Champion local water skier Erin Weston-Green’s determination to return to show skiing following a horrific car accident in the United States in June last year has finally paid off.
Erin moved to Florida in 2014 to continue her dream of being a full time swivel ski instructor and professional performer and was a lead act in the renowned Legoland Theme Park’s show ski production.
But last June a short drive to McDonalds for a snack with friends became a nightmare and turned her life upside down.
The accident left Erin with a broken neck, two broken vertebrates, nerve damage to her left arm and a 15cm laceration on her forehead and it was unsure if she will ever make a full recovery.
Erin was told after the accident that her injury was similar to those seen in paraplegics and it was a miracle she was still walking.
“My original surgeon told me I would not be able to do anything physically demanding for 12 months, no pushing, pulling, lifting weights over 25lb or 11kg and definitely no skiing,” Erin said.
“I felt helpless to my situation because they made it sound like the risk of paralysis would halt any kind of progress for 12 months.”
Erin said she faced the harsh reality if she couldn’t get back to work as soon as possible her career would be over.
“It was too long and under the circumstances of my employment my only choice would have been to retire, and I didn’t want that. The doctor didn’t understand how important it was to me. Every appointment was; “12 months no exceptions and there’s nothing you can do about it”, and that was really heartbreaking,” she said
But typical of her competitive nature and determination Erin then reached out to another specialist in the area.
“The second opinion changed everything. The new doctor is a sports surgeon with a great understanding of athletic ability and physical strength that sets us apart from the average person.
“I didn’t find out how close of a call it really was until my second opinion.
“I took in my original CT scan hoping to get back to work at the four month mark and he basically told me the only reason I’m not in a wheelchair was because I am me and not someone else.
“It was certainly a shock, I didn’t realise it was that bad I had never seen the scans myself. They showed me where the spinal chord was compressed and told me that was the injury they would usually see in paraplegics.
“He told me if I work out hard at the gym, take calcium, eat well, and rest often, then I had a chance to go back to skiing at six months.
“They made it clear there would still be some risk and there may be limitations but he gave me eight weeks to do it. So I went to the gym twice a day, six days a week. Ate a ton of food, slept a lot and did everything I could to heal the fusion.”
Erin’s specialist appointment on December 11 confirmed all her hard work had paid off and her fusion had healed completely and was allowed to return to work with no restrictions.
“The PA who looked at the scan and said I’d done a really great job growing the fusion site.
“All the physical work I had put in had stimulated the healing and strengthened everything else around it as well.”
Erin immediately returned to show skiing and is still hitting the gym hard every day to keep on improving herself.
“I feel great I have some minor nerve damage still remaining in my left thumb and I can tell my left shoulder isn’t as strong, but in time that will come back.”
Erin said she has received amazing support from family and friends back in Australia over the past six months. She said her mother, Leonie and father, Kelvin were always there and helping her whenever she needed it.
“I’d also like to thank all my friends for their support and checking in on me from time to time to let me know they’re thinking of me.”
The next goal for Erin is to represent her country in the World Ski Show Championships to be held in Canada later in 2018.