A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: kmklu1

Polish Roots & Absolute

as in family roots guys... mind out of the gutter!

Apologies for my lack of blogging! I've been swallowed up in a void of drinking, partying, new friends and too many adventures to count! As I'm now over a month behind on my blog entries I will unfortunately have to skip out the rest of germany (munich, oktoberfest and Berlin) - it was pretty much all alcohol induced mischief anyhow ... And then Czech Republic, vienna and budapest. Wow that's heaps! Sorry guys, I can aways write about it separately to you if you're dieing to hear my stories!

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So. ... This blog will focus on my time here in Poland so far. I've been here for three weeks already, with only one week remaining until I return home to Melbourne. Upon crossing the boarder into Poland I immediately noticed the stark contrast in comparison to other European cities that I've visited. Entering Poland felt like stepping back in time. The houses could use a good lick of paint, the countryside seems bland and there is a definite communist feel remaining throughout Poland with its plain cement slab buildings and lack of originality or interest in the vast majority of the architecture here. Additionally, the Polish seem to be very behind the times fashion wise. According to my German/polish girlfriend they've caught up heaps in the last few years as they used to have absolutely zero fashion, and now they have about 5-10%. So all in all, it was definitely a bit of a shock first getting here. I expected to feel nostalgic, or a wave of longing and homeliness upon my arrival, but in all honesty it was more the opposite - relief that my grandparents emigrated to Australia and I have had the luxury of being brought up in gorgeous Melbourne.

For those of you who don't know, my grandparents on my dad's side were Polish, and I am currently in the process of acquiring my Polish Passport. Hence I took it upon myself to finish my 3 months of European adventures attempting to learn polish for one month, in addition to meeting some distant family members for the first time, that still live here in Poland.

My family live near a town called Rzeszów in South East Poland, and I found a language course 2 hours to the West of Rzeszów in a popular tourist and student City called Krakòw. So i signed up for an intensive month of polish lessons (mon-fri approx 4.5hrs per day + homework). The course organisers also set me up with dirt cheap accommodation renting a room in the apartment of a local resident. But nothing is ever cheap without a price; it turns out that the lady I'm living with is about 70, lives in the Bronx of Poland in a matchbox apartment, and speaks zero english. She also has a habit of sneaking into my room and rearranging things when I leave the house, oh and my bedroom door has a big glass window in it!! So living conditions are pretty av to say the least...

Upon starting my polish language course I found that there were only 5 students enrolled during my allocated month. This is great as it means more attention on each student and hopefully a better level of polish language by the end of the course! The other students enrolled turned out to all be 40yrs +, and all Germans, plus one crazy Austrian dude with super white Santa clause hair who always rocks a bum bag around his waist and a pair of fluffy slippers crossed with ugg boots. Since Germans and Austrians all speak German as their first language, it meant that even in our class breaks instead of going back to speaking english, I'd be practicing my German language skills! Exhausting but great fun!

Now I'd also like to mention that upon taking my first walk through Central Krakòw I was super relieved to see just how beautiful it is! The architecture and general presentation of streets and shop fronts is definitely starting to catch up with the rest of Europe, and it's gorgeous to wander around and explore. After spending three weeks here I can appreciate the beauty of Krakòw a lot more (well at least the pretty central areas), and I'm confident that there will be some big changes and progressions in terms of fashions, general city appearance, and overall Polish vibe/atmosphere in the coming years.

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During my first two weeks here I was super lucky to have lots of friends from my previously visited European cities also backpacking in Krakòw. This meant that each day after completing my polish classes I would head into the city centre and always have friends to explore with. We managed to check out quite a bit including the beautiful Wavel Castle, the Jewish quarter, an enormous and extremely detailed and interesting Polish/Jewish history exhibition centre, and last but not least, Auschwitz. I have certainly been amazed at just how much history there is to learn about all the countries in Europe in contrast to Australia with its measly 200yrs. Learning more about Polish history also prompted me to email dad and refresh my memory on where our family were and if/how they were involved in many of the big events in Polish history such as the Nazi period. I was relieved to learn that whilst my grandpa was captured by the Nazis and became a prisoner of war, he was sent to work on a farm in Germany, and never had to endure the conditions of a camp like Auschwitz as many Poles did.

