The injury that changed my life


“I went from climbing a mountain to unable to make a cup of tea in a moment.” A bucket list trip to Japan ended in buckets of tears for 24-year old ELLA MUMBY, when she broke her collarbone while riding a bike. Here’s how it affected her health – both mental and physical – and how she’s tried to turn the experience into a positive.

I dislocated my collarbone in Japan. My boyfriend and I decided to go bike riding for some sightseeing. I was on a bike that was too small for me, the front tyre wasn’t pumped up enough and I wasn’t wearing the right gear. It was a perfect storm, and I lost control. Instead of swerving onto the road, I swerved into a metal pole.

It was extreme, excruciating pain. I thought I’d go into shock because of the pain, but I didn’t. I just immediately knew something serious had gone wrong, because I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything.

Thankfully I had travel insurance. Even though the accident happened towards the end of the trip, my boyfriend was supposed to stay an extra week, so I needed him to come home early to look after me. The travel insurance let us book entirely new flights, so we could come home together. Plus, instead of having stopover in Gold Coast, we got direct flights to Melbourne.

Not worrying about money was the best part. Even though Japan was cheap, catching taxis, hospital appointments and all the other expenses add up. It’s all just another thing to think about when you’ve got an injury. I couldn’t make any decisions or think straight when I was in that state, so travel insurance saved me.

If we get back our whole claim, we’re likely to get $1,500 back. They’re processing our claim for expenses incurred over there, but this total doesn’t even include the flights they booked for us, which could’ve been thousands more. I think the only thing we may have to pay is excess, which is around $200.

I don’t have health insurance in Australia. My experience without it has been fine, but I’ve had to pay for all my chiropractor appointments following my injury, which has put me hundreds of dollars out of pocket. If I had health insurance I could have claimed some of that money back. However, I’m extremely lucky I don’t need surgery. I’ve been going through the public health system, which means that there are long waits for everything, like seeing specialists. If I needed surgery, the wait could’ve been long and I would have had no say in where or who performed it.

The biggest struggle was losing my independence. Not being able to dress or make food for myself has been super difficult. It’s also affected my job. Because my body is spending so much time healing from this physical injury, I feel like I’m a lot slower mentally. And I feel so tired all the time. 

It’s been really hard not exercising. It’s how I unwind from the daily stresses and maintain my energy levels –now I don’t have that outlet. I feel like all I do is sit at work and sit at home. The physio said I could do some light walking, but moving around just hurts too much right now.

I used to concentrate on things I couldn’t do, but now I concentrate on things I can. Before my accident, I had a moment at the top of Mount Fuji, where I thought, ‘I’m so glad to be able-bodied to do this.’ We spend so long wanting to change our bodies, but they’re actually amazing things and we should be so grateful. Then this happened and I thought, ‘What a sick joke!’ But the whole experience has motivated me to treat my body better – I’m even looking into things like yoga, which I’ve never tried before.


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