there is a free six day course starting in July – a meaningful and satisfying way to contribute to your community
50 Forans Rd, Barongarook West VIC 3249
Anam Cara is Gaelic for Soul Friend.
Nicola Provan’s Story:
When I set off to drive to Melbourne on Saturday 27 August 2016, little did I know it would take 11 weeks for me to return home.
My last memory before the accident was waving goodbye at about 10 pm to the Hazara family I was visiting in Melbourne.
I am told the accident happened at approximately 11.45 pm a few hundred metres east of the first Birregurra turnoff (as you are driving west from Winchelsea to Colac). Forensics apparently concluded that it was caused by the other driver having fallen asleep. It was a head on collision in 100km zone. The results were not pretty!
It took SES volunteers 4 hours to cut me out of the wreckage while ambulance workers kept me alive with blood transfusions. My spleen was severely ruptured and so I was haemorrhaging internally. My right arm was smashed to pieces with bones protruding through the skin. I sustained fractures to my pelvis and lower verterbrae; and, the impact also resulted in a bleed on my brain.
I was flown by helicopter to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where I went straight into the operating theatre and I was placed in an induced coma to give my body the best chance of reabsorbing the bleed on my brain. Fortunately it worked and a week later I was lifted out of the coma and began the process of trying to absorb what had happened to me. I had no memory of the accident whatsoever and the “hangover” effects of the induced coma made it very difficult for me to comprehend what I was being told. I was considered to be in a state of “post traumatic amnesia” for 19 days following the accident. I had no memory of the accident and could not grasp why I was being held hostage in a bed with high sides or why I could not just get up and leave. I begged every one of my visitors in the first two weeks to help me escape and get home!
I remained at the Royal Melbourne Hospital until 8 September when I was transferred for rehab to the Epworth Hospital in Richmond. By the time I got to the Epworth I had some understanding of the necessity of being there but still all I wanted to do was go home.
Two weeks after my admission at the Epworth there was a family meeting with my TAC consultant and my treating team (physio, nueropsych, social worker, doctors) and I begged them to let me be discharged to our local hospice, Anam Cara, for a week of the school holidays so I could be close enough to home to see my children every day.
All was arranged and it was like someone had magically pressed the pause button on the truly awful nightmare I was living hostage in a Melbourne hospital, physically separated from my children. I had a glorious week at Anam Cara with a steady stream of visits from friends and solid chunks of time (4-5 hours) with my children every day. It was still too early for me to be independently mobile but the wonderful nursing staff at Anam Cara waited on me: pushing me around in a wheelchair, transporting me on a commode to the toilet, assisting me to shower and making me lovely gluten free, vegetarian meals.
Returning to the Epworth in Richmond, as the school holidays drew to a close, was an awful challenge. But my TAC consultant was awesome and did all the research and leg work required to identify the local therapists I would need to assist my recovery. So even on the day I left Anam Cara (3rd October) I felt assured it would only be a couple of weeks before I could return.
In the intervening time back at the Epworth, I gained partial weight bearing status for my pelvis and completed thorough nueropysch testing to see if the bleed on my brain had caused any lasting impact (which thankfully, it had not).
I returned to Anam Cara on 24 October 2016 feeling great relief once again to be much closer to home and believing with reasonable confidence that I would not have to return to hospital in Melbourne. By now I was moving around independently, with a gutter frame, so I made a conscious effort to prepare as many of my own meals as possible so I could start making my own self-assessment as to whether I had the strength I would need for a return to life at home.
After three weeks at Anam Cara, I felt sure I was ready. My time at Anam Cara had enabled me to spend time with the kids each day whilst slowly building up my strength and tolerance for a return to the more normal expectations of life. For example, I had started preparing evening meals for my family in the kitchen at Anam Cara.
I am forever indebted to Anam Cara for easing my clamber back home; and, I am so very grateful for the foresight and initiative the Colac Otway community showed by doing the “hard yards” of envisioning and manifesting this wonderful facility into existence 5 years ago.
How blessed we are as a community to have this wonderful alternative to hospital !
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