Skip to Content

Ashley Durham – Fighting Fit

Injured in Night Navigation Training

On night navigation at Kapooka, the guy behind me didn’t quite stop in time, bashed into me, I went down the embankment and went end over end. My foot went out to stop the roll and the arch of my foot just flattened.

Ashley Durham

It was hoped that the bone would fuse on its own, but because of what happened to all the soft tissue tendons around the bone, it was being pulled apart and wasn’t able to join the bone by itself. So I had the screws put into the arch of the foot to hold it together to fuse.

After that initial injury, I went to 1HSB (Base Hospital Holsworthy Barracks) and the cartilage had got to the point where the tendons had shredded. After that the screws came out ahead of schedule because they had moved in the bone itself and they didn’t want to cause a re-break. An arthroscopy was done on the ankle with half the cartilage in that ankle being cut out as well.

Facing a Med Class 4

I wasn’t happy about it. I wasn’t happy at all, because basically I went straight out of school into the military because that was all I wanted to do. So I was a bit disheartened by that fact. But what was really disappointing was that they decided that, such was the injury, I wasn’t going to be a candidate for standby or active reserve, and unless I could prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the injury was gone then I wasn’t going to be able to re-enlist.  Even nearly 12 years later now, my injury is still there so I’m not going to be able to re-enlist in the future.

Rehab is challenging

As far as rehabilitation goes, I have always seen it as a challenge and I enjoy that part, and while it’s been a hurdle I’ve enjoyed getting into it and proving to myself that it is something I can take on.

The hardest part was going from doing whatever I want whenever I want physically to having to know where to draw the line. That has been a bit difficult because you want to get moving, you want to do something that you used to be able to do and having to reign yourself in has been pretty challenging.

My support network got me through

Family for me was a major benefit, they tried everything to get me to the level to help me progress through it. My partner has been very supportive. I think she worries more than me about my injuries and I keep telling her to stress less about it. She is always making sure that I’m not pushing it too far or, if I am pushing it too far, she orders me to stop and take a break, so I can’t argue with that. Despite that, she has been great about it.

Entering the Civvies Sector

With the Med Class 4 they decided they would organise my rehabilitation after I had discharged and entered the civvie sector. My physical rehabilitation and Return to Work started about 2 or 3 months after I discharged.

I was in Bathurst and, because of the size of the town and my limited experience, I bounced around a few retail jobs. I really didn’t want to do this at the time, but they were my options because I lacked experience. However, I was also reeling from the fact that I couldn’t be what I wanted to be anymore.

Making the move to Albury

Albury was a place I was posted before, in Latchford, so I knew the population was a lot bigger. Job prospect wise it was a bit better because in Bathurst there were more jobs that involved load bearing which I wasn’t able to do. I had an idea of what was around and I could focus on areas that I knew was within my ability.

Fitness is my passion

I started out at the Wodonga Sport and Leisure Centre for about 18-19 hours per week. My medical conditions restricted me because the foot wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing so currently it is back down to 12 hours per week.

I faced the challenge of not being able to physically finish my Personal Training course but, having the opportunity to work here and learn new skills, persevering has allowed me to finish the course. I also know how to do many other tasks around the place. Now that I have persevered and asked questions, I started the Work Trial here and now I’m back on track working in an industry I’m passionate about.

A major motivation for me to finish my certificate was to acknowledge that, due to my injury, I can now focus on rehabilitating others like myself who have lower leg injuries or any other injuries for that matter. It gives me the personal experience to help others who have similar injuries, whether they are younger or older clients.

Staying Positive

I think the major thing for me was staying positive. There was a period there where I did kind of let it get me down and I got in a bit of a state where I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. When I look back at that now I realise that during that time I could have made a lot more progress if I had actively gone out and been more positive about my recovery. As difficult as it is sometimes, my advice is don’t give up on it and take any opportunities you are given because it can be just that one thing that changes your whole outlook.

Hear from Ashley Durham’s employer Nicole Roberts about what his employment has brought to the workplace.

Average: 3.2 (9 votes)