Whilst I've had my share of thought provoking history lessons here, I've also managed to do some less depressing things! I was very excited as soon as I arrived here to join one of the local gyms and try and get at least a little fitness back after 2 months of heavy drinking, junky eating and very minimal fitness! I'm continuing to have a lot of fun at the gym, with the highlight being my participation in group fitness classes! With my minimal Polish I'm able to understand the instructors when they count, or direct us to move left or right - but that's it!! So I've had a ball trying to pretend to be polish and fit in with the other participants, as well as more than a few red faced moments when I've really mucked up and had to admit that I had absutely no idea what was going on!! Additionally I've managed to squeeze in some shisha bar time, go karting (omg so so fun!!), and even went to watch the local football team "Krakowia" kick some butt against a team I cannot pronounce, or remember the name of.
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Throughout my European travels I have also invented a great game that I thoroughly enjoy playing in each new city. I call this game, "the local game", and it involves trying to pretend to be local whilst buying things, asking for directions etc. for as long as possible until you get found out. In order to play I either try and speak the language like a local, or just avoid talking as much as possible so that they don't know that I have no clue how to speak it! I first started playing this game in Berlin to try and get into clubs as we were sure that the bouncers would be more likely to let locals in than tourists, however it was much easier in Germany as my German is waaay better than I think my polish will ever be! Anyway, it's been a great game with multiple mishaps and funny looks from incorrect responses, or disappointing bakery trips when I attempted to order something that looked delicious thinking I understood what it was in polish, only to take my first bite and realise how wrong I was!!

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In my third week in Krakòw I faced a new challenge. It turns out that making friends in a foreign country whilst not in a hostel is incredibly difficult. Thus, in an attempt to find some company for my last two weeks in Poland I have been trolling tinder like there's no tomorrow! (For those of you that don't know, tinder is a very popular dating app!). I did clearly state on my profile that I'm not looking for hook ups, purely new friends or locals to hang out with and explore town. Whilst not as easy as I thought it would be, I did have a really fun weekend clubbing with a crew of Swedish boys that were just visiting for the weekend. Additionally I joined an Internet site and created a profile to advertise my english teaching services! I've already met with two girls for coffee and to help them practice general english conversation, and I've been able to pick up some great local tips from them too!

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Last but not least, I spent this weekend visiting my polish relatives. They are the cousins of my dad and then their children as well. I've never met them before, and even better - they barely speak a scrap of english, aside from some of the kids of the kids who are around my age (confusing i know!!). Now dad had warned me that the Polish love to drink, so when I arrived I was fully expecting to be welcomed by vodka shot after vodka shot, but was pleasantly surprised when this was not the case. However what I was not prepared for, was the never ending stream of food! It began on Saturday at midday after a bit of sightseeing. We went to the first relatives house where we enjoyed a nice large and hot lunch as well as a few bottles of wine, then we all went to the next relatives house - endless cakes and cookies and of course more wine! Then straight to the next relatives house! cake, biscuits, and a large platter of breads, cheeses, meats and of course - wine wine wine and wine late into the evening! I suppose it makes sense to eat so much food in order to keep up with the drinking and absorb the alcohol?

