My name is Steve and on Sunday April 9th 2006, I had a serious car accident on the Old Pacific Highway—my mini vs a tree. After being cut out of my car, I was airlifted to Westmead Hospital with a severely damaged left arm, a broken right wrist and ankle but most serious was the traumatic brain injury. At the accident site I had a GCS of 6/15. I spent ten days in a drug-induced coma, a total of three weeks in intensive care and then another two weeks in the neurological ward. On the 11th May 2006 (my birthday) I was moved to Royal Rehab, where I stayed until September 2006.
In my first few weeks at Royal Rehab I was in a wheelchair due to my broken bones—it was great when I got to ‘escape’ from it permanently. I suffered from Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) for 14 weeks—I couldn’t make a cup of coffee, butter a piece of toast, find my way to and from a rehab session and the smallest noise distracted me. The team at Royal Rehab and my family supported me and encouraged me to never give up, never accepted the ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘it’s too hard’ excuses and helped me discover that I could do things that I didn’t believe I could. Without all these peoples’ guidance and support, I couldn’t possibly have extended myself as far as I have.
After returning home in September 2006 I focused on returning to my pre-accident role with the organization that had been my employer since 1995 and while the company were very supportive, the impact of my brain injury meant that I wasn’t able to return to full-time employment.
Late in 2008 I was getting despondent as I wasn’t able to find a job and my social network had diminished significantly. Around this time my wife asked me what it was that made me happy and therefore what type of job I would really like—I responded by saying “I wanted a role that will give me a sense of well-being, where I could be part of a team and that was related to one of my passions—coffee, music and animals”. I enrolled in a TAFE Companion Animal Studies course and I now volunteer on a regular basis at Monika’s Doggie Rescue (doggierescue.com.au). I get a lot out of my volunteer-role and love spending time with my four and two-legged friends there.
I also re-discovered my passion for fitness and sporting activities around this time. I did a ‘learn to row’ course and took up rowing at a competitive level in early 2011, as a Para-rower. Rowing has given me experiences that I would never have had if I didn’t have the accident and has given me a whole new group of friends and contacts. As part of my training I go to the gym regularly and I’ve found that being active, being around positive and healthy people helps me be positive and happy. More recently I have gotten involved in para-cycling and even did a para-triathlon earlier this year.