It was during a long jump attempt at my school's athletics try-outs when I was nine that I first hurt myself.As usual, I ran and jumped but as I hit the sand I felt pain in what I thought was my ankle.
After my jump I couldn't walk and I sat down to watch everyone else but after an hour the pain still hadn't gone away.
I got someone to help me as I hobbled back to the classroom but it was just too sore and I ended up in tears. For two weeks I couldn't walk properly so I went to my GP.
He was puzzled about what I had actually done so he sent me for an ultrasound that showed I had Achilles tendonitis. I was put on anti-inflammatory tablets and referred to a physiotherapist.
He treated me at least once a week for a month but there was no improvement and he wasn't sure what more he could do. I went back to my doctor and he referred me to a sports doctor. He also had difficulties diagnosing the problem with my foot but suggested cortisone might help.
I then had an MRI scan which showed a thickening of the Achilles tendon. My mum was concerned about me having cortisone injections so we stopped them.
My GP then referred me to a paediatric orthopaedic specialist who examined my leg. As soon as he touched it he knew it was a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).
Straight away he wrote a referral for me to see a pain specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital pain clinic.
He took some photos of my leg, as it had completely wasted away and it was blue, hairy and cold. Then he sent me to have a scan which showed that the bone in my lower leg was demineralising and that it had a decreased blood supply. This had made it hairy, blue/cold and a lot smaller than the other leg.
I then had a lumbar sympathetic nerve block which instantly helped – all of a sudden my leg was warm and pink. It was magic really. If I hadn't had it done I would have lost my leg.
I had never been in hospital so it was a really different experience for me. I was put in a room with two other people but I was shy and didn't really talk much.
The first night after my nerve block it was hard to sleep and I was missing my mum very much. It was strange having nurses coming in through the night to check my blood pressure.
It was a different story during the day. I could walk around and find things to do. The hospital has a Starlight room which was really good and I remember making a cup with my name on it. Just the change of atmosphere was something I enjoyed.
My mum came and visited me in hospital every day from Cranbourne. I really enjoyed doing my rehabilitation with the physiotherapist even though getting my leg back to its normal size was hard work. I had to keep going back to the hospital for rehab after I was discharged.
Mum deserves the real thanks for what she did during this hurdle in my life. She took me to every doctor's appointment and was determined to get to the bottom of the problem. She also gave me the best support.
The pain in my leg had a big impact on my life. I was unable to participate in my regular after-school activities, such as squad swimming and dancing which was very upsetting for me. It felt like I couldn't do what I wanted or have any fun. I wanted to be normal and to be able to spend time with my family.
I was on crutches for 12 months and found it very hard to interact with my friends. Being nine and having this happen was really hard. It felt like my friends wouldn't talk to me or would just run off because I couldn't catch up.
I had to miss school and miss out on what kids do best - play. It was very hard for me to adapt to the changes of not being able to do everything that I used to. I also had to change my lifestyle to fit what I could manage on crutches and I was relying on other people for more help most of the time.
I was always worried it wouldn't get better. It was like I had given up on myself, especially when so many doctors didn't know what was wrong.
But all that changed, thanks to the pain management team who knew what to do.