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A few photos from the famous castle in Łancut near the family's home in Krzemienica

The second day progressed in a similar fashion filled with sweets, food and wine - although the day started a little differently. We had agreed the night before (via some help from google translate) that I would attend Sunday morning mass with the family at 10.30am. So we all got up nice and early (for a Sunday), ate a nice breakfast together and chatted about how cold the weather was. Then I went to brush my teeth ready to leave. The only problem - I came out of the bathroom and everyone had left!! without me!! I stood in the empty living room looking around and wondering if they had nicked out to check the mailbox and would come back? But then the grandma came in and immediately looked shocked to see me. Speaking no english, there were some very large hand gestures and a few words repeated over and over that could only mean "why are you here?!? everyones already left for church!!" So unfortunately not knowing my way, and not being able to communicate with the grandma, I had no choice but to sit and wait until everyone came home. It turns out that the whole morning when I thought (in my basic polish understanding) that I was agreeing that "yes the weather is cold today" - I was really giving the impression that "yes it is much too cold for me to come to church today". Whoops!!
So a big thank you again to all of the lovely family in Krzemienica for having me, despite a large amount of awkward silences due to a lack of language skills on both sides! I think I will definitely need to keep working on my Polish before any future visits! (and sorry family for the lack of photos - we did take a few but none on my phone! I will have to ask Anna for them)

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A few vintage pics that the family dug up of dad!

Which brings me back to Krakow. I have one final week here of Polish language lessons, followed by my final weekend in Europe next weekend! I am super excited that Vic (one of my good friends from Melb who has been living in England for the year) will be coming to visit me in Krakow for this final weekend as well! I'm sure it will be full of plenty more stories that I can tell you all about when I'm home next Wednesday!!

Sending lots of love to everyone back home! And I certainly hope to catch up with as many of you as possible during my two weeks at home before I fly out to Japan on Dec 10th!

Love Kristina :) xox

Posted by kmklu1 13:50 Archived in Poland Tagged #travel #tourist #backpacking #poland #krakow #newlanguage #challenges #adventures Comments (0)

Diese Welt is' geil Denn ich hab' alles, was ich brauch'

Germany Part 1 - Cologne to Stuttgart

The further I get into my trip the harder it is to find the time to sit down and start, let alone finish a blog entry (sorry guys!). But I’m definitely well overdue to write about the Germany leg of my trip so here goes…

My first two weeks in Germany were crammed full of sightseeing, activities and catch-ups. The first city that I visited was Cologne. I made sure to squeeze this one into my super tight schedule, as this is where my old year 10 German exchange partner (Hannah) is now living with her boyfriend. It was fantastic to catch up with the girl that helped me to fall in love with Germany in the first place! Returning after nine years however, it was certainly scary how rusty my German had become!! Unfortunately I only had time to stop here for one night, but it was still well worth it to see Hannah again and get a tiny snapshot of Cologne.
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Moving south along Germanys’ western boarder, my next stop was Hockenheim. This is a very small town about halfway between Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Here I stayed with my friend Isabella and her parents Richard and Irena. A huge plus was the garden packed full of fresh fruit and veggies, as well as chickens with blue eggs! I enjoyed a beautiful fresh breaky every morning, and was even more excited when Irena cooked up an amazing polish feast for lunch on my second last day! For those of you that know me to be a meat, potato, cheese and chocolate kinda girl/ my staple diet - polish and German food are totally spot on to cater to my needs!! Easily the best feed I’ve had on the entire trip, and makes me extremely proud of my polish background!
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However the most exciting part of my stay was the fact that neither Richard or Irena speak any English! Only Polish and German, so whilst unfortunately my Polish was still way too basic to even attempt, I loved the opportunity to muck around with my German again! Richard and Irena were both great sports too, slowing down there speaking significantly whilst I got back into the swing of German. Richard was even kind enough to offer me multiple shots of his home made schnapps just to ensure I had all the confidence I needed to slur my way through broken German sentences … alcohol always helps ;) !

