Here, Meg, tells the story in her own words.
S￼unbaking on the beach, I looked out to see my hubby-to-be splashing about in the water with his mates. The sun was setting, dolphins were swimming in the sea and I was surrounded by the people I loved. What a perfect way to spend the day, I thought.
It was December 2016 and I was on my joint hens and bucks weekend with my fiancé Brett, 40. It had been my idea to have a joint party. ‘I can’t bear to leave you, even for a weekend!’ I told Brett. So 12 of us had gone to my mum’s beach house. ‘Ten weeks until you’re my wife,’ Brett had said, before running into the water.
I’d met him two years earlier when we lived in the same apartment block. Tall and athletic with a beard, he was really cute.
‘Do you want to go out sometime?’ I asked one day. Both very active, on our first date we went for a run! Then we started going out for dinners and to concerts. ‘I love you,’ Brett told me after two months. I knew I felt the same.
Brett was so kind and helpful to everyone he knew – driving for an hour to mow his parents’ lawn or stopping to help a stranger struggling with a flat tyre. After dating for 18 months, we were out running one day, when Brett pulled out
a beautiful ring. ‘Will you marry me?’ he asked. ‘Yes!’ I cried.
Now the countdown to the big day was on!
I watched Brett kick a ball to his brother Geoff, 33, and then run into the ocean before doing a little dive. Seconds later, I heard a commotion. ‘What is Brett doing? He’s swimming weirdly. He’s face down,’ said my friend, Kelsey, sounding worried.I thought Brett was probably mucking about, but Kelsey, a nurse, went into the shallow water. As Kelsey turned Brett over, I could see he wasn’t moving. Racing over, a group of people pulled Brett onto the beach and stabilised his neck. ‘I love you, I’m sorry,’ he said, with a look of sheer terror on his face.
While Brett was airlifted to hospital, I followed by car with my mum, Leslie, and sister Mollie, 28. I felt like I was living in a nightmare. By the time we got to the hospital Brett was already being examined. ‘He’s broken his neck at the C5 area and sustained a spinal cord injury. There’s a risk he’ll be quadriplegic and never walk again,’ the doctors told us. I couldn’t process what was being said. But he must have hit his head when he went into the water to dive.‘This can’t be happening,’ I cried. Brett was a healthy active man who loved walking, running and swimming.
A while later, I got to see him in intensive care. Heavily drugged, my fiancé had a tube in his mouth and was totally unable to move. How could our dream weekend away have turned out like this?
Over the next couple of days, Brett learned to communicate by spelling out words using his eyes. He spelled out, This is not what you signed up for. You don’t have to be here. Tears welled in my eyes. ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I told him. He was still going to be my husband and we were going to get through this.
After 10 days in intensive care, Brett was moved to a hospital nearer to home. For the next three months, he had intensive physiotherapy and respiratory therapy and was then able to speak again. Meanwhile, I had to cancel everything for our wedding we’d so lovingly planned.
By early February last year, Brett got a little movement back in his wrist and by mid-February, he was off the ventilator and no longer needed a feeding tube. Once back home, a team of nurses looked after Brett and he started using an electric wheelchair. We went on our old running routes with him in his chair. And Brett began electronic stimulation to try to regain movement in his muscles. Some days, when there was no progress, it felt hopeless. Looking at his face full of frustration and pain, my heart bled for him.
Four months after the accident, I had an idea of how to cheer him up. ‘Shall we organise another wedding,’ I said with a smile. ‘Let’s do it,’ replied Brett.
We decided to have it at a special centre for the disabled that had a beautiful garden with wheelchair access. As I walked towards the love of my life I already knew we were truly together in sickness and in health. Brett’s face was so full of love as he watched me make my entrance in a beautiful white dress. It was an emotional day as it marked how much we’ve been through together.
Now, our focus is on getting Brett into a manual wheelchair and then we want to travel before trying for children in the future. We hope Brett will be able to walk again one day.But one thing is for sure, together, we’ll keep on fighting.
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