Summer with Gemma Lee- Part 1: The surfing accident that changed everything

Summer with Gemma Lee- Part 1: The surfing accident that changed everything

Part 1: The surfing accident that changed everything 

Like many of you, I live for the summer. Planning away what it will look like months in advance! The waves I wanted to chase, the new coastal towns I wanted to discover, the roads I wanted to take, and the spots I wanted to camp out at, to fall asleep under a million shining stars. And of course the planner that I am, come September 2021, my Summer was ready to go. 

But as some of you may have seen through social media, my original expectations of Summer 21/22 changed very quickly, after an unfortunate surfing incident at the end of October last year, that resulted in a concussion. One that would rock my world, and truly test me on a whole new level. 


So here is part 1 of my story of how my Summer actually turned out! As many of you know, I live in windy Wellington- a nickname the city has been given for being one of the windiest cities in the world! Being so used to such windy conditions all the time, I don’t usually let it stop me from doing what I love! 


On this particular day, it was a typical windy Wellington day, but it was the weekend and the squad was heading out to catch some waves- and I am not one to turn that down haha. So out we went! But unfortunately this time round the wind got the better of me, and as I had come off a wave and came to resurface, what I didn’t prepare for was that the wind had picked up my board, whipped it into the air and with a gust had it full force at my head. I immediately knew I wasn’t okay and my beautiful friends followed me out of the water. 


Never was I really prepared for what this would mean for me, and the new challenges ahead for me. My greatest fear was that I had concussed myself, a fear that was very real for me, as I had just journeyed the past 12months with a close friend who had gone through this journey, and I knew it was tough! But it’s not until you experience it for yourself that you would never wish it upon anyone.  As the next week or 2 passed, as my brain settled from the knock, and as I tried to trudge through, it became very clear that I was not okay.

I struggled to walk for more than 20minutes without the world spinning and me grabbing something to hold, my head was constantly sore, I was so exhausted I had no energy to cook myself a decent dinner (let’s just say my low point was when I could only muster together rice and cold baked beans eeeek- at that moment I knew I was not okay haha), and everything in life was so overwhelming it would have me breaking down in tears every 5 minutes. My flatmate turned to me one day, and said “Gemma, you look seriously unwell”. The next day I went to get checked again, and that was the beginning of my journey to recovering from a diagnosed concussion. 



Over the years I’ve gone through many sporting injuries, and I’m sure as many of you can agree, they are so frustrating! But getting a brain injury, a bruise to my brain, was a whole other ball game for me! When you injure a limb, you have to rest it, before slowly reintroducing it back to what it once did. So the same goes for your brain, when injured, it first needs to rest. But what does resting a brain look like? Concussions are one of those things that can’t just be pushed through in the hope it will go away. Trying to do that, only makes your symptoms worse and prolongs recovery.  


When you get concussed your brain doesn’t know what information is important to take in or what is not, so it tries to process everything, which in itself is so overwhelming. Suddenly something as simple as going out to a supermarket is exhausting and overwhelming, as your brain struggles to process so much information all at once- the bright lights, the music, people walking in any direction- things that you once would never even take much notice of. Similar to hanging out with friends, suddenly maintaining a conversation, listening to what is being said and responding is a tiresome and challenging task, and sometimes you can’t quite remember all that has been said.

So resting my brain meant a couple of months at home, napping up to 3 times a day to get through the day, managing headaches everyday, limited screen time (that is an exhausting visual process), and learning to be okay with not achieving all that much with my days. I was so grateful for my many incredible friends and family who encouraged me, supported me and made sure I was fed! For them I feel so so blessed!




As you can imagine though I was pretty devastated as for what this probably meant for my Summer! And at the back of my mind what it would mean for my small lil business, Gemma Lee, and the plans and dreams I had for it for Summer 21/22. Most of the time being the sole worker at Gemma Lee, managing everything from customer service, dispatch, production management, social media and events, for me to be out of action in such a debilitating way was nerve wracking, as to what that meant for Gemma Lee. But I did my best with the limited capacity I had to keep the dream alive! I am so grateful for the friends who circled around me and packed orders for me, as I sat there trying to remember if I had done the simple tasks as sticking a hygienic label onto a swimsuit- I had to double check everything I did. Let’s just say I couldn’t muilt-task anymore!


So I had to let the Summer of Gemma Lee be what it was going to be, and hope that it would run itself as best as possible. I’ve never said this before, but honestly I am so grateful for all you beautiful ladies who supported my business over the Summer- it really meant so much more than you could ever imagine. You kept the dream alive. You are the heart of Gemma Lee x