Aside from alcohol, I also managed to explore Hockenheim and the neighbouring cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg. Hockenheim is probably the most country/rural Germany that I’ve visited and it was very relaxing going for bike rides through the fields with Isabella, or just taking some time to chill out by the river Rhein and enjoy the peaceful scenery. We did a couple of day trips visiting castles and churches, as well as meeting up with a few of Isabella’s friends for dinners and a shisha night. Overall another great catch up and insight into the real Germany!
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My last stop before meeting up with friends for Oktoberfest in Munich was Stuttgart. Here I stayed with my friend Chris. Knowing that I’m an activities enthusiast, Chris had a great idea when I was planning to visit, that I should compete in a German running event with him and his friends! The running event was called “Motorman” and is pretty much a German version of Tough Mudder. The course we did was 16km (you have an option of either 8k or 16k – but go hard or go home right ;) ), and there are a whole range of obstacles along the way, heaps of mud, and a super fun and supportive atmosphere too! Now, knowing that I would be doing the event after two weeks of travelling Europe (which always involves heavy drinking and zero exercise), I knew that I would have to be in extra good shape before leaving Melbourne! Unfortunately this backfired as I ended up training so hard that I injured myself the week before flying out (ITB friction syndrome – tendon overuse type injury in my leg). This meant that I really could do literally zero exercise for about 4weeks prior to the event. Luckily for me, the 4 week break didn’t affect my performance and I only felt my leg playing up in the last 2km which I managed to push through. Even more exciting I actually finished 6th overall out of all the girls competing, and only 6minutes behind the winning girl with my time of 2hours exactly. Maybe I should train properly and come back for the gold next year ;) .

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My weekend with Chris didn’t just stop at the 16km run. I enjoyed being shown around and learning a bit about Stuttgart, as well as visiting the Ritter Sport chocolate factory (YUUUMMMM) where we obviously stocked up for our post 16km run chocolate fix! On top of all that, and following the running event, we went to the house of two of Chris’ friends for what started as a relaxed recovery BBQ, but escalated into the biggest and blurriest night I can honestly say that I’ve had in years! Apparently huge amounts of exercise followed by copious volumes of alcohol results in craziness and memory loss. Neither Chris nor myself could remember how we got home from the club, which was made even more confusing since neither of us had had any money. So another awesome day, and definitely a big tick for the sports activities being thrown in the mix!

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Following our wild night we spent a lazy morning nursing our hangovers on the couch and educating ourselves with a documentary on cocaine. Then Chris drove me into the heart of Stuttgart for a bit of sightseeing and local history. Stuttgart has some really cool stuff going on with plans to move the enormous central train station underground with a very futuristic looking final product. It also boasts Europe's biggest pedestrian mall walkway, and if you take the lifts up to the roof of some of the taller mall buildings they’ve got super cool sky beaches open for the warmer months every year with real sand, grass and even a bar for the perfect sun tanning experience!

One last (much needed) relaxing movie night and a bit of practice of my shisha skills completed the weekend in Stuttgart before jumping on another bus early Monday morning ready to head to Munich.

I think that’s enough writing for now so I’ll sign off here and hopefully get the second installment of my Germany blog (Munich, Oktoberfest and Berlin) up in the next week or so!

Another huge thank you to all of my German friends and their partners/families for letting me stay and showing me around your towns and cities! Definitely added hugely to my trip and it’s always so great to get a local insight when visiting another country!

Sending hugs and kisses to you all!
Love Kristina xoxo

Posted by kmklu1 02:32 Archived in Germany Tagged #travel #backpacking #germany #europe #drinking #running #catchups #westgermany Comments (0)

Red lights, bikes and munchies

Eurotrip 2015 - Amsterdam

Amsterdam, wow. Where to start! Such a crazy fun city to start my Euro trip!

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Amsterdam is a stunning city filled with so much history and so so many bikes! It’s definitely refreshing to see everyone out being active and cruising around the streets on bicycles instead of clogging up the city with noisy cars. One of the stand out things that I noticed was the obvious lack of obesity, the Dutch are already gorgeous looking people, but with all the daily exercise of biking instead of driving, even 60 and 70year olds were cycling past me looking like retired athletes and models! Australia should definitely take a leaf out of their book!

