On the road again

Time to read: 2 minutes

This story is reproduced from MHPE magazine volume 16 issue 2.

In early 2008, I was diagnosed with a very serious illness called Group A Streptococcus (GAS) Toxic Shock Syndrome Multi-organ Failure in which I was given a 10% survival rate.

I was put into an induced coma in the Townsville Base Hospital for about five weeks. On the 14th day of my illness, it was suggested to my wife Karen to amputate both of my feet below the knee as I wouldn’t survive much longer in ICU.

A week before my 44th birthday, I woke up, looked down, and saw my hands were covered in bandages and the space where my feet used to be. Before the illness I weighed 115kgs and was 190cm tall. After the surgery I was less than 60kg and 152cm.

Before my illness, I loved playing indoor/outdoor cricket, touch footy and other contact sports like rugby and league sports. I’d also spend time with my family walking and bike riding in national parks.After the illness, I was invited to be a part of a new program for Army called Army Adaptive Sports Program which started in late 2009. This was also the time that the 2008 Paralympics was on, and I started a rehabilitation and ADF Sports Policy progress to play Wheelchair Basketball in Townsville. This is when I first started playing adaptive sports.

I was lucky enough to have this adaptive sport approved by the ADF and then I got involved in many adaptive sports such as: wheelchair racing, sit skiing and seated throws of shot put, javelin and discus.

Adaptive sports are very good for rehabilitation as they assist people with serious injuries back into the community and to reconnect with their family.

I wanted to get back into bike riding with my two children and wife when they were on school holidays or on the weekend. I was told that due to all the scarring it would be unhealthy to ride a normal bicycle so I decided to apply to DVA for a hand cycle.

At the time of my application, adaptive rehabilitation or sports equipment weren’t available for DVA members so my application was unsuccessful. I decided to advocate for these items to be made available and eventually the list of available items was expanded. I now have a hand cycle and am preparing to climb Mt Kosciusko in February 2018 with my Scouts troop.

Have you had a checkup?

A comprehensive health assessment identifies early onset of physical or mental health conditions, and treats existing conditions. Ex-ADF members can ask their GP for a veteran-specific health assessment

Find out about the post-discharge GP health assessment