Rachel Roberts

Danielle Haggerty

Slowly Starting to rebuild my life.

I grew up thinking I was invincible – that nothing would ever happen to me, but then BANG. I was in a major car accident on Sunday 13th December 1998 around 1 o’clock, a few weeks before Christmas. My boyfriend was taking me out for lunch, to celebrate us being together for a while. He was doing 76kms in a 70km zone (Police report) he was on his P-plates and therefore inexperienced.

Many different factors caused the accident

We drove around the bend and we crashed. Most of the damage happened to me being the passenger. He was driven by ambulance to the closest hospital and I was airlifted by helicopter straight to the Alfred Hospital Trauma Centre, it took the ambulance men over an hour to remove me from the car and I have been told I nearly died a few times in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. At the time I had just finished my Arts Degree (in ceramics) at Monash university in Caulfield. I worked part-time at Ishka. I was happy and my life was going beautifully, I had just finished my arts degree, and had lots of friends and a boyfriend. My now brother-in-law took my sister away for the weekend and he proposed to her after 8 years of being together, when they returned I was unconscious at the Alfred Hospital.

So it was touch and go for a while — I was in a critical condition.

I lost my spleen, had 4 broken ribs, a fractured hip and traumatic brain injury. I had to have a tracheotomy, this where the Doctors split my wind pipe in and put a tube in, so I could breathe more easily.

The nurses asked my family – Mum, Dad and my Sister if they could sleep at the Hospital that night, because I wasn’t looking too good and they thought that I may die. My family and friends were concerned for I was in the high dependency unit for several days. In fact I was in a coma for just over 6 weeks. After about 9 weeks of being in The Alfred I was moved to Glen Waverley Rehabilitation Hospital. I was an in-patient there for 4 months.

I was still in Post Traumatic Amnesia. I couldn’t remember very much, I even introduced my Dad to my Sister, thinking they didn’t know each other! I don’t remember hardly anything about being an in-patient. I was shown photos of my life and I thought I was living in the Seventies.

I had to re-learn how to walk, how to talk, go to the toilet, shower, write, cook, clean and how to swallow food again. I had to wear nappies and my mattress was on the floor as I could have fallen out of a bed and I had absolutely NO MEMORY.

When I left Rehab, I lived with my Mum for a year and I continued to attend Rehab as an Outpatient until November 1999, another 7 months.

I couldn’t drink alcohol or drive at this time — I was fully a child again. I had Carers, and they helped me to learn everything so I could live again.

Now it is just over 3 years since my accident, I still need Carers on occasions. I have an Occupational Therapist and a Speech Therapist. I am back at T.A.F.E. College learning my Artwork. I live by myself now, in a unit. I do 2 volunteer jobs — and I have learned to drive again. I can not work full-time because I get tired and I get stressed easily, over little things, that never bothered me before. I also can’t read a Melways. I get confused. I forget what I was going to buy at the supermarket or shop.

Every now and then I see a psychologist. My social life is so different now. I have had close friends leave me, and my other friends are amazing in helping me. You never do know who your real friends are — NEVER.

This accident has changed my life so much, and my families life as well. It hasn’t changed in a good way.

I AM STILL LOST ! ! ! but slowly starting to rebuild my life.

So please think about your responsibilities when either a passenger or a driver of a car and ……

the driver being interviewed
drive 4 life