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I was also fascinated to learn that the whole of Amsterdam is actually about 7m below sea level!! I know right, crazy! The Dutch have a whole heap of different infrastructure in place to ensure that the ocean doesn’t creep back in, and it totally explains why the city is filled with canals and cobbled streets and paths with barely any grassy patches! The whole “lets build our city in the ocean thing” was done because the Netherlands is so small that they need all the space they can get. The houses also have to be super efficient on space so they’re all really skinny townhouse type houses or apartments that go up about 4 storeys each. To save space the stairways are also super steep and narrow - I actually have no idea how the really old people manage! But again great exercise doing all the stairs! The houses also tend to lean forwards slightly because it’s too hard to get furniture and things up and down the crazy steep stairs, so instead they set-up rope pulleys out the front windows when they need to transport stuff up and down! They think of everything!

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Aside from bike riding, I also managed to score some rollerblades from the hostel that were great for a bit of morning exercise lapping the big park out the front of my hostel (Vondelpark).

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I felt pretty trendy cruising round on the blades and thought I was doing pretty well until a 70something year old guy zoomed past me on his rollerblades, hands behind his back like an absolute pro! I hope I can be a trendy rollerblading granny one day too! Ha!

The hostel I stayed at was also a hub of activity and I pretty much had a fresh set of new mates everyday. I was also really excited to catch up with my friend Marijke who is from Holland (we met in India a few years ago). She took a train 2hrs to get all the way across the Netherlands to come and catch up with me for a day! Big thanks for the huge effort chicky and for such a fun day exploring!
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To be honest I really didn’t get around to seeing too much nightlife as the first half of the week I was too jet lagged and kept passing out by about 9.30pm at the latest, or had done that many day activities and started drinking far too early. I think something to do with turning 25 also gives me this uncontrollable urge to feel comfortable and well rested at all times, I have no idea what happened to the old Kristina that used to sacrifice as much sleep as humanly possible if it meant more time for partying! However by the end of my first week I did manage to muster up some extra energy and improve my stamina in order to stay out past my bedtime ;).

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I spent one day touring the red like district which was actually super interesting, my highlight was definitely the prostitutes museum - no there were no actual prostitutes there - but lots of memoires and mock rooms made up to give people an insight into their lives. At one point you even got to sit in a chair with a pretend window in front of you that had a screen in it with a video on repeat of people walking past a prostitutes window and the different looks and reactions they would have! Fascinating stuff, although I think I’ll stick with my Physio career ;)

The food in Amsterdam is also waaaay too good to pass up! It’s a good thing I rode my bike around all week because with the amount of waffles, ice cream and other junk that I scoffed I really feel like I should be at least 5kg heavier! Amsterdam is definitely prepared to cater for stoner munchies! But that’s another story …

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After my action filled week here in Amsterdam it's time to pack up my things and move on to Germany! I'm taking a train this arvo to cologne to catch up with Hannah and stay the night with her and her boyfriend. It's been a challenging morning getting ready with the first hiccup being the painful realisation that I packed a stupid amount of luggage (struggling to zip up my suitcase in week 1 of a 3 month trip is definitely not cool!). The second surprise was walking out the front of my hostel to unchain my rental bike so I could return it, only to realise the bike seat had been pinched!! Having opted to not get theft insurance on my bike, (I had figured the bike locks were enough), I knew I'd be in trouble trying to return the bike without this vital component. Now I'm not entirely proud of what I did next, but in these circumstances some ethical boundaries need to be stretched. It just so happened that there was a rental bike from the same bike company tied up just meters away. A quick loosening of screws and I easily managed to relocate the seat onto my bike, before making a hasty getaway and successfully returning my rental!! Eeek I just hope the other bike owner bought the insurance!!

Now onto Germany - the part of my euro trip I’ve been most excited for! Can’t wait to get back into my German and catch up with a heap of German friends along the way!

Sending my love to all my family and friends back home!

Love Kristina
xoxoxox

Posted by kmklu1 02:03 Archived in Netherlands Tagged travel amsterdam netherlands holland europe adventures backpacking exploring wanderlust Comments (0)

Facial Fractures, Internal Brain Bleeds and a Nose Job

Both the unluckiest, and luckiest, accident of my life.

