Connector September 2023

CONNECTOR.AE 62 CONNECTOR.AE 63 Lifestyle Lifestyle Caroline Leon: Scaling The Seven Volcanic Summits In The World Many people experience various hardships in life and each lesson teaches ways to come out of it stronger. For some, these challenges come in the form of setbacks in life from career changes, mental health issues or losing a loved one. For Caroline Leon, an Australian resident in Dubai, one of the biggest challenges was when doctors told her that there was a possibility, after an accident, that she could never walk again. Deciding to take control and turn it into a positive, Caroline Leon went on to climb the seven volcanic summits across the world in Asia, South America, Africa, Europe, North America, Oceania and Antarctica. As an avid climber, Caroline Leon was on an outdoor rock climbing trial in Jebel Ali in 2015, where she got into an accident that left her with a bilateral calcaneal fracture in which the heels on her left foot were shattered, a talus fracture that is the break in the ankle bone, leg was disconnected, pelvis fracture, and a burst fracture in part of her spine, where the primary bone of the spine breaks in multiple directions. Caroline Leon said, “At the very beginning, when I came into hospital, they had told my husband that there was a very big possibility that I was never going to walk again.” After the accident, Caroline Leon spent two months at the hospital, and ended up having to undergo 14 surgeries and 23 blood transfusions. The recovery process was a long one, and over the first year, after being discharged from the hospital, she spent most of her time in a hospital bed set up at home, in a wheelchair and on crutches. Caroline Leon said, “It was so long, there were very different parts of it. So in the beginning, I was in the hospital for two months, and then I went to the hospital several other times for much smaller stints. One of them was two weeks. I think there was another time that was a week just to have follow-up surgeries, and then from there, it was very slow. So in the first year, I was in a mix of being in a hospital bed at home, to being in a wheelchair, to being on crutches. And then the third year to the fourth year, I was on crutches, no longer in a wheelchair, but really limited with the ability of how I could walk. I could only walk maybe about 10 or 15 metres, and then 100 metres. So over the course of four years, it really changed quite drastically.” Despite the difficult recovery period of over four years, that took a toll on her physically and emotionally, Caroline Leon stayed strong, and in 2019 decided she wanted to take matters into her own hands and make a difference in her life. While having conversations with her psychiatrist, she wanted to change the way she perceived herself saying, “In early 2019, I had spent a lot of time doing a lot of mental health kind of conversations with a psychiatrist. And at the time, I was very stuck in this phase in my life where I was considering myself someone who had a disability. I was not partaking in parts of everyday life because I had this identity that I was now, a disabled person. I remember speaking with a psychiatrist and she was telling me that it was not really a