An excerpt from The Bay of Plenty Times 28.9.2016
DEATH OF A FRIEND
Amanda Lowry says she wouldn't change who she is a 44-year-old woman paralysed from the chest down. A surfing accident three years ago left her a tetraplegic. On the day we speak inside her Bethlehem kitchen, she relies on a wheelchair to be her legs, a caregiver to be her hands.
"The old me, it's like the death of a friend and I'm really grateful to her for the foundations that she provided to me to build this one - this new life. Because without that, this probably would be quite tough."
Amanda remembers vividly the moments she could've drowned in the waters off Mount Maunganui.
"I just dived off without my hands above my head and I hit the bottom and I heard my neck break. It was almost like I chose at that second. I could've gone or I could've stayed. And I went no, I'm staying." A friend rescued Amanda. She didn't need a doctor to tell her her old existence was gone.
"I knew my body didn't work anymore."
Today, the mum of 3-year-old Ziggy and 7-year-old Lola lives with partner Gemma Holroyd in a rental house.
But more changes - chosen, not forced - are coming. Amanda's new home overlooking the Kaimais and wetlands in Bellevue is set for completion within two months.
Her arms, shrouded in plaster casts to her elbows, have just undergone bilateral tendon transfers at a Christchurch hospital.
"They took tendons out of my forearms and weave them through my hands to give me a four-finger grip and a pincer grip - I will end up pretty much like a pukeko (New Zealand bird) I reckon. " says Amanda
The trained chef hopes the operation will allow her to cook again.
"My partner is saying for her that will be the balance of the universe restored when she comes home and I'm in the kitchen making food."
The clink of dishes echoes as caregiver Jackie washes up. "Would you like a cup of tea?" she asks.
I pick up my steaming mug as Amanda's sits before her, long plastic straw snaking from its top. She says it takes her caregiver up to 90 minutes to get her out of bed and dressed each day.
"What people don't grasp is at night when you lie me in a position I will stay there all night and I cannot move - I can't roll over and put my arm over her [Gemma] at night-time ... so all this stuff you take for granted about the beautiful physical aspects of loving a family and loving people, you have to find new ways to do it."
She's grateful 40 per cent of her body has movement.
She drives, swims three kilometres per week and started playing wheelchair rugby six months after her accident. She proudly brings her girls to watch.
"It helps us make a new normal in a much more healthy way. They see we're out there and doing it. We're not letting it stop us, and they recognise that there's other ways of being."
Amanda's story of her accident is in "Made Beautiful by Scars-real women's stories" Get your copy below...
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