It's about time that I filled you all in on exactly what happened to me on Monday the 23rd of June, and my progress since.

It was day 4 at Cardies (Cardrona ski resort). The back bowl finally opened resulting in a super fun morning with my friend Marijke consisting of pretty much all fresh pow tracks! After lunch I headed over to the park for two hours to practice my skills on the box with my mate Lochy. When I finally chose to call it Lochy agreed it was time to finish up and head to my car for the drive home. Typically, for my last run of the day I decided to send it off one of my fave jumps (a natural side hit by the main chairlift). I still remember hitting it perfectly. Flying down the groomed run towards my jump as fast as I could, the exhilarating feeling of the wind rushing past me, approaching my jump extra wide so that I could get more air, pushing down hard through my legs to pop off the jump as high as I possibly could.

Then I landed. I overshot my usual landing spot, missed the downslope and instead touched down on the flat. My right ski binding released (I knew I should've tightened my ski din settings!), my right ski disappeared behind me, but my body continued to fly forwards with just one ski on the snow. I attempted frantically to turn to my right and push down through my left foot to slow myself down. I was heading directly towards the loading station for the main chairlift and as I came closer and closer I thought to myself, "oh shoot, this is going to be humiliating when the whole lift queue sees me eat it".

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That's all I remember. I woke up two days later in Dunedin Hospital. Dunedin Hospital is a four hour drive from Cardrona ski resort, but luckily a much quicker trip via helicopter which was how I was transported from Cardrona Ski Resort to Dunedin Hospital. Upon arriving at Dunedin Hospital I was immediately rushed into surgery where surgeons and their teams worked to stabilise my condition, and then correct my injuries. It was determined that I had sustained six internal brain bleeds in my left frontal lobe, and one in my right frontal lobe, along with multiple facial fractures including my nose. As a result I underwent emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, along with facial reconstruction surgery to correct my skull fractures and my nose. Two metal plates are now permanently in my skull over the fracture sight, my frontal sinus had to be obliterated and I also got a free nose job! ( I personally think it's a bit of an improvement on my old nose!). Following the surgery I was left in an induced coma for 24 hours. The medical team had no idea what state I would be in when I was taken out of the coma, but did expect some level of personality change due to the multiple bleeds I had sustained in the front of my brain.

When I woke up from my Coma I remember feeling very groggy and hearing the voices of my best friends from Wanaka, Holly and Justin. They asked if I could open my eyes. Due to the amount of swelling on my face I had to slowly pry my eyes open with my hands. My vision slowly cleared and I was able to make out their faces exclaiming, "Justin and Holly!". I still remember the excitement and relief in their voices at the fact that I could talk and remembered who they were. The first couple of days were a bit of a blur as I was super tired and drugged up; probably lucky as it dampened my extreme embarrassment at being washed butt-naked by the nursing staff! I didn't manage to get out of bed until day2 post op due to low Hb levels (79 for my physio friends reading this), everyone else this just means that I would have been too dizzy due to my blood loss in the accident and had to wait a few days for my body to replenish.

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Brushing my teeth in hospital

I had an incredible recovery that impressed the doctors and nurses, along with my family and friends. After one week in hospital I was discharged and admitted to rehab. Here I underwent extensive cognitive testing and saw a whole range of therapists including physio (ironic being the patient for a change), psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, and medical. Pretty much every test in the book was tried on me and it was a gigantic relief for me, my family and friends when the rehab team were able to conclude that my frontal lobe function was barely affected. I possibly had very minimal changes in higher level abstract thinking as testing showed me to be in an "average" range, rather than "above average" which was what i was predicted to be at pre morbidly due to my high level of education and physio degree. The psychologist stated that my brain should return to full function after a couple of months!

