Before my accident I was not a Christian.
I lived as a biker, working as a technician for telecom. I was reasonably strong from weight training at the gym and had trained in martial arts for a while, so I felt pretty secure due to my rough appearance & physical abilities backed up by a quick mind. I learnt to play different musical instruments easily but I disliked having to go through boring tedious lessons - I preferred to work it out myself. I was a trained singer (2nd bass/baritone), but I was ignoring my talents & never appreciated my abilities - until I didn't have them.
At the time of my accident I was singing & blowing harp (badly) with my friend Pete who played guitar, sometimes at a pub in the city or more often to whoever was willing to listen.
I rode my motorcycle everywhere.
I had had several accidents with cars, but in each one - scrapes & broken bones healed, my bike was fixed or I got a new one and life went on. I always thought if a really bad accident happened, I would just die and that would be it.
I didn't believe in God or an afterlife.
On a sunny afternoon 24th Nov '84 I was riding back from looking at land in Kinglake, with my girlfriend. I was on the main road just on the Melbourne side of Whittlesea. As I approached one of several cross intersections, I met a cortina driven by a 19 year old kid. He was travelling home from a local cricket match with friends, having a beer. The witness following him said he was doing over 100k but slowed as he approached the intersection - to about 70kph. I was in front of several cars & we were doing about 100k.
For some reason he didn't stop.
The cars on the highway approaching me saw he was not going to stop and some ran off the road to avoid collision. Unfortunately, I had a line of trees blocking my view..
I am told his car spun 1.1/2 times.
My harley was totalled. I landed 17 meters away.
Tina went further & straight into a fence straining post. She was killed instantly. Fortunately for me a local doctor was listening on his 2way and came & cared for me until the first ambulance arrived. I was revived & taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Austin Hospital. My wallet was missing assumed stolen but the police soon found out who I was however, Tina's identity remained a mystery because her bag was also missing. A letter was found in Tina's pocket from a friend named Henk we had visited that morning at Austin Hospital. The police paid him a visit to fill in the gaps.
That night my heart that was so bruised and tired started to arrest. At this time the doctors came out and asked my family If they would like to have a priest nearby. My father declined, by this time my entire immediate family was collected outside intensive care. My sister & brother-inlaw led my family in prayer for me. I understand everyone prayed for me even though my sister & her husband were the only Christians, at that time. My father signed for the doctors to use a heart drug that was still being tested. They said it's a 50/50 chance if it would help - it did & I made it through the first night.
- I was in a coma & was respirator dependent.
I had a front left hemisphere brain haemorrhage, my rib put through my left lung, had aspirated my stomach contents into my right lung, broken clavicle, crushed elbow, split liver, ruptured spleen, crushed right ankle and assorted injuries.
On the second day in the operating theatre, the anaethetist when moving my head heard a "click". He said "hold everything". More xrays were quickly taken & they then discovered I also had a C1 spinal fracture. (Level C1 is right at the top of the cervical spine, up there, there is brain stem - not spinal cord. Its called a hangman's fracture).
I remained in a coma for approximately 2 months.
After the first two weeks of no change they moved me from I.C.U. into a room on my own in the Neurosurgery Ward. After 7 weeks I began to wake. For my first day I was awake for about a minute.
The next day was 1 or 2 min's, once or twice, it was very slow; - not at all like in the movies. I was being fed thru a tube in my stomach, was breathing thru a tube in my neck; I was on a drip and my urine was collecting in a bag on the side of the bed. My short term memory was a real problem, I couldn't talk because my voice box was paralysed and I had difficulty seeing things because my eyes were knocked crooked so I saw everything as double, which added to my confusion. I was in a special bed for comatose or spinal patients that would help me not get pressure sores - provided I was turned every few hours. I had what resembled a large metal clamp with 2 screws screwed into my skull that led to a pulley with weights - to keep my spine in traction.
I could open my mouth & blink but that's about it. Fortunately the only pain I could feel was in my skull - which was all I could feel.
By about mid feb '85, I was awake for a couple of hours at a time during the day. It was unreal to learn that christmas was over, and I hadn't even been looking forward to it. The game "Trivial Pursuit" had been launched and was now well known by everyone It seemed. My room was right next to the nurses station and sometimes if I was awake, the night nurses would include me In on a game - until I got tired and went to sleep. (about 2 questions)
One of my vocal cords was partially working so now I could communicate. I kept asking "where is Tina?". I kept getting the reply that Tina was OK and she wasn't involved in the accident. My bad memory had me asking the same question for some time. I must have been "getting to" some of the nurses, because when I asked one of my nurses who I'm sure I had asked this question of before, she just walked out with tears in her eyes.
Shortly after a doctor walked in and said to me "what do you know about the accident"?. I said "a car ran me over, it wasn't My fault and that's it". He said "what do you know about Tina"? I said "oh, its ok she wasn't involved".
