Our clients' stories
To help and inspire others, TAC clients have shared their experiences of dealing with the impacts of road trauma.
They describe their successes, their challenges and the practices that have helped them most during their recovery journey.
So I was hit in 1999. I got off the train at Elsternwick Station and I got hit by a car as I was crossing the road. So I broke my tibia and fibula, fractured my right orbital, bruised the frontal part of my brain, onto the right side of my brain.
They put me into an induced coma for four days. And they expected me to wake up when they took me out off it, but I didn't. I stayed in the coma for three and a half weeks. Yeah, I was in a hospital for five months, in a wheelchair for eight months, had to learn to walk again.
So I was told I would never walk again. I would never talk again. And I was like, "No way, I'm going to show you." And I did. I learnt to walk again. I could run before I could walk again.
I lost everything. I lost my identity. I was somebody who was on nightclubs. I was on stage. I was dancing. I was, you know, I was it and a bit. But then all of a sudden I wasn't. I knew the way I was going to get better was to learn to deal with people again.
But TAC have helped me a lot when it comes to medical, when it comes to me having to see doctors. So I still see a physiotherapist and hopefully I'll get onto an exercise program soon.
I figured I'm an artist and I'm disabled. So obviously my way forward is in disability arts. Work gives somebody the sense that they are valued. It helped me feel that my life was progressing. I was going somewhere. I wasn't just treading water.
I started my business 'By Accident', which is a series of facilitated conversations for other people that have experience of brain injury or significant trauma. It achieves a sense of community, which is vital. Vital for people with brain injuries.
I think what it's taken me to get to where I am now is pure belief. Life is not over once you acquire a disability. Life is not over once you undergo serious trauma. It is possible to rebuild.
It is possible to become something more than you ever were before.
Becoming more than you were before, Eva's story
After being hit by a car when she was crossing the street, Eva spent weeks in a coma and months in hospital. She was determined to walk and talk again.
Eva believes in the value of work and has started a business to support people who have experience of brain injury or significant trauma.
I was a passenger in a car that went through a give-way sign, hit another car and crashed into a tree. I was 19 at the time.
Life as I knew it changed dramatically. I got many bleeds in the brain and an ABI. When I was in hospital, I was like, I don't want this to be my life, I want so much more than this.
Yeah, I'm very stubborn. Don't you dare tell me I can't do it.
I've received speech therapy. TAC helped fund it. My speech has come leaps and bounds. And the massive one is physiotherapy too. I'm sure you would think walking is a piece of cake, but little do you know.
I go to schools and speak to year 11 students about determination, resilience, grit and power. And a little bit about road safety, because at that age, they've got to hear it.
I think it's also quite motivating to hear someone being young and having to learn to walk and talk again.
I just want to help one person. You're not only responsible for yourself, you're responsible for others too.
So you've got to be careful when you're driving, because it's got such a ripple effect.
Determination and resilience, Fleur's story
Fleur was 19 when she was a passenger in a car accident. She describes how speech therapy and physiotherapy has been challenging but important to her recovery.
Fleur now goes to schools and speaks to year 11 students about road safety and the importance of determination, resilience, grit and power.
I was on my pop's farm, riding a motorbike with my cousin. I was going down the hill. Too fast. And I went over one big hump. I went over the first one, that was fine. Went over the second one and I was going too fast.
I wasn't wearing a helmet and all of a sudden my cousin stood up and said,"Wait a minute, Juan hasn't opened the gate yet. Where is he?" He stood up and he can see me laying on the ground. He gets up and gets on his motorbike, comes down, checks me and I was dead.
The ambulance driver goes to my mum, "He's not going to make it Win." And mum goes, "You put him in that effing ambulance now and take him to hospital."
I was in a coma for four days, had three or four epileptic fits. Broke a ligament and me kneecap. Smashed this side of my head, because I wasn't wearing a helmet. And that's why I've got the loss of vision now in most of this eye.