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However not everything went smoothly in my recovery. I had an ongoing runny nose which the doctors were concerned about as it may indicate a CSF (brain fluid) leak! Some testing was done immediately as if this was the case, further surgery may be required (eeeek!). On my second day at the rehab facility, I was horrified to notice that my forehead had a number of holes in it. Not complete holes, but areas were there was obviously no bone under the skin, and the skin would move in and out at the same time as my pulse, making me look kind of like a creepy alien! I wasted no time in reporting these findings straight to Richard (the rehab team doctor), so that he could liaise with my facial surgeons and have the situation rectified ASAP! Unfortunately, when he recieved a response two days later, my surgeons stated that it was perfectly normal to have the “holes” visible on the front of my forehead as these were where they had to drill into my skull to fix things up following my accident. Allegedly my skull would heal itself and the holes would disappear in time, I would just have to be patient until this happened. As for my terrifying CSF leak, it was found to be nothing more than an upper respiratory tract infraction (minor cold with a runny nose), thank goodness I wouldn't have to go through another surgery!!

The only ongoing issue since my accident seems to be the loss of some of my right eye vision. I have lost around the upper 3rd of my vision but still have the important line of sight region and hopefully this will recover. Despite this, I am absolutely ecstatic with my outstanding recovery and beyond relieved to have avoided any serious deficits in brain function or personality changes as were expected. Once I was taken off all my medications in rehab I no longer felt fatigued throughout the day and had to stop having my lunch time naps as I found i couldn't sleep until 2am (I obviously didn't need the extra sleep that most brain injured patients need). This further backed up my feelings that I had miraculously escaped brain damage. It really is just my skull and scars healing up, i can function as usual, exercise as usual and have normal length days without wearing myself into the ground (woohoo!).

After only 8 days in rehab I was finally discharged and able to return to my wonderful home in Wanaka! It was a huge relief to finally be back and able to catch up with all my friends that I hadn’t seen for two and a half weeks! I had coffee at Kai and met up with Casey, the lifty that actually witnessed my stack/tumble/yardsale/disaster and was first to attend to me, slash possibly saved my life. He filled me in on all the gory details and was able to dismiss many rumours that had been spread around town (for example that he had to hold my brain in whilst waiting for ski patrol to come and see me). It turns out that after watching me stack, superman into one of the chairlift poles, and then come to a stop 10m further from the pole, I was laying lifeless in the snow and he immediately ran to see what condition i was in. He saw that I was being chocked by my helmet strap and that he had to remove it, open my airway and get my tongue out of the back of my throat to get me breathing again. Luckily ski patrol got to me within 2minutes, and whilst waiting for them to come I came to and was extremely aggressive and kept trying to touch my forehead where i had bone sticking out and brain visible. Casey described the amazing lengths he took to keep me calm, stop me from touching my head, and keep me in a stable condition until Ski Patrol arrived. After hearing his story I feel that much more appreciative of his help, along with the ski patrollers and other lifties. I also found out about the calls made by ski patrol to my poor parents back in australia, and the incredible lengths my housemate Justin went to after receiving a similar call from our mate Lochy, to then find my dads phone number so that the patrollers were able to contact my family.

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Whilst I still haven't been able to start back at work yet (fingers crossed for next week!), I am loving being back with all my Wanaka friends. As it will take around 12months for my skull to fully heal I regrettably have had to put anymore skiing and snowboarding plans on hold until next year. Thankfully I was able to get full refunds on both my Cardrona and Treble Cone season passes so I can still afford to eat and pay my rent despite not working. With all my spare time at the moment I've been filling my days with coffee catch ups, walks, bike rides, gym and even a spot of baking. As it slows down the healing process I'm also not allowed to drink any alcohol for 3 whole months! I'm definitely setting a new record for myself, though I have to admit my body has been extremely appreciative of the break!

Apologies that it's taken me so long to get this blog entry done! As you can see there was a lot for me to include so I hope I haven't overloaded you all! I'm more than happy to answer any extra questions you guys have and overall i'm just stoked that I survived the whole thing without any more serious consequences!

Love and miss you all! Please enjoy every day and never forget to tell your friends and family how much you value and care about them!

