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Iron Will Sherry Azure Haig

Iron Will Award Candidate:

Sherry Azure Haig

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Sherry Azure Haig:

What if you had the chance to start over and begin your life again? You could start from scratch and rebuild your life from the ground up. This tempting allure might be enough for you to want to erase all that you knew in order to completely overhaul your life but what if it meant losing everything you had acquired such as your job, home, relationship, independence and then having to relearn everyday tasks, slowly retrieve your memories, be reintroduced to basic elementary skills and walk all over again? Without a choice, this happened to me, forever changing my life and mindset. After having faced death, I do not take living for granted.

In 2005, upon seeing an article in the paper about the results of MABBA’s Novice competition show and an attached picture of the top 3 Figure winners, I was determined to change my lifestyle so I could become one of those women I admired. Between 2006-2010, I went on to participate in 9 shows with no intention of stopping. I was thrilled when MABBA introduced the Bikini category in 2010 and elated to receive the best placing I had yet to achieve being awarded 2nd place in Bikini Short.

I had decided to wait till the following year before moving on to the Provincial show. I thought I had time. We always think we have all the time in the world. Not quite 6 months later and suddenly I did run out of time. I almost lost the hope of ever competing again and more importantly my life.

As the front seat passenger in a car, my side was t-boned rushing me to the emergency room in critical condition. Unaware of what happened, I laid comatose for nearly a month having sustained life threatening injuries including a punctured lung, lacerated liver and fractures to several ribs, sacrum, pelvis, femur and orbital bone. Until now, I have always omitted that I also suffered a traumatic brain injury for fear of being judged that I might be considered less intelligent and treated as inferior. I have carried this embarrassment around like a dirty shameful secret and it is with extreme difficulty relaying the accounts of my tale by coming forward to share what I have dreaded anyone knowing about thus far. Along with the head trauma my eyesight was affected causing double vision and difficulty with depth perception all which cannot be corrected with glasses or surgery. Unable to no longer drive, I suffer from recurrent headaches, dizziness, fogginess, imbalance and light sensitivity.

During the early stages of my recovery, I was forced to experience what it might be like as a toddler learning everyday tasks for the first time even though I already knew but needed the reminder and also what it might be like as a senior having to use mobility aids such as a wheelchair, walker and cane until I was given the okay to weight bare at which point I reverted back to feeling like a toddler having taken their first steps. Reliving these childish moments as an adult was humiliating. Having been immobile for over a month due to being revived into a comatose state had created a blood clot in my leg from the prolonged inactivity along with severe muscle atrophy which indicated a lengthy recovery.

Rebuilding muscle and recovering strength has been a frustratingly slow process. Challenges are abound during my training sessions as I must wear a SI (sacroiliac) belt to keep my hip in place and prevent the pain caused from the misalignment, fight through brain fog during chest and shoulder workouts which cause pressure in my head, push through sets while experiencing various body pains and most of the exercises I perform must be modified to my differing capabilities with movement. On top of getting through a workout, daily life is a struggle with my balance and vision. Being in public is overwhelming as I experience sensory overload due to the lights, sounds and surrounding activity which all contribute to dizziness and concentration difficulties.

Every night before bed in the hospital I would watch the Rocky movies to soothe my spirits and ease myself asleep. I now feel I have become a real-life underdog in contrast to the inspirational fictional character I have always admired. Eye of the Tiger song lyrics; “Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past You must fight just to keep them alive” have never rang so true. Lying in my hospital bed, I dreamt of stepping on stage once again and to write my story.

Six months post-accident I was able to walk again and though I couldn’t compete it was bittersweet attending the MABBA Novice 2011 show. I watched in awe, inspired by the athletes chosen to win the Gorilla Jack Iron Will Award and was determined to make my own comeback so I could prove to myself that I would step on stage again and inspire someone else.

If I could have others understand that it was my healthy fit lifestyle that aided with survival and recovery and recognize everyone would benefit from a healthy lifestyle as prevention against potential illness or accident, I would feel pride and a sense of purpose.

The hopeless sense of failure and loneliness post-accident had left me deeply depressed but thankfully my spirit was uplifted and revitalized having met the love of my life, Mike Schnurrer who has not only helped with my training but has been an incredible support and partner in my life towards the quest to fulfil my dream of once again hitting the stage and to prove my iron will.

 

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