"On, Sunday the 30th of July, I was getting ready to play a match of rugby league against a traditional rival in Glebe; I was playing for Holy Cross College at Ryde. We were leading by a large margin in the second half, I decided to have a run of the ball and as I got tackled I clashed heads with a defender which forced my head to go back in an whiplash motion which meant my vertebra at C3/C4 fractured and dislocated. From that I became a quadriplegic.
It was a scary time cause when you get tackled you automatically try to get back on your feet and when I couldn’t I knew I was in trouble. What were my parents going to think because they didn’t want me to play league at all. I was airlifted in the Westpac Lifesaver chopper to the Royal North Shore Hospital where doctors and nurses were waiting to rush me to Emergency. The doctors had the awful task of telling my family that I’d have 10% chance of living. With the help of the great nurses and doctors of the spinal unit I got through 12 months of hospital, six months at RNSH and six months at Royal Rehab at Ryde.
I was 15 years old. Losing my privacy and independence and not being able to do the simplest things such as feeding myself or dressing myself has been the hardest.
I love rugby league and it continues to be a passion of mine. I have been able to help out with the Balmain Tigers doing statistics, and with the help of friends, I’ve been able to get around Sydney and travel parts of the east coast of Australia.
It’s now been over 20 years and I am living with my wife and it’s been like one long giant roller-coaster ride. You can never come to terms with something like this but with the help of friends & family I’ve been able to deal with it. I have carers who come every morning and night from different agencies that have been great but it’s still restrictive. During the day, I have my parents and brother along with my wife help me with the feeding etc. It’s started to become a little difficult with my parents getting older. As much as I love my family and as much as they have done so much for me, it’s time for a change not just for me but for them, they aren’t getting any younger and there only so much they can do.
I can only speak for myself, but I want some resemblance of a life back, and the independence to explore life on my own. Too often I’ve heard people say I can’t, or how can you, you’re disabled. No more. I accomplished my dream of getting married to my wife and I want to start a family with her. I’m tired of living in fear. I want to live my life. Like any person, disabled or not, I have a dream and a vision for my life. However as a person with a disability, I do have certain needs that need to be met. Youngcare is so appealing to me as it offers me the personal freedom to meet my unique needs, but still enables me the opportunity to live my life fully and independently."