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Support Services

Belinda Adams

Personal Stories

Belinda Adams

In March 2012 I found myself living every parent's worst nightmare when my son sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident. Initially they did not expect him to survive the night due to a fractured spine, collapsed lung, broken ribs and severe head injury. I was greeted with this news by my cousin as I stepped off the plane in my hometown of Broken Hill. I had flown there for a brief holiday and was unable to get a flight back out to Brisbane until the following morning. To say this was the longest night of my life would be an understatement - no words will ever describe the helplessness I felt at that time. My son spent two weeks in a coma before waking and transferring to the neuro ward and making slow but steady progress with his recovery.

Stuck in limbo
The neuro ward is an acute ward, and after a few weeks my son had progressed enough to be transferred to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU). Unfortunately the limited number of beds (26 beds for the entire State) meant we were put on a waiting list, with no idea if or when a bed would become available.

The first six months after a Brain Injury is the most optimal time for recovery , so knowing my son may not receive urgently needed help was beyond frustrating. He was taking up a bed in an acute ward, and I found myself becoming therapist and carer in an attempt to rehabilitate him while stuck in limbo.

I spent every waking moment at the hospital, and ceased to exist for my other two children, even though they were at pivotal times in their lives - my daughter was in her final year of high school and my younger son his first. Being a single mother, a lot of pressure was placed on my daughter at this time to take over at home while trying to study and all while under extreme emotional distress. I also had to go through the process of applying to become my son's legal guardian (as he was over 18) so I could handle his medical and financial affairs. This was a very time consuming and stressful process which involved me attending a hearing at QCAT. This added a lot of pressure to an already stressful time.

Financial strain
I also had to apply for Centrelink benefit as being a single mother living on a casual wage I had no sick or holiday entitlements. I stopped working to help with my son's recovery which put my family under great financial strain on top of everything else. We were very lucky to have a great support system around us which got us through this very difficult time with donations of vouchers and home cooked meals. I am very thankful for the kindness we were shown throughout this time by family, friends, and even complete strangers.

I began doing my own research on other options for rehabilitation only to find that BIRU is the only facility in Queensland specialising in Brain Injury rehabilitation.

My son did eventually go to BIRU (after being moved around the hospital to wherever a bed was available) but he was one of the lucky ones.

I realised that with Acquired Brain Injury being an invisible disability, it is a subject some feel uncomfortable to discuss within the community. The more I found the courage to speak about it, the more people I have found who also have been touched by this in some way in their own lives.

The need for support
Throughout this experience I had been working on my first screenplay "Chasing Jon" which touches on the condition. If it had not been for the help my son and I received from so many in the community we wouldn't be where we are today. My son is now back working and living a full life, and I hope to pay forward the generous support we received to others in need.


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