August 30th 2014

 I don't remember much of that day, in fact I don't really remember any of it at all. I know I woke up and had my regular Saturday morning coffee and cake from the local deli. I then went down to Pedler reserve to watch my footy team play their prelim final.  I wasn't playing as I had shoulder reconstructive surgery booked in for the following Thursday. To my disappointment the club lost the final that day and we had organised to go out to celebrate the end of the season. Little did I know the events of this night would change my life forever and things would never be the same.

My friends who were with me that night have filled me in on the events that took place. We had only been out for about an hour when I fell. Only one of my friends witnessed the fall and was the only one around when I was on the ground. I was unconscious at this time and by that stage a few of my other mates had made there way to where I was, they secured the area  while the ambulance arrived only minutes after my fall. It took the paramedics 45 minutes to stabilise me and get my onto the stretcher. I know this as the paramedic who arrived first on the scene came to see me in hospital a week after the fall, she explained to me that they were very worried about my condition. They took me to The Royal Adelaide Hospital where they notified my parents and girlfriend of the accident. 

I vaguely remember a surgeon holding an iPad in front of me asking for my consent for a surgery they had to perform.  The first vivid memory I have post injury is in the Royal Adelaide Hospital where I woke up 2 days after. I wasn't able to move my arms or my legs and felt as though my whole body had been paralysed from my neck down, I felt as though I was trapped! My parents and girlfriend had flown up to Adelaide and were by my bedside the whole 10 days. I was dazed and groggy for most of that time and still was yet to be told what was going on. The surgery they performed was to stabilise my spinal fractures and prevent further damage. They had fused my C4 to C6 veterbrae and had inserted a cage around the fractures, at this time they also notified me that I had also fractured my sternum and cracked my C2 vertebrae, but that fracture did not need stabolising. 

I was airlifted 10 days post injury to the Austin Hospital where things were still unclear, it was there where I learnt that things weren't going to get better any time soon. I was told how slow my journey of recovery would be, if any at all. The main thing for me was to stay positive and never give up hope.

March 2nd 2015

Six months on, looking back on the independence and freedom I had and how simple life was and comparing it to my life now, its the complete opposite. I am now re-evaluating and adjusting my life ambitions. I have learnt how to do a lot of things for myself, but there are always little tasks I need assistance with and always will need. I have learnt to feed myself with the help of hand splints, brush my own teeth, wheel my own manual wheelchair, transfer with a sideboard in and out of bed, transfer into a car, assist in dressing myself and am now training on a hand cycle to complete the last 5km of the oxfam walk.

Being close to the end of my rehab program at the royal Talbot, I am improving each day and am working on the things that I still can't do independently.  I am still adjusting to life now and each day I make small improvements.

The next step for me is surgery, on the 14th of April I am booked in to have a triple nerve transfer surgery, which will graft live working nerves and plug them into nerves that no longer work to reactivate the muscles. This will hopefully over a period of time give me some tricep function and open and close my hands in order to pick up and grasp things. It is quite a large surgery and can take up to 2 years to see results, as I have learnt from this injury patience is everything!

Joel. 

 

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