Meet Kelly. She's one of our members at FitazFK Gym
and her story is fking inspiring! She's come a long way from losing her leg at the age of 9 in a freak accident, to extreme weight loss and struggling with depression and anxiety. Today, Kelly has turned her life around and is gearing up for her first fitness comp this October, coached by one of our trainers, Sophie.
This is her story.
My life has been different to most people you may know, some for the better, some for the worse. You could say it has been a rollercoaster of highs and extreme lows. I never want to change it now because I wouldn’t be the person I am today nor be where I am, but in the past, that was definitely on my mind.
This is just the beginning; my name is Kelly Rose Warren and I am currently 18 years old. My upbringing was for sure a good one and normal too. I have two older brothers and my mum & dad. I had everything I needed and more, growing up. My father worked extremely hard just to make sure of it. We always had a nice home to go to and we certainly had enough food too. I was always a cheeky happy child who loved to dance. I wasn’t an academic child but I loved sports and dancing. I had been dancing since I could walk basically & lived and breathed it. My ambition as a child was always to be a ballerina, at one point I was dancing 5 days a week after school. In 2009 mum planned a mother daughter trip to Sydney to go watch the Australian Ballet at the Opera House. I never made it to see that show…
On the 1st of May 2009, my life became something I and no one else could have ever imagined for me, especially a 9-year-old child.
On that day, my life changed, I changed and so did my family. I was involved in a pedestrian vs bus incident which crushed my foot to bits. My mum was there and watched this happen to her 9 year old daughter. I could never imagine the pain she felt that day, I think she felt it more than me.
All I remember, was being on the curb side of the road, trying to cry, but I could feel nothing, everything was just a blur. What happened to me? How did this even happen? WHY did this happen to me? Those questions are still unanswered today.
I do not remember much from that day, though I do remember my mum desperately screaming for help and trying to get me to stay awake, I wanted to shut it out and just go to sleep, but what if I did go to sleep, may I have never woken up again?
I was rushed off to hospital in the ambulance, I do not remember what happened the rest of that day. My family was in Brisbane where I lived, whilst I was on holidays in Sydney. My mum had to make that dreadful phone call to my dad, and my dad was on the next flight down to Sydney. I couldn’t imagine what that hour flight would have been like for him, not knowing what was going to happen to me.
I was in surgery for 12 hours as they tried to stop the loss of blood and try to save my left foot which had been crushed & dismantled. 12 hours of my parents sitting there, waiting and just hoping that I would be ok. I have no memory of the next few days, but the doctors had attempted to save my foot but after 2 days, they blood was still not circulating after they did a pin prick test and that’s when the surgeons told my mother and father that they would need to amputate my left foot. My parents didn’t tell me till the next day as they had no idea how to explain it to me. My dad stayed up all night trying to figure out the right words to say. In the end, he realised there is no right words to say, nothing is going to sound good about losing a body part. My dad told me that they were going to have to remove my foot as the operation did not work. The first thing I said to my father, “Daddy will I ever be able to dance again?”
I do not recall any of the first week that I was in hospital as I was on so many pain killers and drugs. I thought my foot was gone at the start, after I started wheezing off the medications I didn’t realise I had a second 8 hour operation to remove it.
I had skin taken from my thigh and attached to the end of my damaged leg. The next few weeks were tough ones. My brothers and my friends were still in Brisbane whilst I was stuck in hospital. I remember making phone calls to my brothers and it would always end up in tears. It would have been horrible for them. Dad flew back to Brisbane every few days to see them, but mum was with me the whole 3 weeks I was there. My oldest brother had just started high school and my youngest needing help with his homework, but no one was there to help him. How could he have focused on his homework anyway when his little sister has been involved in something like this and his mum and dad were constantly not there?
During those 3 weeks, I did not once look at my leg, it was bandaged most of the time and when the dressings were being changed someone had to hold a sheet up so I could not see it. I dreaded these dressing changes, they were excruciating. Having a skin graph also meant I was constantly getting scabs scraped off my thigh and my leg. As I’ve said these days were hardly a memory, I think I tried to block out the whole time I was in hospital. But I do remember that I had a special visit from two ballerinas from the Australian Ballet after the company had heard what had happened to me. That was cool.
After the 3 weeks, I spent in the children’s hospital living off a few rice bubbles and lots of chocolate milk, I wanted to go home so bad. I remember being told I could go home soon and every day I was asking and sometimes they would say tomorrow, and tomorrow would come but I would still be there. I desperately wanted to leave that place, I wanted to go home and live my life again. I was in denial that this would change my life as you could imagine a 9-year-old not fully understanding the limitations it was going to bring.
