Veteran training to be nurse at Birmingham City University had to give up dream for horrific reason
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A British Army veteran partly blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan will compete in the Invictus games - thanks to her ‘hero’ dog.
Martha Prinsloo, 37, lost her sight in one eye on active deployment in 2013 serving her country as a medic. The veteran from Grantham, Lincolnshire, hit an IED while inside an armoured vehicle.
After surviving the initial blast with some internal injuries, she was left with undiagnosed nerve damage which eventually triggered her loss of vision four years later in 2017.
The damage only revealed itself when she suddenly lost her vision while training to become a Nurse with Birmingham City University - her dream job, which she had to give up.
But thanks to the help and support of her amazing service daschund Daisy, she is now set to take part in this year’s Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany, in September - hosted by the games’ patron, fellow veteran Prince Harry.
She will compete for her country in swimming, archery and powerlifting as part of the ‘lifechanging’ event. Martha, who suffers from CPTSD following the incident, said: “Daisy is quite literally my lifesaver.
“She has been with me through every step of the way. She is my prevention and my cure, alongside the amazing team of medical experts who work with me daily.
“I would not be here without Daisy, she makes my life worth living.”
Daisy is a trained and registered psychological therapy dog, who has provided life-changing support with Martha’s CPTSD since 2018.
She is trained to spot tell-tale signs of anxiety, stress, and night terrors, and comfort Martha through distress.
Daisy wakes Martha up when she is having night terrors, she will ‘talk’ to Martha when she needs support during CPTSD episodes, and stroke her face to ground her when she dissociates from the world in her toughest moments.
With Daisy by her side, Martha now feels confident enough to leave the house and take on new challenges. Despite Martha’s constant nerve pain, she has found the motivation to get back into sport for the first time since leaving the Army.
Martha added: “It’s been fun, helped me form a positive attitude and create friendships and has already been invaluable to my recovery.
“Since sustaining my injuries I’ve severely suffered with my mental health but being part of Team UK has given me some hope and will give me direction and purpose.”
Louise Assioun from the Royal British Legion says the power of sport in recovery is particularly helpful to those who have served in the armed forces who have experienced trauma and injury.
She said: “Sport can improve your mood, increase self-esteem and build confidence - all key skills that someone can apply to their recovery journey outside of the sporting arena.
“For many of Team UK, the simple achievement of doing something they thought they may never do again, whether that is competing in a team sport or just making the start line, when coupled with the physical benefits of sport cannot be underestimated.
“The Armed Forces community are used to working together to meet common goals and when people leave Service, especially when that decision is forced upon them due to injury or illness, the camaraderie is one of the biggest losses.
“Having the opportunity to be part of a team again, representing their country and being around others who are all aiming to be the best they can be within their own recovery journey is what makes Team UK’s journey to the Invictus Games so unique and why the Royal British Legion is proud to support them every step of the way.”
This year’s event will be held in Dusseldorf and Team UK is being led by the Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence.