Sport

Don Currie pulls through to win state title

SIMPLE PLEASURES: Watering the lawn is just one task Don Currie is grateful to be able to do after partially recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
SIMPLE PLEASURES: Watering the lawn is just one task Don Currie is grateful to be able to do after partially recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Rob Williams

DON Currie showed remarkable calm under pressure to claim two state bowls titles at his first attempt.

But it you knew what Currie had been through over the past six years, it might not surprise you.

"When you lie in hospital for five months having to be fed your food, you're used to pressure," Currie explained.

That was the situation in which Currie found himself - unable to move his arms or legs after contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2009.

In August he claimed the singles and pairs (with Rathdowney's Deborah McGarry) Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Queensland titles at Aspley.

But five years ago, he was learning to walk again.

A seemingly innocuous infection led to an autoimmune condition in which the person's nerves are attacked by the body's own immune defence system.

It starts in the extremities of the arms and legs and it is Currie's lower legs that have suffered the most.

"It affects the nerves so the brain's messages don't reach the body," Currie said.

"I was bowling at Beerwah on the 23rd of January (2009) and on the 29th I was in intensive care."

Six months in hospital were followed by seven months spent doing rehabilitation six hours a day, four days a week.

Currie came home from hospital in a wheelchair. He still struggles to walk without shoes on and has lost much of the strength in his legs, and his balance.

"My arms were that weak I couldn't turn a tap on and struggled to hold a hose," he said.

"My calf muscle has only half come back. I've only got 30% of the power in my thighs.

"My balance is bad so I bowl with a stick."

Currie had every reason to feel sorry for himself.

But he knew how hard he worked in the early stages of rehabilitation would have a huge bearing on how well he recovered.

Plus, he's not the self-pitying type.

"It was a huge challenge," he said.

"It was one of those things that if you sit back and feel sorry for yourself, you'll never get better."

With a 16ha block to take care of, that wasn't an option.

Being active helps, as it is when he is idle that Currie notices the pain most.

The pain is constant and Currie is on anti-epilepsy medication to dull the nerves.

"It's a seven all the time," he said of his scale of pain.

"My feet feel like they have been in freezing ice water, then had high-power electricity through them.

"If I had no medication, it would be 15 out of 10. You'd head for the town bridge.

"But your mind gets used to it."

Currie is grateful he is able to enjoy his piece of paradise at the end of a dirt road at Ripley.

He still falls over regularly enough, but is able to view his problems with a sense of perspective and humour.

"Any illness is unlucky," he said.

"But I'm lucky to have come back as well as possible. When one door shuts, another door opens."

Now Currie has his sights on the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast - something never within reach as an able-bodied competitor.



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