I wanted to do everything I always did, just wanted to be my 9-year-old self. I had no idea of what was ahead of me, I was taking it day by day. I remember going for a walk (well I was in a wheelchair) and mum was pushing me just outside the hospital, it was the first time I had left the hospital, I heard traffic, I heard that horrible noise that buses make. I could not do it, I did not want to hear that, it brought back some horrible memories for me. I was scared. I vaguely remember the day I got to go home, the nurses had made a cake for me, and held a little farewell for me. I had some of the best nurses, they will always stick with me, they made such a difference in my recovery in Sydney. As excited as I was to go home, I knew things were going to be different. On the flight home from Sydney, I was sitting in two seats because my leg had to be elevated all the time, this also meant I had an extension on my wheelchair which had to be up at all times.
The next thing I remember was meeting my brothers at the gate. My youngest brother and I just looked at each other and he burst into tears, he was scared, he didn’t know what my future was going to be like, his poor sister. My eldest brother isn’t one to show emotions but we all knew he was feeling it. But despite the fact my life was changed forever, I was so happy to see my brothers again.
We lived in a big 2 story house, my room used to be upstairs but because I couldn’t get up the stairs dad had moved my room downstairs in a spare lounge room. He spent his time in Brisbane decorating the room with positivity posters with animals and motivational quotes on them and painting the walls bright colours, yellow and green to be specific.
Everything was a struggle, I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself, I couldn’t be by myself at all because I needed help with doing literally everything. This took a toll on mum and I’s relationship as she was with my all day every day. I also had to attend doctor’s appointments every day for several weeks on end because I was discharged from hospital soon after the amputation. I hated going to the appointments not only because I knew wherever I was going there was going to be pain involved but also I just wanted to live my normal life. I still hadn’t looked at my leg for a solid 9 months after the amputation. I refused. When I was getting my dressings changed, my skin graph scabs scrapped off, or just check ups I would play with my toys and make the nurses hold a sheet up so there was no possible way I could see my stump. As time went on, I have then researched and been told about the 5 stages of grief, and I believe I was grieving the loss of my foot and in fact I was in denial and so my was family.
I slowly returned to school for half days a couple of times a week after a few months off. I was still on a lot of medication that made me drowsy hence why I couldn’t be there all day, oh and the doctors’ appointments I had to attend to also. I was in grade 5 and had missed a lot for the year. But with the help of my teacher who was amazing and the support staff at my primary school, I managed to catch up at my own pace.
Returning to school was cruisy, as I was known there before the accident had occurred I was still the same Kelly, just without a foot. I then returned to watch some classes at my dancing school, this was frustrating though because I was stuck there watching in a wheelchair when all I wanted to do was dance. But remember earlier when I asked my dad if I would ever dance again… I performed that year in the 2009 end of year concert. It was a major goal of mine, and I did it. I received my first prosthetic leg not long before this, it was covered in smiley faces as I thought why not make it look cool and bright if people are going to notice it anyway.
I had to learn how to walk, run, climb stairs and all the things we take for granted every day, again. But luckily because I was so young I adapted quickly and it became easier as the days went on. I achieved quite a lot in primary school and smashed a fair few mile stones.
I ran the cross country the first year after my accident in 2010, I became sports captain in year 7, I went to nationals for running, even though I knew I was terrible because I was running on an everyday leg but because there wasn’t many AWD (athletes with a disability) in primary school sports, I made it that far. I look back now and laugh because 20 seconds for a 100m is not definitely not national level! Anyway, As I said before, primary school was easy, but my transition to high school is where it all went terribly wrong…
Having to move from my safe & comfortable little community of friends and teachers to a big private Christian school which was extremely strict, wasn’t an easy transition. My new peers obviously were very intrigued with me and what had happened to me so the questions came rolling in like there was no tomorrow.
I couldn’t count how many times I was asked what happened to my leg, this messed with my head a lot. Having to explain such a traumatic experience that I previously had just blocked out of my mind, over and over again was going to affect me sooner or later. It happened sooner and quicker than anyone thought.
Being a ‘normal’ grade 8 student is hard enough, trying to fit in, find the right groups of friends and feeling the need to be liked and accepted by everyone. imagine doing this whilst being the different one and standing out.
I started missing classes regularly, refusing to even go to school on some days, I was drinking and partying all to try and fit in, I lost myself whilst trying to please others, I fell into a state of depression. I lost all my so called ‘friends’ at that Christian school by the end of term 3. I begged mum to move me to the local state school. I thought it would be a fresh start, but I continued behaving the way I was before. I became extremely depressed, drinking more, going out more and at this point, I wanted to die.
I was working at my local McDonalds as my first job, I was about 14 at this stage. I would get my older friends to come through the drive thru whilst I was working and drop me off bottles of alcohol. I didn’t just drink for fun or have 1 or 2, I could get thru a bottle of vodka a night. Some nights I wouldn’t even go out I would just drink myself stupid in my room till I could fall asleep or even pass out. I was well into my self destruction mode. I started self-harming, cutting the tops of my thighs and my wrists, this seemed to take the pain away for a while but left me with scars for the rest of my life. I ended up getting asked to leave the state school after 1 term because of my attendance and behaviour.
