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Australia day 2006 was a memorable day, I managed to crush two vertebrae in my back, and experience my world change in an instance. My physical world and my psychological world took an unexpected battering, that changed my life. The events that unfolded taught me some valuable lessons in safety, and I would like to share them with you.
I had been working for a fly in fly out gold mining operation for the last two years, and was now taking some down time. I was determined to experience the laid back Australian life style to the fullest and had started boogie board riding in the early mornings.
There is nothing like early morning guy banter, and catching the waves down on the beach. Time seems to be erased as you adopt the relaxed pattern of the sea.
This morning was also special because I had managed to get into my wetsuit by myself. On previous occasions I had had to have my colleagues zip the back up, I was clearly loosing weight.
For two hours I floated around, catching the occasional wave and riding its crest into the shore. We would even boast to each other “how that wave took us into the front room of the house across the road”, of course, all in male bravado and jest.
The last wave I caught that morning was like all the others, or so I thought. I caught the wave and rode into shallow water, when a second wave broke down on top of me, driving me off my board and head first into the wet sand. On collision with the sand I felt my brain explode into what can only be described as sixty radio channels all being turned on at the same time, pain shot through every cell in my body.
I walked out of the surf with every inch of my upper body feeling like it had been maniacally beaten with a baseball bat. Pain had been a close associate of mine throughout my sporting life. I had been temporarily paralysed from a horse riding accident, obtained broken ribs from karate, and punches to the throat that stopped me eating for days. I have run a hundred and twenty kilometres pushing a barrow of iron ore, and experienced the pain of no skin between my legs and stinging sweat soak into the open wounds. Today this pain was different.
I struggled with my wetsuit, and peeled it off. The trip home was silent, as I was coming to terms with my condition. My friend suggested I have a warm bath, and “everything will be fine in a few hours”. I knew this was advice was little simplistic as I sat in my front room and two of my teeth fell out.
I shuffled to the bathroom and struggled even to open the draw for the panadol. Every inch of my upper body had a pounding ache that doubled me over, searching for positions to ease the condition. It was one of those times you hope someone would walk through the door and put you out of your misery

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