A mountainbiking crash in the Whakarewarewa forest in February left Laura Stuart a paraplegic. She shares her journey as she learns to embrace her new reality.

NOW that my neck brace is off, I have a cold neck but my rehabilitation progress has accelerated.

I have decided not to take any more pain medicine. My body clock is ticking into place and I no longer have to roll around with a pee bag strapped to my leg looking like an escaped hospital patient.

I bought a scarf in the weekend; it has been a very good investment.

On Sunday I went to Cornwall Park and my partner, Ali, voluntarily pushed me all the way to the obelisk at the top of One Tree Hill (I was under strict instruction not to wheel myself to preserve my injured shoulder muscles, otherwise I wouldn't have been so lazy).


We got caught in the rain several times so while I was cowering under my scarf shivering, Ali was sweating up a storm pushing me up the bumpy road, avoiding cars, potholes and sheep poo.

This week I have made real leaps, not literally unfortunately, I will need a wheelchair pogo-stick for that.

My physio finally let me learn how to transfer in and out of my wheelchair. As a learner I use a "banana board" to bridge the gap. This is a flat yellow banana-shaped board that I use to shimmy across. I haven't quite mastered the fine balance point between getting maximum height and falling headfirst so I do occasionally flop forward. Thankfully Ali is a good catch and can put me upright.

I got a bit carried away on Wednesday and decided to sit on the couch. It was the softest couch I have ever sat on and felt wonderful when sitting.

Unfortunately super-soft couches don't make for easy exits so it was an uphill battle with Ali and my mum helping me inch along the banana board with my arms disappearing into the couch cushions. Why they choose the softest couch for a spinal ward who knows.

I have also almost mastered getting up out of bed.

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13 Apr, 2016 9:30am
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Because I have no abdominal strength, I've got to do a log roll to get on my side to push myself up. I haven't quite worked out the technique for this and just end up clinging on to the mattress edge and fighting my way over.

Had I been in the right place at the right time I could've outperformed Leonardo DiCaprio for the role in The Revenant. Putting clothes on and off is a different story altogether. I am still learning how to balance upright so it is a challenge not to flop back when pulling a
T-shirt over my head.

And when your legs don't want to co-operate, taking your shoes off feels like a wrestling match. The whole process is a frustrating triumph sometimes resulting in cry-laughter; the feeling of exasperation but at the same time realising the absurdity of the situation. I managed the whole process in over an hour the first time and cut that down to 18 minutes the next day.

Now Ali is keeping an official time record, it's become a race against myself.

The best part of the week has been trusted enough to take my trainee anti-tipper wheels off the back of my chair so I can practise wheelies, which is so much fun! I have also been mucking around in the gym learning how to shoot hoops and rock forward to climb steeper inclines.

I do feel like a kid learning how to ride a bicycle all over again.