Chris Cairns, injury, hospital, illness, condition, update


This article was first published by Things and has been redistributed with permission.

Chris Cairns has obtained hospital clearance to enjoy a great family Christmas in Canberra.

Four months after the life-threatening medical events that crippled the former Black Caps all-rounder from the waist down, the 51-year-old’s long road to recovery is about to take a big hit. inch during the holiday season.

Speaking from the University of Canberra Special Rehabilitation Center, where he slowly tries to teach his body to walk again, Cairns revealed to Things something of a Christmas miracle by granting a two night stay with the in-laws.

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“My wife’s family here in Canberra are celebrating a European Christmas on the 24th so we’ll have a big family and I’ll stay outside,” Cairns said.

“The hospital approves overnight stays, so the occupational therapists will come out, examine the property, make sure it’s accessible, just to make sure you’re in a safe environment.

Cairns was a mainstay of New Zealand’s Test and One Day teams throughout the ’90s (Getty)

“We need to take some things with us to make sure I can function in a wheelchair and a booster chair for the bathroom. But if we can put all of that in place, I can’t wait to see everyone.

“They have a nice big house, and the whole extended family will come out and we will have a huge Christmas lunch and meet up. So it will be lovely.”

All of this as a result of the aortic dissection and the resulting stroke during one of his four open heart surgeries that made the former world-class cricketer count only his blessings, he’s actually here to celebrate another Christmas.

“I’m very lucky to be here, it’s without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“The aortic dissection that I had had a pretty high death rate. In these early stages, one in four people die from it.

“And then brain damage was also a priority on the agenda after the events that were happening.

“I consider myself to be ahead no matter where I am other than the complications of spinal stroke.”

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For a man who has suffered numerous injury setbacks in his 17-year international career, this is clearly a whole new ball game. However, Cairns sees many similarities and relies heavily on those experiences as he negotiates this delicate path and all of its challenges – both mental and physical.

“It helps, as far as discipline goes, to do the rehabilitation and to know that it’s going to be commonplace and you just have to do it.

“I had three or four knee operations and the ones that lasted six to nine months of rehab. And it’s still pretty scary, because in this situation it’s your livelihood, and if your knee doesn’t fail. don’t improve, it’s the end of your career.

“The difference with this one is that there is even more uncertainty.”

Indeed, Cairns will not know for six to nine months at what level he will be able to regain the nerve stimulation and use of the muscles, on the verge of walking again.

“This nerve regeneration or neural pathway, it’s just happening on its own schedule, and it’s a long time, and it just requires a lot of daily rehab, hard work, and you have to see what the body will give you in return. It’s pretty much out of your control.

“A lot of it is about making sure you’re mentally strong enough to get out of bed every day, go to the gym, and try to step forward inch by inch.”

The inspiration of Cairns?

Chris Cairns. (Pat Scala)

“My children,” he says of Thomas (19) and Bram (18) based in South Africa from his previous marriage, and Isabel (10), Noah (8) and Angus (4) who are in Australia with him and his wife Mel. .

“The motivation for me is that they see that I’m a fighter… that their old man is dedicated to what’s going on, to sharing their life. It’s pretty simple.

“And that only happens through your actions.”

These actions now see Cairns focusing on the important task of activating his gluteal muscles, which would eventually give him the ability to stand. However, he needs the impulses from the nerves to the muscles to return so that he can consider this.

In and around it, his days are full of spooky gym.

From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. he works on a tilting table – which he describes as similar to a leg press, as he tries to strengthen his upper body so that he can transfer from the wheelchair to bed etc.

After lunch, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., it’s working with a pulley system to remove gravity and re-familiarize the body with the movements to help stimulate the returning nerves.

“So it’s five hours a day in the gym, then back to my gym, and eat dinner and sleep and rehearse,” Cairns says. “It’s about six days a week.”

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On Sundays, he has time off, and now with COVID-19 restrictions relaxed, he can be away for a few hours. However, it’s the toilet more than anything else that proves the big deal, with some fine planning required.

“When you’re able-bodied, it’s something you take for granted, and you only go there when you need to,” states a shameless Cairns.

“But when you have an injury and your bowels and bladder are affected, that pretty much determines your life, in terms of your accessibility to the toilet.

“Nobody likes to go in their pants, or for some of us we could be wearing a towel, and those are all honest things you go through.

“It’s something that probably isn’t talked about as much as it should, so that people understand what people with spinal cord injuries go through.

“So the way you knew life before is quite different. It’s really overcoming your ego to realize that you can have accidents, and that can be embarrassing. “

While Cairns takes on challenges as humble as these, he also remains immersed in business, as the founder and CEO of SmartSportz.

– a tech start-up specializing in virtual production and using AR (augmented reality) in live broadcasts, which received seed funding about two years ago.

“It kind of came to a halt in the last 12-18 months, just because of the global downturn in sport,” he said.

“Sports organizations and sports organizations were pretty much focused on today, and there have been a lot of layoffs, and I think their focus on any development has really been put on the back burner.

“We are currently having conversations with several parties to consider launching this first event… this is the next step for us, and I hope that in 2022 we can achieve it.

“What’s great is that even though I’m confined to a wheelchair in the future, it doesn’t change me in this line of business. I’m lucky to be able to stay in this technological side of things. in sports, which I am particularly passionate about. “

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