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people By Carole Lander orthapaedic surgeon and specialist in spinal surgery for short-statured people, performed a laminectomy on Meredith’s thoracic spine, removing the back part of vertebrae one to six to relieve the pressure on her spinal canal. This is also known as decompression surgery because it relieves pressure on the spinal cord. Meredith recalls waking up from the anaesthetic and being asked to move her toes. She couldn’t do it. “It makes me feel sick to my stomach to Road to recovery Meredith Young crosses a spacious office building foyer, walking confidently in my direction. remember that,” she said, realising that her days as an athlete were over. Meredith needed strength and willpower to keep on going after her surgery. At first the morphine helped with the pain but eventually she forced herself to go off it and dig deep into her naturally positive make-up and learn to walk again. First, there were months of rehabilitation at a live-in centre. Then she moved in with her parents for U extra support while she acclimatised to life using a wheelchair, crutches and ntil 2012, Meredith walked and she won gold and silver medals at confidently wherever she the 2009 (Belfast) and 2013 (Michigan) went. In the intervening years, Games. She was more restricted in to work part-time, Meredith was though, she has experienced months Michigan, playing shooting guard in overjoyed. At last she could put her of hospitalisation and convalescence basketball and pulling out of sprinting. mind into something other than after undergoing spinal surgery. Meredith has a form of dwarfism When she felt able to return herself and her recovery. She and Meredith enjoyed a holiday in her fiancé Tom Carney moved into a called Achondroplasia, one of the New York where walking through flat near her work and she continued characteristics of which is spinal Central Park made her realise that physiotherapy and hydrotherapy as an stenosis. In 2012, she began to treatment would be necessary out-patient for another 12 months. experience symptoms of this – on her return home. Alarmingly, numbness and muscle weakness in another MRI revealed that the and Tom decided to marry, they her legs caused by pressure on the condition had become myelopathy, discovered the next step in her spinal cord due to narrow space in which can cause paraplegia. recovery. Visiting Coffs Harbour the spine. Still feeling fit and healthy, Meredith continued her various 48 After the August 2013 Games, a walker. “I couldn’t lift my legs. They were kind of dragging,” she said. This forced her to use a four-wheel Synchronistically, when Meredith to look for potential wedding venues, they were invited by friends to view a documentary about sporting activities. The World Dwarf walker to get around. When the Barney Miller, a quadriplegic as Games were highlights of her career symptoms worsened, Mr Peter Turner, a result of a surfing accident. people linkonline.com.au