Kristina xxxx

Posted by kmklu1 00:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged skiing new_zealand cardrona accident injury brain_injury brain_damage nose_job skull_fracture Comments (0)

Preseason Activities and Adventures

I had an absolute ball on my 24th birthday. I spent the day with two of my newest best friends, Tom and Holly, in Queenstown. Most of the afternoon was taken up with trampolining at an indoor centre based on the edge of Queenstown. This venue is actually used by many olympic skiers (including Nick Goepper) and snowboarders to assist in their training whilst the ski hills in the northern hemisphere are closed. We were thrilled to practice strapping on a snowboard replica to our feet that still allowed us to practice jumping on the trampolines whilst executing various grabs, 180’s and 360’s. Holly took both Tom and I buy surprise with her unexpected trampolining expertise and execution of various flips and other trampoline tricks, whilst Tom and I were just proud to be able to bounce higher than her and avoid injuring ourselves. Following our action packed afternoon we managed to smash some cheap pizza and make it out in Queenstown for a night filled with cocktails, dancing, new friends and who knows what else.

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Some cheeky snaps of my birthday trampolining fun (click photo to enlarge)

Upon returning to Wanaka, we managed to fill the last two weeks before the ski hills opened with a ton of fun activities. Namely collecting firewood along with my housemates, jogging and bike riding, trial week at the gym, and a great hike up Rob Roys Peak with Justin. Rob Roys Peak is one of many huge peaks surrounding Wanaka and is supposed to take a solid 8 hours to hike up and back during the day. Justin and I will take any excuse for a challenge so were determined to smash this time. In the end we managed to hike the whole way up and back at a phenomenal pace, completing the return journey in exactly 4hours, including the half hour stop we took on the snow covered peak for our lunch. Overall it was a great hike and I'm definitely looking forward to giving it another go in spring/summer when the snow has melted and the temp is slightly more bearable up top.

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During the slow pre-ski season period I also made the decision to quit my bartending job at Lalaland and switch over to bartend at Waterbar. Lalaland had unfortunately been far too quiet and hence in order to pay my bills throughout the season I really had no choice but to resign and apply for a new job. Luckily securing myself a job at Waterbar was super easy as the manager there, Ian, already knew of me through my work at Lalaland, so hired me on the spot. Waterbar is also a super fun restaurant/bar to work at and always screens the big soccer and rugby matches, with particularly big crowds showing up for all the world cup matches. It’s a great bar throughout the season and was lucky enough to secure the staff discount contract for all Cardrona winter season employees, in addition to having it’s own happy hour from 5.30-6.30pm every night. I get along really well with all of the staff that work there and I thoroughly look forward to working with them for the rest of the winter season.

On Friday June 20th, Cardrona ski area finally opened. I was super thrilled for the opening of this season as I had finally managed to find myself a proper ski crew, all awesome skiers bar one snowboarder. Despite thoroughly enjoying my previous ski seasons in Canada, it was definitely a relief to be surrounded by likeminded skiers, as opposed to being the token skier in a steazy snowboarder crew. As much as I do enjoy switching to snowboarding from time to time, I can never deny that I'm far more competent on skis, and am most certainly a skier at heart.

Whilst there was minimal snow cover, and hence very little terrain for opening weekend at Cardies, it's always an amazing feeling to get back on skis. I have nothing but incredibly positive memories of the entire weekend; the feeling of snow under my skis, exhilarating speed laps down the groomers with my new crew, practicing and nailing my backwards skiing on blue and green runs, the list goes on!

On Monday the 23rd of June things came to an unexpected and completely accidental end. As I expect you've all heard by now, I was involved in a nasty ski accident. Obviously there is a lot to tell in terms of my accident, hospitalisation, treatment and recovery, so I can't fit it all in this same blog entry. To avoid keeping you all waiting I will do my best to post my next blog entry in the next day or two.

Love and miss you all,
Kristina
xxx

Posted by kmklu1 22:43 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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