Grade 9 came about and mum decided that I should go back to old Christian school and again I thought it would be another fresh start as it was a new year, but again, things did not go to plan. My depression worsened once again, my self harming led to hospital admissions, I got put into a drug and alcohol abuse recovery centre at one point. I was running away from home. I disappeared for days at a time either with friends or be on a bender. I didn’t even come home on Christmas day that year. Grade 9, I look back now, I was so young yet destroying my life.
I attempted suicide twice, and was admitted again to hospital after both attempts. I hated talking about the future and I would refuse to because I knew I wasn’t going to have one, I wasn’t going to even make my 16th birthday, let alone my 18th. I truly believed this, hence why I didn’t care how much trouble I was getting into or the people I was hurting along the way of destroying myself. When I was discharged, my mum would sleep in my room every night to make sure I wasn’t going to die that night. When I wasn’t home, she didn’t know if I was dead or alive.
My mum and dad were on completely different disciplinary levels with my behaviour, dad was against it and would tell me to leave home and not come back, but mum was there for me no matter what. Mum and I had been through so much and at this point, it was our roughest stage. I was so angry at myself, life, what had happened to me and the fact that I got myself into these stupid situations and which was spiralling out of control. My mum was the easiest one to take everything out on, my anger, my pain, everything I felt I took it out on her. I was so angry at her and all she was doing was trying to help me. She took me to doctors, hospitals, psych wards, specialists, everything you could think of to seek help for me but I accepted nothing.
Grade 10 came, I moved schools again, another state school. It was somewhat ok at the beginning I found a good group of friends and they took me in as one of their own. But this soon ended due to my attitude towards people & I was hardly ever there. I ended up with very few friends at that school too. On May 1st 2014, the 5th anniversary of my accident, I attempted to take my life again but this time it was serious. I woke up on that day knowing that I was going to die, I took a whole heap of pills, got ready for school ignored my mum and snuck out the door to go get the bus. I remember falling asleep on the bus, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I remember nothing after that. But I was told that I got to school and turned extremely aggressive and some girls that saw me knew something was wrong. They took me to the office and then they called the ambulance. These pills made me extremely aggressive, I was throwing and hitting things and I even bit the someone. I have no idea what those pills did to me, but they would’ve killed me if I stayed at home that day. I was sedated and intubated for 24 hours. This was when I learnt I didn’t want to die I just didn’t want to feel like this anymore and only I could change the way I was feeling.
Can you imagine if I did die that day?
People did everything for me to help me, but I needed to want to get better, and that’s where people go wrong. You can only help someone so much until the rest is up to them. They need to WANT to change. And that’s when I knew it was time.
I got away from bad influences in my life, I started doing a nursing course at TAFE whilst living on the Gold Coast with my grandad who had dementia. I was on track to getting better and mine and mums relationship was improving since we weren’t living together. But in this time, I gained a lot of weight from smoking a lot of weed and working at McDonalds again. It wasn’t until someone came into my life who loved the gym and fitness lifestyle. I started going to the gym with them a couple of times a week and I started seeing results. I loved it, and the weight was dropping off. But I fell into an obsession with what I was eating and how much I would train. I went from being overweight to underweight extremely quick.
I lost over 25kgs in under 6 months, it was not healthy at all. Some days I would limit myself to just one piece of vegemite toast a day. This continued for about 6 months and I never had any energy and this effected my studying. I could literally nap up to 3 times a day and would sleep through my classes. I learnt that I’m going to have to start eating if I wanted to keep training the way I was and gain muscle. And I did, I taught myself about macronutrients and started eating more of the right things, the fuel I needed to sustain the energy to get through the day. I started posting my transformations on my social media and got a lot of positive feedback. I’ve been honest from the beginning, I know I lost my weight in the wrong way, but today I am healthy, strong and mentally at peace. I have never felt better.
The lessons I have learnt through my life are that I was grieving, grieving the loss of my foot. I went through the 5 stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I have accepted what has happened to me and I am so strong minded now because of all I have been though, not just my accident but my mental health problems.
Life could throw anything my way now and I will be ready. And the most important lesson I learnt is that only you can help yourself and sometimes you must go through things to be able to come out the other side. But now I want to be able to help others before they get to where I was. I can honestly say gym literally changed my life, it gave me an escape from the world, from life and it was time to focus on me and better myself.
Along the way I met people like my coach Sophie through a photoshoot with a company. Sophie is not only my coach but one of my amazing friends. She has helped me so much, not only physically but mentally too. I am now competing in my first ever fitness competition in October, I am running the Bridge to Brisbane at the end of this month with the FITAZFK crew and I soon will be studying my personal training course. I don’t want to just be a personal trainer in a gym, I want to be more of a life coach to people. I want to be able to help them through their struggles by introducing them into the fitness industry because for me, it changed my life.
I can 100% honestly say, I am happy, I am healthy, I am strong and I want to be alive.
Love, Kelly Rose xx