A disability does not mean you cannot live a meaningful and active life. This fact was evident at the 18th annual Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital Sports Day held in Auckland Park on Friday, 26 October. Participants showed that the human spirit is powerful enough to conquer the perceived limitations set by a disability.
“The people who are participating today are proof that life goes on beyond a traumatic event and we can go beyond our perceived limits,” says Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital general manager, Lisete Vieira.
Nobody demonstrated this better than Adri Visser, South African swimming Paralympian, whose joie de vivre and positivity captured the hearts of all who attended. The 30-year-old Adri was born with arms that did not fully develop, and only one leg due to her mother contracting German measles when she was pregnant, but she refuses to allow her disabilities to define her life.
Instead, her enthusiastic conversation revolved around her swimming career and masters degree studies. The young Paralympian is clearly extremely proud of her international swimming achievements, but she stresses that the important part of the experience is not so much about what happens in the pool: “It’s more about discovering who you are as a person outside the swimming pool.”
Freddy Mongoai, an insurance broker who has been a Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital patient for more than two months now, was involved in a motorcycle accident between Rustenburg and Magaliesburg in July 2018. His friend and motor cycling partner was killed when a vehicle swerved into a group of bikers and Freddy was so seriously injured that he had to be airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital.
He sustained a comminuted left humerus fracture, an open left elbow fracture, and right carpal bone fractures, degloving wounds and a crush injury. The worst was extensive multiple open fractures of his right leg – which resulted in his right leg being amputated.
His rehabilitation process has been on-going ever since. “I’ve always thought rehabilitation was only for burn victims and alcoholics, but this is amazing. I couldn’t bend my arm a few months ago, and now I can. I feel privileged to be in rehabilitation. Here you can look at some of your fellow patients and realise: no matter what happens to you, it’s not the worst that can happen to someone.”
The consequences of his accident are not the only challenge that he had to face and come to terms with this year. Freddy lost his wife less than a year ago, leaving him behind as the single father of four children. The 46-year-old self-employed Freddy stresses that you sometimes hear about terrible things happening to people, but that you experience it much more intensely when those things happen to you.
“You know, when things happen next door, they don’t have the same impact on you as when they happen at your own house,” says Freddy.
But despite the challenges heaped upon him over the past 12 months, Freddy remains positive. “As human beings, we feed off each other’s support. My friends are here to support me. I feed on their energy and it makes me feel good,” he says.
He expects to be discharged from hospital soon, and his eyes light up when he talks about his future plans. Most of his dreams revolve around his business ambitions, but he also has personal ideals. “I want to live a full, responsible life.”
Thulani Nkosi was shot in his spine when he was sitting in his car with a friend in 2012. They heard gunshots and realised people were shooting with AK47 assault rifles. His car was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was hit seven times.
“I was extremely happy to be alive, but only when I wanted to drive off, did I realise my legs couldn’t move. I called bystanders to get me out of the car and take me to hospital.”
It was discovered that he was shot in the spine, leaving him a quadriplegic wheelchair user. “Even then, I was overwhelmed to be alive. I could still talk, my brain was functioning,” Thulani says.
During his three months in rehabilitation, he was assisted to be more independent. When he returned home, he surprised members of his community with his dedication to charity despite his disability. Someone contacted a radio station with his story, and he was given a specially adapted vehicle. “That was a turning point in my life; that car made me independent,” says Thulani.
The Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital started to invite Thulani to talk to and motivate patients with his inspirational approach. Later he was offered a job at the facility, where he now works at the front desk while motivating patients with his words of wisdom, giving them hope for their new journey in life.
More about the Netcare Rehabilitation Sports Day
Many of those who participate in the Netcare Rehabilitation Sports Day are individuals who have experienced what can only be described as life-changing, traumatic accidents or medical incidents and have had to spend weeks or even months undergoing rehabilitation or other forms of therapy.
During the event, patients from Rehabilitation facilities around the greater Gauteng area take part in sporting events and games such as wheelchair races, basketball, shot put, tug of war and bingo, to mention but a few of the activities of the day.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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