At this stage Trudy Vains can't even hear bad news.

It gets that way after six car accidents, months of immobility and tens-of-thousands of dollars of spine-fusion surgeries.

"Your back's broken" - she's had that. "You may never walk again" - she's heard that too.

She's been told that her passion for teaching yoga was as good as done. She's also had a cancer scare, been wheelchair bound and the 45-year-old Brisbane mum has proved them all wrong.

"It's been a big life," she says recounting how she was hit by a car when she was 13, and how she somehow survived a 100km head-on crash with a tree after the driver of a car she was in fell asleep at the wheel.

Trudy Vains with Craig Gains in 2016. Picture: Chris Higgins
Trudy Vains with Craig Gains in 2016. Picture: Chris Higgins

She's still terrified in traffic - because she's been side-swiped and rear-ended twice each.

But what stands out most is the single "jolt" in 2016, when the rickshaw she was riding in mounted a kerb and the weight of those six accidents came crashing down on her.

"All the car crashes were a lead-up," she said.

They "jolted my spine, moved things around" to the point that one singular jolt detached her L5 vertebra, impinged a spinal nerve and left her unable to walk.

"It's hard to relive," she said.

"It took all my courage, confidence and wisdom to get through that."

Trudy Vains leading a yoga class. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Trudy Vains leading a yoga class. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Then in August 2019 doctors found three 9mm masses on Trudy's pelvis.

They said: "Trudy you need to get tested for cancer … and you need to have a spine fusion (surgery)."

Waiting for the surgery Trudy was bedridden.

Doctors told her to make her house wheelchair-accessible because she may never walk again. Yoga teaching wasn't even a possibility.

"I said to them, I will teach, I will walk, I will prove you wrong."

And now - after 13 months of pain, after four surgeries worth almost $50,000, after pushing herself to her limits, struggling with a wheelie walker and celebrating each step - she has.

Trudy now uses yoga to live pain free. Picture: Craig Vains
Trudy now uses yoga to live pain free. Picture: Craig Vains

Trudy's teaching, walking "and smiling" again - a remarkable recovery she attributes to a combination of "the power of the mind, resilience and sheer grit".

She can't bend her back - not forwards, or backwards and she certainly can't twist - but if you ask Trudy how she is now, she says "privileged".

"I am just so thankful for being here, being able to talk and do what I love every day," she said.

Trudy's book, Fused, is available from her website www.backpainyoga.com.au.

Originally published as 'I survived six crashes, a cancer scare and learnt to walk again'



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