The Grind to Recovery Part 1.5: How Skateboarder Cody French Has Overcome Struggles With Physical and Mental Health

·5 min read

Continuing where we left off after the first Grind to Recovery installment, Cody French has made unbelievable progress towards his physical and mental health. That being said, there are still many obstacles for Cody to overcome before he is able to make a full recovery and return to the elite level of skateboarding he is capable of.

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This installment is going to focus on the year 2021, particularly Cody’s most recent health complications. At the beginning of the month of March, Cody began to experience stomach pains unrelated to his skateboarding career. The discomfort led to physical symptoms – throwing up blood and excruciating pain, which ultimately led Cody to check himself into Groves Memorial Hospital. Right away the doctors knew something was seriously wrong, however, this would just be the starting point for a long road to recovery.

The doctors at Groves Memorial Hospital ran every test possible. After nearly a month and a half in and out of the hospital, Cody had lost nearly 55 pounds and was unable to eat for the first 14 days of his stay. The hospital had difficulties in finding the reason for Cody’s bleeding and were unable to provide a proper diagnosis. Rather than continue to search for the root of the problem, Cody was prescribed over 20 different medications that came with a cost of over $400 per week.

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The medication proved to be another obstacle in Cody’s grind to recovery. Not only were the expenses taxing on Cody, the mix of medications led to complications of their own. Falling into a depressive state as Cody was unable to remain physically active and was subject to bedrest, the doctors had further prescribed a mix of anti-depressants. These pills came with a barrage of side effects including constant sweating, muscle aches, inability to sleep, and even when Cody could finally rest, he was subject to vivid nightmares. These side effects left Cody feeling defeated and on multiple occasions suicidal ideations filled his mind as there was no clear path as to if he would ever recover.

After nearly a month of treatment at Groves Memorial Hospital, the underlying cause of Cody’s complications had still yet to be discovered. Cody became restless and demanded a transfer to a new hospital in hopes that a new team of medical staff could properly diagnose him and put him on a proper path to recovery. Cody was eventually transferred to Guelph, then further to McMaster in Hamilton, where a specialist ultimately referred him to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. At Sunnybrook, Cody would take an endoscopy, in which he had to swallow a camera to investigate the root of the problem and find the source of his internal bleeding. Another two weeks would pass before Cody was finally presented with results that would change his life forever; the specialists had discovered that Cody had 8 bleeding ulcers with no apparent cause.

This news shocked Cody as his condition was very rare for his age. The most probable cause of Cody’s ulcers was the vast amount of stress he had been subject to in his career as a professional skateboarder. Although stress ulcers are uncommon, Cody lived an uncommon lifestyle. There are direct links to physical stress causing such complications particularly when the stress is linked to serious long-term illnesses, surgical procedures, and trauma that occurs in the brain and body; all of which Cody was perpetually subject to throughout his career.

Furthermore, outside of his career as a skateboarder a variety of other stressors became increasingly difficult for Cody to manage. Cody was in a long-term relationship at the beginning of his hospital stay which would not last the duration of his recovery. As Cody was fighting for his life in and out of the hospital, a variety of rumors and false allegations surrounding his relationship left him on his own. This situation was further amplified by scrutiny on social media and the continued stress led to worsening symptoms and additional complications Cody was not prepared for. Ultimately, the increased stress led to more bleeding and additional barriers to recovery.

Cody was not only left on his own by his significant other, many of his friends and even family became more distant as time went on. Cody was subject to a large number of setbacks; not being able to travel, unable to participate in skateboarding competitions, and perhaps most notable - his shot at the 2021 Olympics was taken away from him. At a time where support was most needed, Cody had to learn how to overcome these complications on his own; a challenge that proved to be greater than any skateboarding competition or past accomplishment.

At this current date, Cody is still awaiting to find out the results of what caused his internal bleeding. Cody still has frequent hospital and doctor visits awaiting the next procedure, in which he is hopeful that these severe complications can finally become a thing of the past. Although it is unlikely he will make a full recovery to the state he was in before, Cody continues to work on ways to improve his current situation. In the meantime, Cody is slowly getting back into skateboarding, working out to improve his physical health, and surrounding himself with positive influences to help overcome his struggles with mental health.

Cody’s story shares the personal side of life that is not glorified in the world of professional spots. Many individuals awe at the accomplishments of their favourite athletes, but seldom do individuals take notice of the sacrifice and hardship that accompanies such a lifestyle. Cody intends on sharing his full grind to recovery in order to help highlight the side of sports that many athletes experience, however, are too fearful to share with the world. His goal is to encourage others to seek the help they need, and further to inspire everyone to never give up on their dreams.

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