moved up from Melbourne 12 months prior. When I started the Panthers pre season I didn’t know anyone yet felt very welcomed and gained friendships quickly. I really appreciated all the love and support I have received within

the panthers community

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