So I did my stint under the knife. Dr Steve McChesney sliced and diced me and I walked away, literally walked away, minus one ganglion cyst and a sliver of my left fibular bone. My memory of pre-op, including the showcasing of my tattoos to the lovely nurses, just prior to them lying me down on the table, is pretty vivid. You know the hospital gowns you see in movies that part down the back and the patients bum pokes through? I was donning one of those which made catching glance of my significantly marked back largely unavoidable for the medical team. My memory of post-surgery, however, is a bit hazy thanks to the anaesthetic.
Those who know me, know my behaviours tend to be the opposite of promiscuous, however, while I was mowing the lawns three-days post-surgery, I had a sudden recollection of some very flirtatious behaviours towards a poor nurse the same age as me (I know because I asked) that happened to be the first person I saw upon waking up. I seemed to think that walking myself to the toilet, refusing to sit in the wheelchair she was trying to get me into, was a great display of heroism. I then proceeded to deny the offer of pain killers and refuse the advised sleep to instead inform her that I needed to get back to training immediately…. To whomever the poor women was, I apologise profusely. I swear that if we’d met under ANY other circumstances, I wouldn’t have interrogated you about your place of residence or suggestively comment that your appearance is not that of a stereotypical nurse.
A fresh new wound saw me head back home to Tauranga, to be cared for by one of the world’s best mother and begin the rehab process. Instead of waking up and sitting on my stationary bike for 2-3 hours, like I had been each day prior to the surgery, I woke up and… walked. I’m pretty sure I saw a snail moving faster than me on day one but by day 3, I got a bit of a strut on to Nelly’s ‘Hot in here’ as I did 15 kilometres of the only exercise doable. I then headed down to Nelson for a week to work with the Strength and Conditioning Coach, Glenn Stewart, to design and practice a rehab training program specific to my current state. As opposed to all the bilateral (both legs) exercises we tend to do in our rowing weights training, we put a real focus on the muscle engagement and range of a single leg, trying to get the movement and strength back while preventing any imbalances and poor movement patterns. Despite a decade of weights training, his approach encouraged me to explore different paradigms I otherwise would not have considered, so I’m very grateful he let me be his student, be it only for a week.
I then headed back home to farewell my brother before he left for his new job with the male entertainment group, Thunder Down Under, based in Las Vegas. The expectation of an all-expenses paid tour may have been mixed in with the parting words somewhere. This was followed by my last engagement before starting formal training again after 5 months of being a lone wolf. If anyone had wondered whether my black Labrador, Rigger, had previously competed in the annual pooch race, they weren’t left wondering for long. As you can see by the video, he seemed to think the competition was to be the first to sniff and play with as many other beings possible as opposed to racing towards the finish line where I stood calling him. In his second race, he ended up following a fellow competitor over the fence into the in-field before crossing the finish line from the wrong direction.
Just prior to all these events, I was offered a position back in the Summer Squad (New Zealand Team for the domestic rowing season) after failing to regain selection over the past couple of seasons. Regardless of what team I represented this summer the goal was always going to remain the same, become the fastest lightweight rower I can, but I'm very excited about being able to train with New Zealand’s fastest rowers each day and have access to leading support staff and facilities. It’s also very comforting and humbling to know that as we head into a new Olympic cycle, Rowing New Zealand believe me to have the potential to be someone that could have an impact… Bring on the season I say.