On Saturday the 24th September, 2005 I commenced a motorcycling weekend away, heading to a place called Gingers Creek on the Oxley Highway, Northern NSW. Unfortunately I didn’t complete the ride to Gingers Creek as I fell off my motorcycle near a town called Dungog in the Upper Hunter Valley.
I do not remember the accident or even a few days before the accident. When my companions went back to find me they called the ambulance service. I was airlifted unconscious to John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, where I was operated on to relieve the pressure in my brain. I was kept in an induced coma for six days. I do not remember coming out of the coma and suffered post traumatic amnesia. Subsequently I was moved out of intensive care to a general ward and then to a rehabilitation ward.
On the day of the accident my partner Ronnie (Veronica) was notified by one of my companions that I was on my way to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. Her friend Shelley drove her from Sydney to Newcastle and provided continuous support. They did not know the seriousness of the injury. I understand that once she arrived at the hospital, she was informed, by the medical staff, that they did not know if I’d be able to talk, walk, write etc after emerging from the coma. I presume that for most brain injuries, including mine, it is the people with the closest relationship with the injured that are confronted with making decisions, under pressure, on the future well-being of the injured.
Emerging from the coma I was able talk but needed speech pathology assistance and I apparently needed to relearn to walk. I did not recognise that I had short-term memory issues, which continue to this day. I had to be repeatedly informed of the accident and oddly I didn’t seem to be concerned about the damage to the motorcycle, something that is usually an urgent issue to a vehicle owner after an accident. The motorcycle was a write-off.
I am unsure of the time that I was at the hospital in Newcastle but once a bed was available they organised for me to be transferred to the Brain Injury Unit at Royal Rehab in Ryde. I recognise that I wasn’t a co-operative patient and had trouble understanding why I was directed to undertake certain activities. The speech pathology and physiotherapy sessions were quite tiring and I didn’t appreciate how important these sessions were to integrating me back into my old lifestyle. After leaving the facility I continued to receive support from the Community Rehabilitation Team and had regular reviews with Dr Clayton King and Dr Stuart Browne. I am currently attending the Brain Injury Social Group once a month. I still have difficulty with tiredness, fatigue and memory and therefore am unable to continue with my career.
On 26th June 2009, three years and nine months after my accident, I had two seizures in the early morning and was taken by ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital. I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Apparently it is not uncommon to develop epilepsy after a brain injury. I had noted on many occasions after the injury that I had dizzy spells and didn’t realize that they were precursors to the seizures. Fortunately the epilepsy is controlled with medication but it does impact on my concentration. Concentrating on important matters can be very tiring and can lead to me making poor decisions.
I would like to thank my partner (Ronnie) and all the staff and medical professionals who have helped me get to a place where I can attend to most activities in my life.