He said "she was, and she's dead, got it "? - and walked out.
I was left mouthing "dead"?
Even though this was certainly something you wouldn't forget; I did a few times, but remembered immediately after mum or whoever was there gently reminded me. - Each time I was reminded the emotional pain was just like I had been told for the first time.
I went down hill for a couple of weeks after this news, I just wanted to die. Shortly after Tina's death had sunk in, I overheard one of my chief doctors speaking outside my room to a que of interns. While nurses went in and out, it wasn't very easy to get the whole conversation but at least I could hear some bits.
No one thus far had told me anything about my physical condition.
I remember the head dude taking turns in observing one intern at a time coming in to my room and doing a full neurological examination on me, which involved him sticking me with pins all over - and asking if I could feel it. Later I was to learn from Dr O'brien (my orthopaedic surgeon), that I was the 13th in the world in medical history to have experienced a C1 spinal fracture like I had, causing quadriplegia - and lived. (Obviously if my fracture was complete, to live would be impossible because my brain stem would have been severed).
I was listening to the doctors outside my room and I heard the words "prognosis zero" and "quadriplegic". This shocked me a bit because after thinking hard, I remembered a quadriplegic was something like a paraplegic and they're paralysed! This combined with the term "prognosis zero" did not leave me with happy thoughts.
Suddenly things had changed. I began to consider the concept of not just lying there (as usual) and getting better. I asked doctor(s) about my condition, but it wasn't easy because I could hardly talk. It was easy to tell some of them didn't want to waste their time trying to find simple 3 syllable words to describe my medical condition to me. I felt insulted & helpless but I really needed to know. (I later learnt that anyone who lasts longer in a coma that say.. 2 weeks has an increased chance of not being capable of being able to think. The longer the coma the worse the prognosis).
I knew I could think, but they didn't & to look at me paralysed, hooked up in the bed as I was, with crossed eyes (worse than they are now) - I suppose I can see how they thought they were wasting their time. It was explained to me about how unique I was and that I should "really be thrilled to be alive" !
That was something I had great difficulty understanding.
All I could feel was pain. I couldn't move. My bike was wrecked. My girlfriend was killed. I had no prospect of recovery, yet I should really be "thrilled to be alive"!
I am now.. but then, no way!
About this time was when I really began to to discover what "being alone" and what feeling lonely really meant.
Mum & dad did visit me regularly, and I don't think I could tell you how much their visits and love meant to me, however the loneliness I felt in between the rations of their presence was something that left me feeling just so cold, helpless alone & empty. If only I had, had a relationship with Jesus then - there is no way I would have felt so alone. But I didn't.
It was around about now that I first met Kaye. She was a very new student nurse who had been thrown in at the deep end and was given me to look after. First off she had to put a suction tube down the trecci tube in my neck & suck out mucus collecting in my lungs. I could tell she was doing it very carefully, (I didnt know she had never done it before). We became good friends, she also used to visit me whenever she could. I valued her friendship, I had no idea that someday we would marry.
One day a young physio came upstairs to see me from the spinal rehab gym. She had heard about me & that one of my injuries was a spinal condition, so she used her initiative to find me. Her name was Marcella. As I was lying there, she picked up my left arm, felt it and said "we'll have to get you used to sitting up in a chair, so you can come down to the gym, if you want to"?
I said ok. (she was the first person who had seriously considered that recovery for me was a possiblity) So the next day I was moved from the bed to a large old lounge chair in my room. The nurses set me up with pillows all around me to hold me up so I could get used to sitting. The nurse on duty & I got along well so she asked if I thought It would be ok, & if I minded if she went out for a minute. I said ok.. This was alright! At that time I felt more normal than I had for ages. I was on my own and learning to sit so I can start going to the gym and start getting better!
- My first mistake was to move my head.
I moved it to look around but it fell to my left. I was straining my muscles to pick it up again but now things were getting worse because my body started to follow. I summoned all my strength, but it was no good. I could see my self falling on my ankle which had sharp rods sticking out of it setting the bones. I decided to call out, but my voice barely worked and I made hardly a sound. I had to decide was it worth me trying to yell or was it safer to wait because, each time I yelled, the harder I yelled - the further I slid. - I felt really pathetic.
- I started to cry.
I was discovered before I fell out of the chair and was quickly returned to bed, exhausted. I immediately fell asleep.
As I think back about this situation now, I really wish I new Jesus then.
The first few times I made the trip downstairs to the gym I went straight to sleep on the mat. I quickly built a good working relationship with Marcella. She was about my age or slightly younger. She had just arrived From Brisbane and I was her 1st full time "case" in her new job. Later on when I checked myself out of Austin, she immediately returned to Brisbane..
