It's the one thing which remains constant during my 14 years of hospital stays: everyone just wants to go home.

I had planned for a worst-case scenario this time around while hoping for the best. But even I could not have predicted how well this surgery would go.

Within four days I was walking unaided and also did four flights of stairs during my physio session. 

When you combine this with being able to wash yourself, it means you are ready to go home.

The only hurdle left was some paperwork, then I would be ready. 

To be honest, this hospital stay has hit me more mentally than physically. The only thing I feel is cold hands and a sore neck.

I cleaned up my small space and knew my name would be wiped from the board soon enough and I would be replaced by someone else with their own story and a journey which has taken them to bay four, bed 12.

After a life in sport, it is difficult to process that my identity had been stripped to this station. It’s a humbling process and it leaves you pondering some very deep thoughts. 

But it also provides perspective, and that’s no bad thing. 

I guess it is why I would never change what I have learned during these surgeries – but I would also have given anything to not have had to go through the suffering to learn these lessons. 

I listened to music as I sat waiting for my partner and friend to collect me. I wanted to be fully present in the moment to reflect on what I had experienced. It felt great to be out of my hospital gown and sitting with my small bag. It reminded me of a famous interview when Bob Marley was asked if he was a rich man, to which he replied in typical Marley style: “Possession make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.”

That’s how I felt sitting there in my hospital bed. I had life, nothing else mattered in this moment. I was alive, I didn’t want more stuff – just more time. However, the notion of more time is also a very interesting concept. 

READ MORE: How a fellow patient’s plight reminded me to work on my own healing

If you wake each day and do exactly the same thing every day you could argue that you only live one day. Compare this to living a life full of experiences.

You could say someone who measures their life on experiences lives a thousand lifetimes. The latter gives me a level of solace that my time may be limited but I live a life rich in experiences. 

As I got into a wheelchair to get pushed to the car, I knew I wasn’t leaving here for my last time, but I still felt blessed to be leaving with very little side effects of this surgery.

Feeling fresh air for the first time is always a very emotional moment.

It feels like every sense in your body is dialled up 10 times. I am going home.

The drive home was strange. I had just left a place where everyone was smiling to put one another at ease to a place where everyone was rushing, shopping and looked like they were only smiling after purchasing stuff in the shops. 

It always takes time to adjust back into the world after leaving neurosurgery. There are many bonuses of getting home and without doubt sleep is my favourite, and I needed lots of it after a week of having very little. However, eager to get back into living and finding new experiences, I found myself walking over 1km in Hyde Park after only one day at home. Before the week ended, I was back on a bike.

Although my body is still exhausted, I am managing to live.

I knew I was struggling mentally though and after days of crying I knew I needed support.

I feel very blessed I can pick up the phone to Dr Steve Peters, and after just 30 minutes with Steve I felt a complete shift mentally.

His wisdom helps me understand everything around surgery seven, death and living.

As I navigate this recovery, I have set myself a list of goals which I have called “12 in 2024”. These are a dozen experiences that will not just impact my life but others that will take me out of my comfort zone.

This was part inspired by Benjamin Zephaniah, the British writer who passed this week eight weeks after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. 

I feel inspired by lots of Benjamin’s work and how he changed the lives of so many, but most importantly he lived a life of adventure, travel and a hunger for learning. With this inspiration of another window of life, I aim to live every second with intent.

With my first goal of cycling post-surgery already achieved, the next one to check of the list is to get back on skis