Reynecke on stroke recovery: 'I was basically dead 3 times'

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Ethienne Reynecke during his playing days for Saracens (Getty Images)
Ethienne Reynecke during his playing days for Saracens (Getty Images)

Cape Town - SuperSport commentator and former Lions rugby player Ethienne Reynecke says he feels lucky to be alive after almost losing his life last year.

In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Reynecke shed more light on a horror year in which he suffered a stroke and was shot in a robbery.

"It's true what they say - you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. But I’m lucky to be alive because I was basically dead three times in 2018. I had a blood clot on the brain, suffered a stroke and was shot at in a robbery at the Spar," he revealed.

Reynecke added that the road to recovery is slow but he is getting there.

"I'm like that old PC of yours that is slow because the ROM is full. I must get the motherboard working at 100% again. I'm suffering from aphasia (a language disorder that affects one’s ability to communicate), which happens after a stroke or head injury. Not being able to speak properly, read or pronounce names or numbers has been challenging."

He added that it was a bit ironic that during his rugby career he had never spent a night in hospital.

"Post-career, I ended up spending almost a month in ICU. It's been three months now and I have to keep going. I draw inspiration from my daughters Layla and Ave-Mari, who are both 'hoofmeisies' (head girls). My eldest is class leader and has attained academic merit. When I had the stroke it was actually Layla who recognised that something was wrong with me. She said, 'I think daddy must go to hospital.'

"Going from speaking on SuperSport to having my seven-year-old complete my sentences, I have learned that humility comes in many different forms. We all have challenges to overcome and I’m taking it day for day. Through the grace of God, I have started wrestling again, and I am grateful for the small things. You have to keep fighting, as the world doesn’t wait for anybody."

Reynecke has recovered sufficiently that he will participate in this weekend's Cape Cycle Tour.

"It's great to be in Cape Town ahead of the race and I will be riding for a good cause in this year's Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday. As someone who suffered from Bell's Palsy, I’m familiar with not being able to smile normally.

"The work that the Smile Foundation does is amazing and you will cry if you see some of the corrective facial restructuring they perform. The work they do on treatable facial anomalies such as cleft lip, cleft palate, nose and ear conditions and facial paralysis is key in affording the kids a confident start in life, which they may not otherwise have had."

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