PTSD treatment: A triathlete’s career ends after a freak accident, but therapy leads her to love

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A super-fit businesswoman whose triathlete career came to an abrupt end when she was left broke at the end of a race leaving her badly injured and suffering from PTSD has told how a strange twist of fate saw her accident lead to love.

Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease in 2010, Kat Parkin, 39, took up swimming, running and cycling to achieve peak fitness so she wasn’t dependent on pills never ending to stay healthy.

Competitive by nature, Kat, from Midsomer Norton, Somerset, who runs an equestrian outfitter, soon took part in 70-mile triathlons – combining all three disciplines – all over the world.

Kat and Ieuan take a bike ride together (Collect/PA Real Life)

But on July 17, 2019, while finishing a cycle race in Horne, Surrey, she was hit by a vehicle – leaving her unconscious, with burns all over her body, a bullet-sized hole golf in his left knee and a post-traumatic struggle. stress disorder (PTSD) which left her too scared of traffic to ride a bike or run on the roads.

With her physical injuries healed, a mental trainer then worked with Kat to restore her confidence and in October 2019 introduced her to fellow triathlete Ieuan Hudson, 28, also a business owner, to they fall in love.

She said: “Luckily my mental trainer worked with top athletes and knew that Ieuan was just as passionate about triathlons as I was.”

Kat and Ieuan (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I actually knew Ieuan, because he was a bit of a star in our area. He texted me and we didn’t stop talking.

“I was still recovering and was pretty much mobile at the end of October, so we were able to go on a few dates together.

“He came to see me every weekend in November and we clicked right away.”

Kat’s knee injury (Collect/PA Real Life)

She adds: “We were both passionate about sports and endurance racing. We were just on the same wavelength.

“But I think the most important thing was that there was never anything to worry about with him. I just felt like I could trust him.”

Kat – who moved from her home in East Grinstead, East Sussex, to Somerset to be with him within three months of meeting – says Ieuan helped restore her confidence and even reintroduced her to cycling.

Kat before her accident (Collect/PA Real Life)

She recalled how in November 2019, when she was battling PTSD, he took her to an airfield at a military camp, so she could ride her bike without fear of encountering traffic, adding: ‘C was so thoughtful of him.

“It was the first time I had ridden a bike since the accident and I was able to cycle again without fear of seeing cars.

“Already I felt lucky to have met him.”

Kat with her dogs (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added, “I completely trusted Ieuan from the start, which was just amazing.”

But the road to recovery has not been easy for Kat, who had just completed a cycling time trial in Surrey the day she was crushed near the finish line.

The driver was later convicted of failing to stop and driving carelessly and was given a suspended prison sentence.

Swimming Kat (Collect/PA Real Life)

Left with burns all over her body and injuries that ended her career as a competitive triathlete, she says her worst problems were psychological, as she struggled to overcome PTSD.

She said: “I was really scared when it happened because I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

“I could only really feel severe pain in my ankle, but I was covered in blood.”

Kat’s knee injury (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “The most terrifying part for me was when I lost all memory of my family’s phone numbers so I started to panic.

“I was afraid that my brain was not normal.”

Kat was rushed to East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, Surrey, where she was treated for multiple injuries. She underwent surgery to pin her broken right ankle and had a two-inch hole the size of a golf ball in her left knee.

Kat on her horse (Collect/PA Real Life)

At first, she still clung to the hope that she would start cycling again in a few weeks.

She said: “I thought I would be back on a bike in a few weeks and it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.

“But when I was released the next day, I was completely immobile and in constant pain all over my body.”

Kat’s rehabilitation (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I needed my friends to come and help me with everything. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t go to the toilet or shower and I couldn’t eat on my own.

“I lost my independence”

As well as needing physiotherapy, Kat received months of specialist treatment for burns to her back, arms and shoulders.

Kat was a competitive triathlete (Collect/PA Real Life)

Still, her physical recovery was easier than her psychological battle, as she battled short-term memory loss and PTSD.

Kat, who says her GP told her she had classic signs of post-concussion syndrome and post-traumatic amnesia, added: ‘For three months I was alone, immobile and trying to overcome the cerebral side of things, which was the hardest thing.

“I also underwent surgery during this time.”

Kat’s injuries after the accident (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I thought, ‘Okay, the broken bones will heal’, but with your brain, you can’t tell if it’s okay.

“There were times when I woke up at night and didn’t even recognize the house I was in.”

Feeling isolated and scared for her future, Kat began obsessively writing down everything that had happened to her during the day in a desperate attempt to “take back control” of her life.

Kat’s rehabilitation (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “It was horrible and terrifying.

“I was sitting at home crying. I got to the point where I was trying to write everything down so I could remember everything.

But, realizing she needed help with her PTSD, a friend recommended a mental coach in August 2019, who eventually introduced her to Ieuan, who runs a dog training business, a few months later. late.

Kat on her Reilly bike (Collect/PA Real Life)

Kat, whose health issues also led her to quit her job of 15 years and start her own business in March 2022, said: ‘It was a really tough time for me because I was just starting to come to terms with the fact that I would never become the top athlete that I had worked so hard for.

“But it was also an amazing moment, looking back, because I met Ieuan through my coach after he hooked us up because we were both triathletes.”

By November, the loving couple had four dates, with Ieuan traveling from Somerset every weekend to see her.

Kat on her Reilly bike (Collect/PA Real Life)

They moved in together in January 2020, just two months before the first national Covid lockdown and quickly added two rescue dogs, George a four-year-old Dalmatian and Peaches, a two-year-old Cypriot sausage dog, to their family.

Unfortunately, walking the dogs was difficult for Kat, who always worried about encountering traffic when she was out.

She said: “We lived in tiny alleys and even walking along the alley, if I heard a car anywhere, even if it was miles away, I would be terrified.”

Kat’s injuries after the accident (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I had to go through a lot of therapy and I still don’t think I will totally overcome this fear.”

But Kat says Ieuan’s thoughtful encouragement was so helpful that over Christmas she even bought a Reilly all-terrain gravel bike, which rekindled her love of the outdoors.

She said: “The lockdown was a good time for us because we were in a nice part of the country and it was very quiet so I made a lot of progress with cycling.”

Kat’s wounds (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “On Christmas Day I took my new bike out for a spin in the rain and after five meters my love of cycling returned.

“I’m always afraid of being hit when I’m on the road, but I’m not afraid of riding off-road.

“I had some spectacular crashes, but it didn’t put me off and Ieuan and I love cycling together.”

The couple in love (Collect/PA Real Life)

Along with finding love and regaining her confidence as a cyclist, Kat also launched a new business, We are Dappled, in March this year.

Born into a “show jumping family”, she rediscovered her equestrian roots in 2021 when she adopted Darren, a three-year-old warm-blooded horse, and says her equestrian outfitting was a natural follow-on.

She said: “I may have been through hell and back, but now I feel like I have unlimited potential and I’m so excited about the future.”

X-ray of Kat’s ankle (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I have never felt so happy.”

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