I wanted to make a statement today about my appearance on the BBC this morning.
You may have seen I was on Victoria Derbyshire this morning helping raise awareness around mesh implants.
As many of you will know I was an elite swimmer and due to health was forced into retirement.
I was bitten by a tick in late 2008 whilst in China watching the Olympics where my friends were competing. I had gone out there with my family so I could get the experience and atmosphere first hand ready for London ( my dream and goal).
However in 2007 after competing and medalling at the European Youth Olympics which were in Serbia. I went back to training with my goal in my sights. I was just 13 but training with 18-19 year old lads. I was pushed WAY too hard and my coach was actually taken to court for bullying as myself and other swimmers in our squads were treated horrendously. But you wanted to be the best, so accepted it all at the time. We were pushed until we were sick and passing out. But that is another upsetting story.
I got injured in the September of 07 and trained until they finally diagnosed me with an umbilical hernia. I was rushed off and operated on by surgeons recommended through English Institute Sport. I was back in the pool 10 days after surgery. I was back to full training but after 2 months I was in pain, and I’ve had the pain in my stomach ever since.
In 2012 I then began coming unwell with sore throat, food intolerances, blurred vision and so on which of course was the Lyme Disease.
I rarely talk about my mesh repair and injury as it is a very sore subject for me. I was at an elite level in sport and put all my confidence into my coach, surgeons and sport health professionals. Over the years I have seen my coach be called up for his treatment & have witnessed other athletes be permanently damaged due to the injuries they have received during their careers.
Swimming was my life! I mourn it everyday but it has given me the motivation and determination I have to fight and never give up.
I have made it my mission to help, protect and save lives from the pain and suffering that I battle with every day. It takes a lot of courage to speak out and break the silence. I came off air today and just broke down. I often hide my own pain to be positive for myself and everyone to spread inspiration and not negativity.
I often feel the weight of the world on my shoulders because I want to help as many people as I can and would never wish this hell on anyone.
Lyme disease hits a core because it’s what has made me the skeleton and zombie I am today but my hernia mesh problems hit another core because I worked so very hard and gave up my life for a sport that came to a tragic end and there is a lot of sadness and hurt from the treatment received during that time.
I went through many years of wanting to give up, end it all. Such dark times. I have soul-searched and dug deep to regain self-worth and purpose which has saved my life in so many ways. It gave me purpose and helped me realise my passion ( to be a positive role model ) and drive change to protect people. My support systems have helped me face SO many fears and I am thankful to you all. I hope I can do you all proud and keep driving change so generations to come will thank us all for being the true heroes we are. I know I have so much more self-development to do, so many more goals to achieve, so many more hearts to touch, so many more battles and wars to be fought but I endeavour to give life and you all my best EVERY day.
Thank you always for your love and support.
I will talk more about the show today once I have rested my head and taken a hot minute to recharge because I have so much to recap on. I thank Victoria for being an amazing host and am so thankful for the opportunity.