Most people assume that facing the fire itself was the hardest part of my story.
But it’s not.
There was a moment in my recovery that takes the cake (and the candles too).
The memory is still so fresh in my mind.
It was early on in my recovery. I’d just come out of my coma.
My skin was still incredibly raw and it was excruciating for me to make the slightest movement.
Even breathing was difficult. I felt like my skin was being peeled off with each small lift and fall of my chest.
But I needed to get moving as soon as possible otherwise there was a high chance my body would stiffen up completely.
So, there we were. Me in bed, Mum on a chair in the corner, when a man walks into my room.
He was a solid guy, with a bald head and a thick gold chain around his neck.
So, naturally, I thought he was a gangsta.
Except that he was wearing hospital scrubs.
“Good morning, Turia” he said. “I’m Frank, I’m your physiotherapist, and I’m here to help you get out of bed and stand”.
Cool. So he wasn’t a gangsta. He was a comedian in disguise as a gangsta, who, um, was in disguise as a physio?
He had to be joking.
“There’s no way I’m doing that” I thought to myself.
I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for a challenge.
But before I could protest, he jerked me upright into a sitting position. And then he swung my legs over the side of the bed.
Now, I was yelling.
And he said to me “OK, now we’re going to stand”.
In one swift motion, he grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me up onto my feet.
The pain was so intense.
I remember shrieking, my face pressed against his neck, tears running all over his gold chain.
And I remember thinking:
“I can’t even stand up by myself. How the hell am I going to be able to walk again? Run again? Compete again? Have a family with Michael?”.
I realised, with a sudden crash of clarity, that I couldn’t think too much about what my future would look like.
Because that big picture was too hard to grapple with. And I knew that if I focused my energy on that end result of “getting my life back”, I would end up totally demoralised. Because the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be was so gigantic.
And so I decided to focus on one step at a time. Literally.
All I focused on was what step I could take each day.
So, champ, whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or whenever you have a goal so gargantuan that it feels impossible – stop thinking about the enormity of it all.
Forget about that big, end result.
Just think: what’s the one small step I could take today?