Paralysed mum is philosophical about walking again, but wants her old laugh back


Source: Herald on Sunday

Teina Boyd suffered a neck injury after an accident caused by diving onto a bed. Photo / Supplied

Teina Boyd suffered a neck injury after an accident caused by diving onto a bed. Photo / Supplied

Teina Boyd is paralysed from the chest down but the young mum of one says her goal isn’t to walk again – it’s to get her laugh back.

Boyd broke her neck in a freak accident last year on Labour Weekend while horsing around with friends.

A miscalculated dive on to a bed fractured a vertebrae and caused paralysis from the chest down.

A year later, the former New Zealand volleyball representative is philosophical about regaining the ability to walk or ever fully use her hands again.

“If I walk again, awesome. But it’s about adapting and enjoying what I’ve got and who I’ve got. Walking is not the be-all and end-all. You can live a pretty awesome lifestyle from a wheelchair.”

Her laugh, on the other hand, was an important part of her personality she wanted back.

“It was one of those laughs you couldn’t help but join along with,” she said.

“I miss the sound of my own laugh. It sounds so weird now. I sound like a high-pitched honking horn. It’s so not me.”

She used to focus on promotions and winning volleyball tournaments.

Now Boyd aims for small gains through rehab and making sure she and Willie, her 5-year-old son, have a stable home in Tauranga.

Despite the scaling down of her life Boyd refused to dwell on the hand fate had dealt her.

“Nothing’s a problem, everything’s a challenge,” she said cheerfully.

“There’s no point in thinking, ‘what if I’d done this differently, what if I’d done that differently’. You are where you’re meant to be. You’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got.

“My support network is so loving and positive. There is no time to dwell in the shadows. They throw so much light at you.”

Her “big old Maori family” and a strong group of friends in Tauranga were a constant support, including her former beach volleyball partner and Willie’s father, with whom she was no longer in a relationship but remained close.

As well as regaining her laugh, Boyd was determined to play catch again with Willie.

She recently had surgery in Christchurch to return function to her triceps, which gave her “pulling” muscles in her arms again.

After eight weeks in plaster she had “super skinny little arms, but we’ll work them up again”.

“It is a challenge, I’m used to benching a fair bit and now I’m benching a bloody walking stick,” she joked.

Though rehab was a long slog, Boyd said it wasn’t the hardest thing to deal with after her accident.

“A friend asked me what the hardest part of it was and I think he was expecting me to say not being able to walk or not being able to go to the toilet on my own, but it’s actually the immense gratitude. You can only say thank you so much. It’s impossible to show the amount of gratitude I owe.”

Boyd said seeing the outpouring of love and support from her friends and family had taught her the value of being present with people.

“[I really value] just sitting in the garden and enjoying the fresh air and the birds singing and the way the light plays on the leaves, talking to people and being 100 per cent present with them,” she said. “I value the power of a quiet mind a lot more.”

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