Massie rides the storm

Ben Cameron | Bendigo Weekly | 16-Feb-2012

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HARD KNOCKS: Massie will lose part of his leg, but remains upbeat.
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Massie Knight needs only one more operation to make the pain stop.

It hasn’t let up for the past four years. Eversince the Bendigo father of two came off a motorbike in Mandurang on April 6, 2008, and landed awkwardly in a culvert.

A permanent reminder of that accident will be an amputated left leg.

True to his always-positive outlook however, Massie’s looking forward to the big op that will remove everything below the knee.

“It’s going to remove 90 per cent of my pain,” he says.

Massie, 38, still has “flashes of memories” from that day.

“I remember being on the bike... going around a bend,” he says.

“Everything was in slow motion, but as soon as there was impact, it all sped up.

“Then she’s gone ‘kaboom’. I’ve hit trees...”

Riding in a pack of 40 at 100kmh, he was the only one to hit some loose gravel, and a slight over correction meant major injuries: a bruised spleen, bruised heart, busted collarbone and shoulder, broken neck and ribs, brain and spinal damage. It also came with the likelihood he’d never walk again.

“But I didn’t take an ounce of skin off,” he laughs.

“I landed on my back. When they asked if I could feel my feet I apparently said no.

“They put me in the ambulance... I said to (wife) Lisa ‘I’m sorry, I messed up’... I blamed myself.”

In layman’s terms, Massie had wrecked his spine, almost to the point of no return

“There was nothing holding the bottom of my spine together, at all,” he says.

“My spinalcord was doing like an S Bend, it should have broken, all the nerves got ripped out, two major roots coming out of my spine.

“They brought the kids in, they thought I was going to die, my heart was going off its head... it wasn’t pumping oxygen through the body.

“For the first three weeks I was on my own, coming in and out of consciousness, in the dark, no windows, just one door and nobody was allowed to see me.”

For three months, it was touch and go whether Massie would survive.

“They were telling me I was never going to walk again,” he says, which is when the first kick of Massie’s competitive nature returned.

“The first thing I started to think of was ‘I’ll race wheelchairs’,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye.

“That’s the honest truth... obviously you have some (bad) thoughts, but I’ve never suffered from depression or anything like that.

“You’re in the situation, you just accept what it is.”

He also found inspiration from other patients.

“A nurse told me there was a jockey who’d had a similar accident, and within six months he was back on the horse,” he says.

“He’d broken his back, had the fusions, he’d smashed himself up. That gave me a little bit of hope.”

Twenty years of professional riding helped him overcome every obstacle over the coming years.

“You train yourself to a certain amount of toughness,” he says.

“That’s been really good training for me... I’m on the rollercoaster every day.

“But you have to push yourself, it’s what you have to do. To get the maximum out, you’ve got to put the maximum in.”

The accident has taught a former speed merchant to slow down a bit.

“I’ve regained a lot of patience, I was never patient, I was always hyped up,” he says.

“I’ve taken a step back, I’m not as selfish, I try to think more of others 

“I was very motivated and focused... I was always in a hurry.

“But now you have to take a step back, it’s gradual, you can’t get it done tomorrow.”

While TAC provided him with a recumbent bicycle, he’s not overly keen to hit the roads again just yet.

“I ride it sparingly, but I’m swimming now, I’m swimming flat out,” he says.

“I just love the feeling of fitness... I’m a fitness fanatic.

“Never take yourself or your body for granted.”

On January 28 in Mornington, Massie performed strongly in the Bloody Big Swim, an 11.2 kilometre open water event. He remains a constant source of inspiration to his wife, Lisa, and their two children, and hopes the leg will be off soon.

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