Imagine enjoying a pool day while on vacation when you fall and injure yourself, realizing that this isn’t just any fall. You realize that you’re seriously hurt. When you’re rushed to the hospital, doctors tell you that you’ll never walk again.
That feeling and uncertainty and dread, the feeling of wondering what happens now? Rhiannon Tracey was met with this fate and initially faced doubt about coming to terms with her disability but ended up using this experience as a catalyst to launch her holistic health journey. She set out to prove all her doctor’s wrong and she did just that!
Rhiannon is now a motivational speaker, resilience coach, diversity & inclusion advocate, model and influencer. Her accident truly did change her life – but in the best possible way.
You can learn more about Rhiannon and her amazing story here:
Tell me about your story:
After a swimming pool incident just before my 21st birthday rendered me an Incomplete Quadriplegic, I was told by doctors that I would never walk again. However, due to my sheer determination, I have not only proved doctors wrong in the sense as I can now walk short distances with the use of mobility aids but have also used my experiences to better the options for those within the disability community. wanting to improve their quality of life by establishing an NFP Recovery Centre called The Next Step, as well as raising awareness and promoting education around disability access and inclusion.
When did you realize that your injury was serious?
Upon returning back to Australia from being in the hospital in Bali and only just surviving the incredibly poor medical care, the doctors in Australia informed my family and me, that I would need further surgeries to correct what the medical team in Bali had attempted to fix, and that I would be at an even greater risk of having my spinal cord severed due to the trauma that my cord would be exposed too. This was true when the intensity of the implications of my injury was heightened as while in Bali, there was a communication breakdown due to language barriers, so the severity of the injury was always lost in translation and never entirely clear.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face during your healing journey?
Physically, there were an infinite number of challenges from being able to do my own personal care to feeding myself to being able to do my own personal care also took a heavy emotional toll on me. I very much struggled with the limitations that I was being told to accept and felt very isolated and even at times, not understood. I thank my lucky stars for my incredible mum for always bringing me back to a place of solitude when my emotions got the best of me.
When did you decide to prove the doctors wrong?
Honestly, I don’t think there was truly ever a moment that I didn’t believe things would get better to some capacity. I had hope in the fact that others throughout the world with similar situations had progressed within this injury to a greater extent than what had been predicted by doctors, so I leant into my strong will and tenacious personality and knew that at some point, there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
How long did it take for you to regain some mobility again?
I regained movement in my big left toe 2 months after being injured. This made me and my family incredibly excited as the toe is the furthest thing away from the brain and I figured if I could regain movement there, then there was hope for more to come!
Did you reach out to anyone to aid you in your healing journey?
I very quickly had an extensive array of holistic healers and practitioners that my mum would either sneak into the hospital disguised as family members or take me on “day leave” to go and see just weeks after being moved to the rehabilitation ward.
These ranged from Acupuncturists to Kinesiologists, Naturopaths and Massage Therapists. All of which I still access to this day and credit so much of my recovery too.
What was the main source of your healing?
My mindset! Even on my darkest days, I knew that I still had my brain and that no matter how bad things felt on a certain day, I was still capable of making my own decisions.
I used music as a point of release too. Every day while doing my morning routine I would sing at the top of my lungs and let every bit of emotion out that I was feeling. This has always been something I would do prior to my injury and to this day.
What is your favourite modality for healing, and why?
Animals! They have a certain magic about them that can turn any moment into a happy one. I believe they have the ability to take on our energy and then carry it out into the earth and ground it out for us.
Do you face any challenges now, and if so, how do you handle them?
As independent as I am now, I still have all the side effects and complications of a spinal injury from the bladder to bowel incontinence to lack of mobility, however not being able to be completely mobile, funnily enough, is a lot easier to manage than the bladder and bowel as these are the things that truly dictate your life.
I turned to a plant-based diet many years ago to aid in the digestive issues associated with my bowels and injury and I find that between that and maintaining my hydration, exercise and adequate rest, this definitely contributes to good overall health.
What have you found to be the most beneficial in your healing journey?
Definitely exercise and good nutrition. Your body needs fuel to thrive. The saying has been around for many years and I couldn’t agree with it more; You are what you eat! Good nutrition even plays a key role in your cognitive health as well which literally controls your entire body. Like I mentioned above, when your brains are in check, everything else will follow!
How do you advise people on overcoming challenges themselves?
I began sharing my journey publicly via social media literally from my hospital bed 12 years ago, and then this became a stepping stone into sharing it with live audiences. I quickly realized that while everyone has a different means of perception, my experiences influenced and even motivated others to hold gratitude for the life they were living, and if they were experiencing struggles, they could tap into their own resilience via that gratitude instead of focusing on what they don’t have, they became more aware of what they do.
Why have you chosen a more holistic path in healing?
This is a very interesting question as I never really had a pivotal moment in which I decided that a holistic path was going to be my go-to.
What I can remember though is that from the very early moment of my injury, I had this little voice telling me to research every medication or any form of medical therapy I was being prescribed and while some of these things were helpful, many had contradictions or side effects that would affect my body’s ability to heal naturally. In my mind, my body was injured, and it needed complete nurturing to be able to heal to its best ability. For me, that was coming back to what was available from the earth, not from a pharmacy.
What resources would you recommend? (books, podcasts, websites that you’ve found helpful)
Knowledge is power, however, sometimes too much research can lead you into a downward spiral. My best advice is to turn to the experts – meaning those with the qualifications to pass on advice. We live in a world where degrees aren’t a prerequisite for information that is put out into the universe, which is unfortunate for those who have invested years into their education’s because they genuinely have a passion for a certain modality and it’s not just something they’ve fallen into. I see this often amongst influencers and even those who are creating physical content such as books and podcasts and I find it quite concerning as ultimately this can severely impact one’s health. So, my best advice is before you digest what you are being fed, make sure you check it’s integratory – well in all aspects of life really!
Rhiannon’s story is nothing short of amazing and instils a newfound meaning to the word “inspirational”. She is living proof that you are not limited to a circumstance and the human body is capable of truly amazing things.
Learn more about Rhiannon and her story here:
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