It wasn’t my first triathlon. I’d recently returned from representing Australia in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Rotterdam a few months prior. I was fit. I was healthy. It came out of the blue.
The incident forced the shutdown of my digital marketing consulting business. I resigned as President of my local triathlon club. I relocated eight hours drive to live with my parents. I left behind my entire life and community.
I had never heard of an injury like mine. It took me over two years to discover what happened: a virus aggressively inflamed my central nervous system. It affected my memory, language, balance, hearing, listening, speaking. My blood pressure and heart rate dysfunctional due to a condition called Dysautonomia.
All these symptoms combined with vertigo, GI, hormonal, thyroid issues left me in a chronic state of ill health. I was additionally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).
Due to the delay in receiving medical treatment, I spent longer in an acute phase of brain inflammation. My cognitive impairments meant I relied on communicating with simple YES and NO answers. With therapy, I have regained my speaking abilities.
The injury caused Central Auditory Processing Disorder which means I am unable to be in noisy places. Everyday sound – birds, lawnmowers, radio – gives me debilitating migraines. I am housebound with this invisible disability. When I venture out, I wear ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones but they don’t always work.