Junga begins recovery

Queensland cyclist, Renee Junga, has thanked all those who have sent her messages of support and...

Queensland cyclist, Renee Junga, has thanked all those who have sent her messages of support and encouragement as she recovers from spinal surgery in Auckland City Hospital.

"It's really nice to read the messages and it definitely makes me feel a bit better," said Junga from her hospital bed. "The emails have been really supportive and it helps to know so many people out there are thinking about me and wishing me well."

The 20 year old, who won the silver medal at last year's BMX World Championships in France and was the 2005 Australian Female BMX Cyclist of the Year, crashed eight days ago on the 4X (four cross) course while training for the Mountain Bike World Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand.

She broke the C1 and C2 bones in her neck and suffered spinal trauma at the T6 vertebrae. She has also suffered two broken ribs and a fractured sternum. Surgeons operated last Friday to fuse together the bones in her neck and to insert a surgical rod and screws to stabilise her spine.

"My day is pretty much wake up and take a whole heap of medication then the [physiotherapists] come in and stretch out my legs and we work on my breathing," said Junga. "Then it's a case of waiting around."

Yesterday nurses began working with Junga to get her sitting up. "It does hurt my back a little bit where they operated but I've been getting up to around 45 degrees," said Junga. "It's a case of me being comfortable enough in the brace to sit up and they want to get me up further because as soon as I can sit up I'll be close to coming home.

"I'm still being fed via a nasal tube because my throat has been a bit sore but that should come out soon," said Junga who is no longer on a morphine drip but has control of a pump to administer pain killing medication as she needs it. "The pain is now not too bad but it's frustrating being stuck in bed all day," she said. "But that's what comes with a broken back."

Doctors believe it will be at least another two weeks before she can return to Queensland where, initially, she will be admitted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital spinal unit.

"I'm just focussing on getting out of here and back to Brisbane," Junga said.

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