Making the most of life despite chronic illness

"CHRONIC illness or disability is not the end. Really, it's just a beginning in a new direction."

Nikki Rowe's outlook on life is inspirational considering what she has been through this year.

The 25-year-old mother's life was changed forever on her son's first day of school when they were being driven home in a friend's car.

HIGH TIMES: Kirin Clarke-Tinson with Sunshine Coast Skydivers’ tandem master Jason Ford and (top left) Kirin and Nikki Rowe celebrate after the jump.
HIGH TIMES: Kirin Clarke-Tinson with Sunshine Coast Skydivers’ tandem master Jason Ford and (top left) Kirin and Nikki Rowe celebrate after the jump. Contributed

As she listened to her son sing the new song he had learnt that day, she looked to her left and saw a car coming straight for them.

"Those few minutes seemed like endless hours," Ms Rowe said. "I had never felt my heart break as intensely as I waited patiently for the ambulance to arrive.

"That day changed everything for us - a little boy lost his active, happy and courageous mum and received a not so active, depressed and weak one.

"I couldn't even make him lunch for school for almost a month after - I could barely walk.

"Then I could, then I couldn't again and found myself at an orthopaedic surgeon's room, thinking I needed surgery on my ankle. I wish that's all I needed."

Ms Rowe was diagnosed with CRPS, a chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs - usually after injury or trauma.

It has affected most of the left side of her body, however, as well as her right leg, her immune system, metabolism, sensory system, brain and muscle function.

But beyond the pain and suffering, Ms Rowe approaches each day with positivity and determination.

She has thrown her energy behind raising awareness of CRPS through Sunshine Coast Skydive's Skydive for a Cause.

Last week, her long-time friend Kirin Clarke-Tinson made a tandem jump from 2100m in her honour, as Ms Rowe was not medically able to do the jump herself.

It was meant to happen on November 2, Colour the World Orange Day - the international campaign created to raise awareness about CRPS - but had to be delayed due to Ms Rowe's health.

SC Skydivers marketing manager Alana Hall said anyone could register for Skydive for a Cause.

By reaching set milestones, participants earn themselves a skydive from 2100m or 3000m.

"This was our way of giving back to the community while individuals can raise funds and awareness for their charity," Ms Hall said.

Topics:  chronic illness disability

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