“I actually got sick in July, during the Jeffrey’s Bay event. I had gone to Africa early to go surfing and prepare. I love JBay and had gone the year before just to surf, plus I thought I could get some waves in before the whole crew arrived. I was happy to get a fews surf in. Then I first started feeling ill when I went on an overnight safari. My head was on fire and so was my body. I’d never felt like that before and I actually called my brother Mikey who said he thought I needed to go to the doctor. I didn’t want to believe him, so I called WSL Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer and told her how I felt. She told me to please drive to the hospital. Mikey got the medical team organised and then we went from there; I had to go to Port Elizabeth where I was admitted through Emergency.
The official diagnosis in the hospital at JBay was Influenza A. I spent time in hospital, and then came back to JBay where I was treated by the medical team. I couldn’t travel until my fever broke, and I stayed in bed for probably ten days straight. All-up I lost 8kgs, and at one stage we thought I had pneumonia as well. I don’t reckon I ate for a week. It’s the sickest I have ever been in my life.
So now, I haven’t been able to shake it and I have been diagnosed with post-viral syndrome from getting Influenza A. I am pretty much battling chronic fatigue, which is a real challenge. People think it’s just about being tired but there is more to it – although that does have a lot to do with it.
I actually was going to try and surf in the Surf Ranch Pro in California. I thought that of all the events on the calendar that was the one that I could manage myself the best at, with the set schedule, set number of waves etc. I even flew to California for it – that’s how convinced I was. I came early with the idea that I would go and see Mark Kozuki, because he has always fixed me, and then I’d go up to Lemoore for the training days pre-event. I went and saw Kozuki the day I landed, and then I literally changed my flight for the next day and flew home. I spent one night in California.”
The next steps:
“I’ve been seeing a bunch of different doctors, including a specialist in Sydney. It’s hard because chronic fatigue is so difficult to treat. I’ve been resting a lot, eating right, taking herbs and reading Harry Potter, which is my new favourite thing. And I try and go for a small swim every day – that’s a highlight for me.
Now that I have spent so much time out of the water and because I can’t surf in Maui, I have to ask for the 2019 wildcard. So hopefully the WSL decides that I am a good candidate, and I’m back next year.
It’s been interesting to watch the Tour from here, when I feel good and I can. I’ve never been out of events… I’ve been injured before, but I’ve never actually taken time off. This is new for me, to actually be sick and realise that I can’t just push through it. Last year I had no business surfing on my knee, but I decided that I would and so I did. It’s different this time.
In terms of the Title race I’ve always looked up to Steph, so I’m cheering for her and I hope that she wins. Lakey has had a great year though and I’m proud of her for stepping up.”
Interview thanks to the World Surf League and Rip Curl.