Tauranga surfer Lowry determined to walk again

By Kiri Gillespie

Amanda Lowry can't feel her toes, but everyday she visualises moving them again.

Ms Lowry was surfing at Mount Maunganui on March 7 when she hit a sandbar and came off her board. Doctors diagnosed her with quadriplegia and the 41-year-old mum of two was told she would be paralysed from the neck down.

Ms Lowry has gained movement in her arms and hands and is now independently getting around in a manual wheelchair a month after the accident.

The keen kiteboarder said she is determined to return home as active as possible for her young family.

"I need to be able to play with my babies," she told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

Ms Lowry, partner Gemma Holroyd and daughter Lola, 3, welcomed baby girl Ziggy into their family seven days before the accident.

It was these three treasures in Ms Lowry's life that pulled her through when the exhaustive physio and reality of what the future may be became overwhelming, she said.

"I'm still coming to terms with it, being broken, but I'm still absolutely positive - going so hard in the physio, doing my own weights in my own time."

Ms Lowry has created a daily challenge of rolling herself and her heavy wheelchair up a slight hill at the Auckland Spinal Unit where she was working through rehabilitation.

"On Friday I couldn't roll up this small hill, then on Saturday I went up five times, then 10 times the next day and then I was wrecked for two days after."

Ms Lowry said her body did not bounce back from physical activity like it used to but she would not stop.

"This is for my babies, Ziggy, Lola and Gemma," she said.

"I have to be strong. Sitting here and not being able to play with them is not an option.

"Yeah, I could have a meltdown and be sad but I'm alive. I have to do everything I can so I can be back at home with my family. I've got stuff to do. I will find a way."

Yoga breathing techniques including visualisation of moving her toes again has helped Ms Lowry keep positive, she said.

"Seriously, I'm not coming home in a power chair, no way. I will not be a drain on my family and community."

Ms Lowry said staff at the spinal unit stopped saying she would never move certain parts of her body again. She kept proving them wrong.

Rehabilitation staff told Ms Lowry she was their favourite patient because of the amazing progress she had made, she said.

It will still be another six to eight weeks before doctors can assess the spinal damage.

Meanwhile, friends have raised $35,000 to help the family until they can start earning again.

Grindz cafe owners Lesley and Steve Graham pledged to donate a percentage of their week's takings, proceeds from a raffle and counter donations to the couple. Mrs Graham said they have known Ms Lowry and Ms Holroyd for more than 10 years.

"They are very giving people who are in a time of need, so it was time for us to give too and help them out," Mrs Graham said.

"Amanda has the most amazing drive and spirit. If anyone can get through this, it's her. I wouldn't be surprised if she walked out of there.

"We've had groups of people come in especially for takeaway coffee because they've heard of what we're doing."

Businesses also offered vouchers and goods, creating the raffle that will be drawn on Friday.

* Donations can be made at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/galztrustfund.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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