The fall and hospitalisation

At about 5.45pm on Wednesday April 3rd, 2013, I was standing in the kitchen at home opening the mail. My next clear recollection was laying in a hospital bed. 

What happened? Where am I? From what we can piece together, I had fainted, hit my head on the kitchen bench and then fell back hitting the back of my head directly onto the kitchen tiles. I was laying on the floor until my wife, Nicki, arrived home at 6.30pm and called the ambulance. 

 I was admitted to the Head Injury Unit of the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The result of the fall left me with 7 head fractures (skull, eye socket and jaw), bleeding from the ear, a burst ear drum, bruised eye socket and face, and a laceration to the back of my head. In the first week of my hospitalisation I also had pneumonia. From the point where I could communicate with any clarity it was also apparent that I was suffering from some loss of hearing, loss of peripheral vision, loss of taste and smell, neuropathy in the arms and hands (pins and needles and dexterity issues) and later it was discovered that I had damaged the vestibular apparatus (the body’s balance mechanism) in both ears. 

Discharge and rehabilitation

I was discharged from hospital on April 20th. Over the 17 day period I had lost almost 10kg, weighing in at 65.4kg on the day after I left hospital. Post-hospital rehabilitation began the very next day with my wife assisting me to walk 200m on the footpath behind our house. Over the next few weeks we worked on strengthening my body by doing a daily walk, body weight and resistance band exercises plus balance exercises. 

I had many visits from family and friends whilst I was at home recovering. One of my training mates asked me: “When you were lying in bed in the hospital did you ever think that you wouldn’t be able to train again”. My reply was a whole-hearted: “No. Definitely not. It was one of the things I was looking forward to getting back to”. 

In early June I started doing some easy walk/run training sessions with Nicki and my friend Mike (who was getting back to running after knee surgery). On June 29th I did the 5km Sandgate ParkRun with Nicki and my father-in-law on his birthday. On July 6th I ran the 10km, with Nicki, at the Gold Coast Marathon. On July 21st I celebrated my 40th Birthday by running the 10km Jetty-to-Jetty Fun Run at Redcliffe with 40 friends and running mates. 

Beans 4 Brains Fun Run

Nicki and I heard about Brain Injury Awareness Week and decided to put together an event to help raise money for SYNAPSE (the organisation dedicated to assisting those with head injuries). The first Beans 4 Brains Fun Run was held on August 18th with 80+ participants. In September, I completed my 14th consecutive Bridge to Brisbane Fun Run and in November I was delighted to get through my 12th Noosa Triathlon. 

In 2014, I decided to have another crack at the Gold Coast Marathon. During the preparation participating in the Geelong and Warwick Half-Marathons. On July 6th, I finished the marathon in a Personal Best of 3hrs 32mins 28secs. August saw us host the second Beans 4 Brains Fun Run, this time attracting 110 runners and walkers. To finish off the year, in November, I completed the Noosa Triathlon and later in the month managed a Personal Best Time of 18mins 49secs for 5km at the Minnippi ParkRun. 

The result of my accident has left me with a few hurdles that I am continuing to overcome. I am grateful to my family and friends for their support since the accident and I will be forever thankful to Nicki for all the things she has done for me over the last two years. I have come to terms with the permanent physical damage that was caused by my fall but realise that it could have been a lot worse. 

David and Nicki hold the Beans 4 Brains Fun Run annually.