I was never really a focused student; school was more about having fun with my mates than learning. Consequently, I was always getting in and out of trouble which was something that I did really well. I wasn’t anti-establishment but didn’t like the discipline and the rules that were part of school.
Marijuana, alcohol and cigarretes became part of my life from the age of 14. I didn’t have focus or a goal when finishing school and, whilst I was free at last, I was a bit lost in the big wide world.
I brought my third and best car when I was 19; a Ford Falcon. I drove as if I was invincible on many occasions and managed to lose my Licence twice, but never stopped driving. Not being receptive to good advice, nor having a willingness to listen to my family, was an integral ingredient in my accident.
Thinking you're invincible and developing bad habits is not a good combination. Being drunk and drugged up and driving a car at high speed is not a good combination, either.
The trip was only about 3 km, and fuelled with drugs and alcohol, my destiny and life journey was about to change forever. My car was not registered and my licence was still suspended from a previous drink driving offence. No inhibitions, no seat belt on,120km/hr in a 70km/hr zone, a slight curve in the road and an oversteering correction sent me off the road and head on driver's side into a power pole.
I was rushed to the operating theatre and the surgeons operated. They cut my skull, drained the blood and fluid from my swelling brain, inserted a release drain and stapled me back up. That's all they could do. A few broken bones were detected and managed, my face was black and blue, but this was insignificant as my brain, my will and my soul was now in for the fight of its life.
Intensive care is a place where you either live or die. It is a place of 24 hour care where tubes and gadgets are placed in every part of you as a support to your life. You eat and breath via a machine, but are cared for by the most amazing people. My life support systems showed I was on death's door a number of times, but I would not go, and it was the grace of God and the love of my family that got me through.
After 2 weeks in Intensive care there was great hope as my brain had stopped swelling and the bleeding was only a trickle. While I was still in a coma, my father brought in a Hawthorn Football club bottle opener that played the Hawk's theme song. He played it, my eyes flickered, my head moved from side to side, and my fingers tapped to the beat of the Hawk's song. My passion for music and the mighty Hawks delivered me out of my coma and into the world; a world of as-yet unknown challenges to recovery. Who would I be when I got better?
I awoke to a world where I didn’t know anybody or anything. I had no memory and little body function. I was like a baby bird; inquisitive at my surroundings but scared that I might fall out of the nest; a nest that I had never seen before.
In rehab at the GC Hospital I really just recovered, learnt to eat, and go to the toilet. I hoped to get a little memory back, if possible.I had to learn my own name, my address, my family, the time of day, my left my right. I had to learn to speak again. I had to learn how to communicate. It was hard and I just wanted to get out of that place. Nothing seemed real and I didn’t know why I was there. I just couldn't comprehend my situation.
When I came home from the Gold Coast hospital 9 weeks after the crash and my father was pulling into the driveway, the first question I asked was, "Dad, have we moved house?"
He told me, "We have been living here for 5 years."
It was then that I tried to recall just 1 event in my life... it was blank and I then realised I had no recollection of my whole life. It was really scary. I realised that I had to relearn everything from scratch.
I had to relearn EVERYTHING from scratch.