Wheelchair-bound former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns says he is “very lucky to be alive”, three months after a medical emergency left him on life support.
The 51-year-old is currently recovering from a spinal stroke that left him paralysed waist down, following several complicated surgeries.
“We don’t know what happens going forward. I don’t know if I’ll walk, I don’t know if I’ll stand. But I may stand. I may walk. The only option is to keep going. The thing is I’m not even just lucky to be (alive). I’m very lucky,” Cairns was quoted as saying by Canberra Times.
As he opened up on his life post the scare, Cairns was flanked by his wife Melanie.
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Son of Lance Cairns, who was also an all-rounder for the New Zealand team in the 1970s and 80s, Cairns junior had suffered a major medical emergency — an aortic dissection — in August and was transferred to a specialist hospital in Sydney, where he had undergone a life-saving emergency heart surgery before facing more complications in the wake of the spinal stroke.
Aortic dissection is a serious medical condition in which a tear happens in the inner layer of the body’s main artery (aorta).
He has been cleared to start “using his chest and arms for the first time in three months as he continues his recovery”.
“The amazing thing going through this is just the perseverance to keep going in case it comes back. You’ve got to be prepared,” Cairns said.
One of the best all-rounders of his time, Cairns played 62 Tests, 215 ODIs and two T20Is for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006.
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His wife Melanie said, “Chris didn’t just have a stroke one day and (was gone), he had two weeks of being so close to (death). So we start from a place of gratefulness, and every bit we get back after that is just an extra.
“He’s here, he’s still him. Yes there are physically challenges, but in the gym he said (to the staff) you show me the bar and I’m going to smash it down.”
“He’s super motivated to get back out on the tennis court with our daughter, whether that’s running around or in a wheelchair. He’s still going to try to beat her, that’s who he is. That motivation puts him in a really good place to try to tackle something like this.”
Speaking about New Zealand’s chances in the T20 World Cup final against Australia, Cairns said the country’s cricket “is very, very healthy”.
“I played with (New Zealand coach) Gary Stead in Canterbury for a decade. He’s one of the unsung heroes. The last two years I mean, you know, New Zealand cricket is very, very healthy.”