My Story: Jane Delahunty

By admin
16 September 2013

Jane Delahunty lived an active life until the tragic day when surgery left her paralysed. This is her story of courage, strength and determination.

I’ve always enjoyed sports, especially cross-country running, horse riding and figure skating. I was happy and healthy. I had a caring boyfriend, and lots of friends. We socialised, and enjoyed fun runs. I met new friends at the walk and running events. I loved life. I had the world at my feet . . . or so I thought. But then my story took a turn.

I started getting a dull pain in my ribcage. I thought maybe I’d pulled a muscle while doing some activities. I sought medical advice and they referred me to a specialist for further examination, who decided I should have a myelogram, a procedure in which a special dye is used in conjunction with X-rays to create pictures of the bones and spaces between the bones.  A needle would be inserted into the base of my spine and a dye injected, after which an X-ray would be taken.

On that fateful day in March 2001, the myelogram went tragically wrong, leaving me paralysed, and wheelchair-bound for life. I had suffered nerve damage and a spinal bleed. I was 34 at the time.

All the things I took for granted (such as walking), abruptly ended.

I walked into hospital a fit, healthy, active young woman, and came home paralysed in a wheelchair. It felt like a nightmare I wanted to wake up from. I was devastated.

I now had the biggest challenge of my life ahead of me.

My life revolved around doctors and hospitals for the next five years. I had to undergo 10 major operations, one of which was a leg amputation – all related to the paralysis. My life hung in the balance on many occasions, but somehow I managed to fight and live another day.

I never gave up, even though emotionally I was a broken woman. I had to accept my life in a wheelchair.  I had to learn how to be independent again: how to drive a modified vehicle, bathe myself, you name it. It took a long time to recover physically from 10 traumatic operations in five years. I had endless complications after surgery, and blood/ bacterial infections. I was on life support several times.

My health improved as the days and months passed by. I fought back for the sake of my family.

I wanted my active lifestyle back, no matter what.

I spent months in rehab units having physiotherapy and so forth. I had to learn how to cook and be independent. It was an extremely challenging time, but I had to work hard and accept my predicament.

My recovery was slow, but with never-ending help, love and support from my dearest parents, and endless encouragement from family, friends and my caregiver, I began to get my confidence back.

Physiotherapy continued, I set new goals and got physically stronger. I was healthier and positive.

I socialised with my friends again; we laughed and cried together.

In 2007 I passed my driving test in my specially adapted car. I knew then that the tears of joy I shed that day were a sign of my life getting back on track. Passing my driving test was my boarding pass to freedom.

I’ve moved on with my life in a big way. I live life to the full: I exercise daily, cook and so forth. I lead a fully independent life in my wheelchair and really enjoy doing fun “run” events. They inspire me to do more and never give up.

I hope my story will inspire and help others, with whatever traumatic events they may be going through, or may have suffered. Time, patience and a positive attitude is the key. Life does get better. Slowly the smiles return.

I dedicate this story to my dear parents, who’ve fought nonstop to help me regain my independence in what were the darkest days of our lives – they are my heroes.

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