I would go down to the gym and over time began to learn how I could recognise muscle groups and if I could, then work out how to isolate the muscles and then work on them - to make them stronger. It was a very slow process but it was progress and that was something I was told I couldnt even look forward to!
Ever since I was told - "well look you shouldn't even be alive so be happy; but don't expect any change or to get any better".
--> I just couldn't accept that concept. I used to be a strong, gifted & agile bloke - and in my mind I still was.
I was determined to work for recovery. Even though all the doctors and staff (except Marcella) were saying no, I was determined, at least - not to stay the way I was.
After time I also began going to Occupational Therapy. A girl named Jenny was my O.T. & we also got along well.
O.T. Generally consisted of me being wheeled up to a specially raised bench so I could put some tiles approximately where they should be (with my one hand that worked), to later be grouted by someone else to make a "cheese board" that no-one needed. I remember one day when I was in an electric wheel chair, Jenny took me into the "specially modified kitchen" to watch me make a cup of tea or coffee. - I said if I want one I just ask mum to please get me one. But she said what if mums not there? So I said well I go without until she returns. But she wanted to see me make a cup.
I asked her why when she knows it would be extremely difficult for me at this time? "wait a bit longer until I get better then I will make you one", I said. She still didn't get it. I was going to get better, but she was teaching me, just incase I didn't. We were friends and I could tell she wanted to believe me, but her professionalism and her previous experience with spinal patients (who by the time they had reached this stage of recovery, were still denying the reality of their injury) - made her persist. (I can understand her position because I saw a couple of people who had complete spinal breaks, who were still denying the reality of their disability & it is a rather difficult situation to deal with. "Complete" is where the broken spine has completely severed the spinal cord. Corresponding to the level of the break approximately equals the level of paralysis).
Eventually I was moved out to ward 17, the spinal recovery unit. The acute spinal ward at the Austin (at that time) was ward 7. (on the morning of my accident I had parked my harley across ward 7's wheelchair crossing - so my friend Henk could see it from his bed). I worked hard every day and when I wasn't sleeping I was often looking at my xrays and reading books, trying to find out the medical truth behind my spinal condition.
Because it was so rare, it was pretty easy to find the info I was after. It was kind of like looking for the spelling of one word in different dictionaries. Ignoring my head & other injuries, just concentrating on my spinal injury, the bottom line was: because I was still alive, the degree to which I could recover was unknown. Yet all these doctors & every one were telling me: "you cant do" this or that. They had already pigeon-holed me & were treating me like I was a quad in a wheelchair - for life. As far as I was concerned my recovery had only just begun. I checked myself out of Austin (I had been there about 1yr) and soon began attending Bethesda hospital as an out-patient.
I moved into the spare room at my parents place in Macleod, and I took nurse Kaye with me!
Bethesda deals particularly with victims of motor vehicle accidents who have suffered head injuries. They have a good physio department, an O.T. department, speech therapy, psychologists & social workers.
Most of the staff there are Christians and are all really good at what they do. I attended there for about a year and when I came out I was walking with a 4 point stick. (it's sort of like a really light stool, only with a handle instead of a seat).
Next I went to Glen Waverly Rehabilitation centre, where I got more of the same. I went there for just under one year. By the time I came out of there, I was using the walking stick which I still use today.
As soon as I had recovered enough, I moved from my parents home to a unit Kaye had found in Heidelberg, close to Austin & not too far to travel to Bethesda (in Richmond).
When I was attending Glen Waverly Rehab we were renting a house across the road from shops in Eaglemont. Kaye & I were married while I was attending Glen Waverly Rehab.
When I began my rehab at Austin, Marcella could feel a tendon tense in my left forearm. Ever since then I had worked hard almost every day for recovery. Now I could move, walk & think again. Just before I left bethesda to begin at Glen Waverly, they broke the news of my infertility to Kaye & myself. They said IVF was not out of the question - so we shouldn't be overly concerned. Two months later Kaye fell pregnant with our first child, Prudence. We now have three: Prue, Molly & Joshua.
I had Kaye but I still felt alone. Kaye loved me, helped me and was a good support, but when I returned home from a full day of doing rehab, I still needed a break; A mental rest at least. And something to take away the "heavy" "conscience like" thoughts that kept entering my head. They made me flustered a bit angry and sort of confused. Grass or hash did the job. A few good joints & nothing really mattered or was that important & every thing was "fine". For me at the time it was an escape & was a welcome relief from the intense task I had undertaken - complete recovery.
By the time I had completed my formal recovery program however, because I had used the drug to keep me sane in-between sessions; how was I going to say "no more", when, the less I worked, the more I smoked & therefore the less motivated I was to find a reason to want to stop ?
I wrote a letter, (I couldn't write, so I made a tape), to the MRA (motor cycle riders ass'n) in melbourne. The letter outlined my accident details & I asked them to act as a lobby group on my behalf to try & get something done about the driver who caused my accident. [the police attended but he wasn't breath tested & ended up only being fined $150. - yet he killed Tina!]