You learn trust.
They've been unbelievable, TAC that is. They've just helped me out. I see a psychologist every fortnight. I see an optometrist. Yeah, I usually see them every two or three weeks.
I didn't think I'd be able to bring kids up. And now I've got an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old.
Like everyone, you have your ins and outs. I take my outs a bit worse than I should. I'm ... if I hear a siren and my wife's not home, I'll think straight away that's her. She's had an accident, whatever, touch wood. But like, yeah, it just freaks me out.
If you're on wheels, if you're on a push bike, motorbike, scooter, skateboard, wear a helmet. It's a life saver. Even if you think, "Oh God, I'm just going down the corner." Nuh, that's when things can happen.
Learning trust, Juan’s story
Riding his motorbike on his family’s farm, Juan had an accident that led to vision loss and head injuries.
Juan says he learned the value of trust and is grateful for the support of his health providers. Although he didn’t think he would be able to raise kids, Juan now has two teenagers.
I had my car accident in 2008. To be honest, I'm lucky to be alive because I pretty much broke every bone in my body.
It took them six and a half hours to cut me out of the car and all the dash and everything fell on my legs.
That's why I had to get the amputation. I spent about five weeks in hospital, in ICU and then about a year and a half in rehab. I did go through a period where I was depressed.
When I think about, you know, my main goal is to walk again and I've had multiple people tell me that they can see me walking again on two prosthetics. Yeah, that keeps me going.
My physios are my inspiration on the work side. We celebrate like mini goals, if that makes sense. They're the ones that always motivate me and they just always tell me, you know, you can do this, you know, you've worked hard to get here.
The role TAC has played is, it's quite a big role. I think it's bigger than people think it is. Like I'm really, really grateful for them.
The case managers always motivate a lot, whether it's through talking or whether it's through actual doing anything. And that just helps as well, like mentally it helps because you go, and you think ah yeah, there's another person that cares and wants to help me.
Just recently I've gotten the two prosthetics because I only had my second amputation last November.
So yeah, just last week I got the opportunity to stand and take a few steps on both, which is really rewarding.
Achieving goals, Marwan’s story
Marwan was involved in a serious car accident that led to amputations and lengthy rehabilitation.
Motivated by his physiotherapists, Marwan celebrates achieving small goals and has taken his first few steps on his prosthetics.
I was driving on New Years day early in the morning, and I felt really drowsy. I pulled aside.
My other friend who started driving. He actually fell asleep on the wheel. There was a parked four-wheel drive, and we collided straight into the back of that car.
Classified as acquired brain injury. It's affected my speech as you can see. My balance, my walk. My relationship with community got affected a lot.
It was like hitting rock bottom, you know, losing all your abilities. So I made a decision I said, "No, that's it. I need to get out of this."
Community like TAC groups, those groups were really good. I actually worked at the local council. With my recovery working, it was making me feel like normal. It made me feel like, just like everyone else.
At the same time I was making money, yeah that was good. When I used to get paid, "Okay, we're going out tonight." And I know, I used to feel good and proud.
I volunteer to do speaking; I speak about consequences. I share my story. But it's really important for me that, even if one person takes something good, and is more careful and is more cautious on the road, that will be one life saved.
When I look back at my photos and that, I see how far I've come.
It makes me feel like Superman.
Getting back in the community, Yeksan's story
Yeksan sustained serious injuries when the friend he was riding with fell asleep at the wheel and hit a parked car.
Yeksan talks about how working, volunteering and sharing his story with others has helped him feel valued.
At the TAC, we are committing to learning from the experiences of our clients. Our work in this area, called Client Voice, allows us to make informed decisions that will provide positive benefits for those impacted by road trauma. TAC clients and staff work work together to find a better way for the TAC to deliver services to the Victorian community.
If you'd like to learn more or register your interest to take part in our Client Voice work, visit our Client Voice webpage.