Back in November of last year UK surfer Karma Worthington was involved in a hit and run in her local village of Braunton in North Devon. She was thrown about 30ft down the road and suffered from a broken arm and pelvis which left her in the hospital for three weeks, having to undergo surgery to insert metal plates in both breaks and was in a wheelchair for about three months after. We caught up with Karma to find out about her road to recovery, and the highs and lows that came with it.
Karma, so how was the recovery process?
The recovery is still ongoing. It has been a tough year and a lot of ups and downs, but on the whole, I have tried to stay positive and focused.
Swimming and hydrotherapy have been a huge part of my recovery, and I was in the pool from the second I came out of the hospital. Being pushed around in a wheelchair and having hardly any mobility in one arm is tough, so when I was in able to get in the pool and feel weightless I got my smile back. It was also really important for me to try and build some muscle again – it’s crazy how quickly you lose it when being immobile!
Did you think you’d be surfing again?
I was determined that I would surf again, but I didn’t think it was going to be for at least a year. Now I’ve slowly got back in the sea and I even entered a surf contest in Croyde this September, the Jesus Surf Classic.
How long did you have out the water?
I had my first surf (knee deep water on a foamy) at Easter. I had only been out of the wheelchair for about a month and was still using crutches to walk, but I set myself the goal of trying to stand at Easter so I put all of my focus into swimming and strengthening as much as I could in the lead up to this.
What did it feel like to get back in the surf after all this time?
My cheeks were hurting from smiling so much! It was freezing cold, howling onshore and I have never been so excited to get in the water in those conditions.
Did you have to take small steps, starting from the beginning again?
After my first time back in the sea, I took it very slowly. I still had minimal mobility in my arm; I couldn’t walk for longer than 15 minutes without needing to rest. I was in the pool at least four times a week and had physiotherapy twice a week. I wasn’t going into the sea regularly until May. Then I was on a foamy for ages in, but I figured that was better than nothing!
How is your surfing now?
I’m now back on my (fat) shortboard regularly. I can’t surf for very long as my arm still has a lot of strength to get back and I am still in a fair bit of pain, but it feels AMAZING to be on a wave and still be able to do turns and kind of duck dive again. I have developed an interesting paddle technique!
How did you find your time out the water, did you get frustrated or were you focussed on recovery?
It was tough, but I did always say, at least it was winter! I have always tried to travel in the winter months because, come on, who loves those freezing wet wetsuits and being head to toe in neoprene? I was focussed on the end goal and had so much rehab to concentrate on. I tried to turn the frustration into motivation.
What advice would you give to anyone struggling with an injury or illness, who want to get back in the surf?
Be patient. You may have a long road to recovery ahead but don’t go too hard, too soon. It is very easy to go backwards. So stay focussed on the things that you can do at the moment that will help you get to your end goal.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I have a surf trip to Morocco planned for November. I used to work at a surf camp out there (Moroccan Surf Adventures), so I’m excited to see some old faces and get a full week of waves and sunshine. My boyfriend and I are also going to Sri Lanka in the winter. This is a trip which we had booked for last January but for obvious reasons had to postpone.
I’m just focusing on getting stronger and spending as much time in the water as possible!
Good luck with your recovery Karma! Follow Karma on instagram @karmalouise