Sally back on track after appendix op
Sally Brown is intent on making up for lost time. The 18-year-old from Ballykelly has embarked on a new adventure taking her to Loughborough University to become a full-time athlete.
The outgoing teenager realises she is lucky to have the opportunity. Extremely lucky.
Having competed in the Paralympics last year, reaching the final of the T46 100m, Sally was looking forward to big things in 2013 and showing her progression at the World Paralympics Championships.
It never happened because, around the same time as the Great Britain team was being chosen, she had to be rushed to an operating theatre to get her appendix out after it had turned gangrene!
Sally originally thought the excruciating pain she was suffering was down to nothing more than a stomach bug. In the end she had an emergency operation which quite possibly kept the teenager alive.
She recalled: "Training was going really well and I had plans to compete in the World Championships to show everyone that I was a good runner, having not raced as well as I would have liked to at the Paralympics but, unfortunately, I had to get my appendix out in mid-April.
"I was in hospital when the selection took place for the World Championships.
"It was an emergency operation and done very quickly. I woke up one morning with awful pains in my stomach. I was at home all day and the pain just wouldn't go away. Then my mum came home and saw me and said 'I think you are really sick' and took me to hospital.
"Before I knew it I had been rushed in to have an emergency operation in Altnagelvin Hospital. I had the operation that night. It was really sore. I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone.
"They literally just got it. It was a gangrene appendix. I was very lucky to get it out when I did.
"People have been telling me horror stories about different experiences so I do feel fortunate to have got it done so quickly.
"I was in so much pain I didn't care what happened. I just wanted them to get it out so I didn't think about it or have time to get scared.
"I was in hospital for a week. They said the recovery time would be six weeks before I would be running again, but told me not to rush it because I could end up getting ill or picking up an infection.
"It was wise for me to take longer and be fully recovered.
"I decided to take this season easy and get healthy so once winter training started I would be fully fit and ready for it."
Speaking to Sally, who has left arm dysmelia, meaning her left arm did not develop below the elbow from birth, you can tell she has already moved on from what what was a harrowing experience and is relishing her new life in Loughborough, which she believes will enhance her athletics.
She says: "I started training again in June. I've been taking it easy and enjoying it and not having any pressure, which has been nice.
"Training has been going well and now I've moved to Loughborough where I'm becoming a full time athlete. I have a new coach Keith Antoine, he's a sprint coach on the Paralympic team.
"I'm going to College in Loughborough and will try to get my A-Levels as I dropped out last year and didn't finish them.
I guess I'll be a part-time student and full-time athlete."