A bloke named Ben came out & saw me. Ben managed the MRA shop in the city. Nothing much came of my letter, but Ben & I became good friends & smoking & drinking partners.
Both Kaye & Ben's wife Vera also became friends. Vera started going to their local church (St Hilary's in Kew), & soon became a Christian. One day we were invited to go along to a service with her. We did, (to a couple). it wasn't like I had anticipated. I went to a supposed Church of England boys school so I was familiar with all the pomp & ceremony & special insignia & garments along with the reverend up on the platform speaking down to all the sinners below. This was what I was expecting but not what I found.
This church was big (for Melbourne) and it was full of - people. It had a band with electric guitars & they weren't playing 18th century chart busters. I later found out the guy at the front talking about stuff, was the priest. It didn't take long until Kaye became "one" too. Then I lost Ben, and there was only me left.
One day they suckered me into accompanying them to a weekend church camp at Howqua. It was at a bush resort type place where everyone had their own room or unit but we all ate together in the same dining room. We stayed in a caravan in the carpark. At different times they had people speaking & doing workshops 'n stuff but mostly the band was playing & everyone was just praising the Lord. I didn't really get into that stuff so I went to the pub. Because the township of Mansfield wasn't far away Ben, Vera & Kaye came too. Because they came with me, we couldn't be away for too long so I was throwing back the bourbon's as fast as I could. We parked outside the first hotel we saw but ended up drinking at one across the street. When it was time to go Kaye went to get the car & we started walking to meet her. After walking a bit I needed to take a leak. We were outside a third hotel at the time & I could see Kaye in the car, so I asked everyone to wait for a sec! & I went in to go to the Men's. They all thought I went in to have another drink but I didnt. I came straight out and looked at where I last saw the car, but it wasn't there. I looked around but I couldn't see it anywhere.
There was a median strip providing parking for the shops, either side of the highway. I walked across to the median strip to get a better view of the area - but no Kaye - no car or friends. Suddenly this intense feeling of abandonment & loneliness hit me; just like at hospital. I couldn't believe it, not Kaye she wouldnt leave me ? I just kept saying - "I dont believe it". I figured they all got miffed at me & decided to go back to the camp & let me find my own way. I couldn't see them anywhere so I thought, well stuff this I'll hitch hike home. But then I thought no way!, they're in my car. I'll hitch hike to the camp, drive my car home & leave them stranded. So I started walking. I had only passed a few parked cars when Kaye called out to me. - I had just walked past my own car! They thought I had gone in for another drink and so had parked nearby. I was livid - but I later carmed down.
The next day we attended a talk given by bloke named Rupert Charkam. He was a pommie (I think), Jew who was now a strong Christian. I wasn't really listening to him but at the end there were people going forward & being prayed for 'n stuff. I saw Kaye go up to talk to Rupert. The next thing I knew I was standing, I felt like I wanted to cry. It felt.. weird. I went forward to Rob Carter, (he was assistant minister at St Hilary's) & all these people came out of nowhere -praying for me. Rob gave me a choice & I accepted Jesus asmy Saviour. Kaye had asked Rupert to pray for me.
Jesus softened my heart and continues to bless me and my family. I have continued to improve both physically & mentally - only more slowly. I feel just so grateful. At last I had found what was missing in my life.
God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I found smoking dope works like an analgesic to the brain. It clouds over problems - sure. But it also shuts out God.
Rob Carter asked me, "Do you reject God?". I said, "Oh no, I wouldn't do that". That's when it dawned on me, and the the question was raised in my mind:- why then if I could acknowledge him - why then dont I grab hold of him, with both hands ?
Imagine that - grabbing hold of God. Having your own 1 to 1 personal relationship with Him. That thought alone blows me away. That is more than possible. it's what God wants - but he wants you to decide. I just had.
I feel motivated to praise the lord at every opportunity and I feel peace and satisfaction from his presence in my life.
I also feel a great or urgent need to try to explain to others who don't know Jesus, that he is real - he is God and he is here with us today and only wants us to receive his love and healing. Through prayer, fellowship with other christians, reading the bible & whole heartedly praising the Lord I have learnt to communicate with & receive love & guidance from Jesus. You too can receive his love, healing & salvation. He will never ever let you down or leave you alone. He is love.
God paid for our salvation through Jesus Christ who was killed on the cross and who rose again.
He is the lamb of God, who is described in Rev 13: verse 8 "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast- all whose names have not been written in the lamb's book of life".
You are already accepted and loved by Jesus.
All you have to do to receive his love is to ask.
Ask for forgiveness and accept Him as your own personal Savior.
Jesus will not only forgive you, he will give you eternal life.
The old you will die but you will live on because you have been forgiven and born again of spirit. Your name will be entered in the lambs book of life.
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