June 28th, 1989 my family, which consists of Mum (Barbara), Dad (Eddie), my Sister (Lauren) and I, were holidaying up in Queensland (remember that at the time we are living in Newcastle). I was just about to turn 3, my sister turning 6 in December. Dad was driving, Mum was in front passenger and Lauren and I were in the backseat. I was sitting in one of those toddler baby seats, with the proper over the shoulder, between the legs, click in the middle kind of seat belts. Being the age that I was I can't really remember that much of the day. What I can remember though is being somewhere with a hive (the Super Bee - hinesight a beautiful thing) and was on the way to the Big Pineapple. We never made it (and thinking about it now, I don't think I've ever been there either, not that I can remember anyway). Somewhere along the way we were involved in a head on car accident with another vehicle. I have been told stories of what caused the accident over my lifetime and pretty much they're all rolled into one blurry mess. But to me personally, it doesn't matter who was at fault and what caused what to happen. It happend. I don't blame anyone and I am not holding any kind of grudge. I was young, a little toddler, I still had my entire life ahead of me to choose the paths that I wanted to take. Its not like when some professional ballet dancer or whatever gets hurt and has to end their dancing career (like in Benjamin Button). I was a bubbly little girl, and bounced back pretty well. I lived with what happend to me. Adapted. And if you know me today, then you know I live a pretty satisfying life.
(In a toddler car seat. Honestly can't tell you if this was taken before or afterwards. It looks like afterwards, as in to show people what I was in in the accident.)
Anyway! Back to the accident. So we hit this other vehicle. I dont think the other driver involved got majorly hurt. I could be wrong, I just haven't heard anything. My father broke alot of bones and had to have operations to have all sorts of screws and plates to get fixed up. This later turned into athritis in his legs. My mother broke her arm but also got alot of internal things squished and woke up several days later attached to a ventilator. A very scary thing to happen to someone who is a nurse herself and able to understand all the medical talk around the hospital bed. Lauren got whiplash, but was awake through the entire experience, so for a 5 and a half year old, the entire experience must have been very traumatic. Me? Well I broke my spinal cord at the t8 section. Complete break too (no fibres hanging on like in some incomplete Paraplegics). Now apart from being carried into another car (hinesight says ambulance), being given a tissue for a blood nose and then later on being asked if i could wigggle my toes (answer - no), that is pretty much all I can remember from the accident.
So thats my version of the accident. What your about to read is from a notebook I was given a few years ago. Its my mothers diary that she wrote after the accident. Its quite long so Im not going to sit here and type the entire thing. Just a little bit. To get an adults side of the story (instead of a young adults childhood memory side of the story).
28th June 1989 and onwards
"Can't remember exactly which day I woke up but I thought I was having a dream about being in hospital. Was ventilated. Couldn't talk or move. I was told by John that we had been in a car accident."
"Much improved. Still in Nambour ICU. Seen by Lauren and Clare's doctor who was concerned about Clares inability to move! To be transferred to Brisbane with the girls so that Clare can have a special scan of her spine at PA. Haematoma? Swelling? Crushed spine? Or worse still, the spine itself is damaged?"
(later that day)
"Transferred to RBH. Clare to Royal Childrens Hospital. Lauren not admitted. Saw Eddie for first time since accident - he cant remember much either"
"Have at least 67 stitches in abdomen and chest continuous. Drain site very painful. Clare to go to PA for special scan of spine under GA (general anaestetic). Very concerned about outcome."
(later that day)
"Doctor informed us of tragic result about 8pm. Very distressed. Eddie and I cried together for several hours. Why us? Why Clare? Why our beautiful little girl who had done nothing wrong? We cant accept it. Visited by minister of religion who said prayers with us for Clare. We both needed sedation this night and several others after."
"Visited Clare in Patterson Ward. Cried all over her head. Don't think I can cope. Will never quite believe all of this. Can't even cuddle her - broken arm makes it impossible."
(Playing with my Play Doh in hospital. Making the most out of a bad situation. Always smilin')
"Clare said 'mummy I can't stand up!' several times. Feel so useless."
"Clare screaming through physio sessions. She is so frustrated. I feel like crying with her. Can't take much more of this."
"Clare more confident in wheelchair but hates baths and being moved."
"Everything has finally hit me as real. It's no a dream any more. My little girl is really crippled for life and her future has been wrecked. My family really was almost written off (as was my new car). We still haven't had our long awaited holiday."
"More forms to complete for Clare. Dread the thought of managing with her for the rest of our lives."
"Clare cranky with her legs not doing what she wanted them to"
(In some medical thingmebob. I look so small. Lucky I got the toy for comfort)
"It is so sad watching Clare attempting to move. Even sitting up to concentrate on play is so hard for her. She can't support herself. I feel depressed and so sorry for her. All the 1 year olds in her ward are walking or starting to. She never will again. Clare very tired. Lauren becoming difficult to handle - shes bored with the whole affair."
"Clare much better in physio. Went for a 'walk' in parapodium outside and waved to a helicopter and aeroplane."
"Happy 3rd birthday to our little angel on wheels! Clare's party in the ward, bed covered with balloons and presents."
(My 3rd birthday in hospital, still smiling!)
That will do. It goes on and on..
I think that the main thing I wan't to get across to people is that it might seem all doom and gloom right after someone is involved in an accident, but you have to think of the future. You live through the now part, must don't write off the future. Like I keep saying, I love my life, I wouldn't change it for the world. So if your reading this, and have either been recently been involved in a life changing accident or your a parent of a child who has. Don't write off life. There is a future for you or your child :)
Anyway, thats one major section of my life under wrap. I have to get ready for the Western Stars end of 2008 / start of 2009 shin dig. Made a berry cheesecake.. yum!
Stay tuned for part 3 :)