‘Do you want a tea or wine?’ Ingrid’s mum Lainie asked when she popped out to say hello.
‘Thanks, but I just want to get home,’ I said.
It was about 9.30pm.
Aged 25, after a year skiing overseas, I’d recently come back to spend time with my sick grandpa, Jim.
With his funeral a few days earlier, it’d been a tough week.
Sliding back into my parents’ Pajero, which I’d borrowed, I drove along the single-lane country road.
Less than a minute later, motoring up a gully, the tyres caught on loose gravel and the 4WD suddenly spun sideways.
As I wrenched the steering wheel, the car flipped, then it ploughed through a fence and into a paddock.
After rolling four more horrific times, the 4WD landed with a crash on the driver’s side.
On impact, the seat belt popped open, and my window shattered.
Trying to wriggle free, I couldn’t move.
With my body still in the car, my legs had flung out the window at an awkward angle, and were trapped beneath the weight of the nearly 2500-kilo car!
Glancing at the centre console, my phone was gone.
It must’ve flown out the window! I fretted.
The underbelly of the car was facing the road, but my lights were facing Ingrid’s house, which was about 1km away.
Sobbing, I beeped the horn over and over, flashing my headlights repeatedly.
They’d probably gone to bed...
Rocking my body as hard as I could from side to side, I even tried to roll the massive car upright.
But it was useless…
After a while, the battery drained, and the lights and horn went dead.
My legs are going numb, I panicked, terror setting in.
Take slow, deep breaths, I imagined my mum, Morag, telling me.
As the hours ticked past, I knew I was pretty buggered.
Am I going to die? I wondered.
Just past daylight, I heard the rumble of a car engine.
‘Help!’ I screamed as it drove past.
But as a second car zoomed past soon after, I worried I’d never be found.
Around 9am, I heard another vehicle.
By now, I’d been pinned under the car for nearly 12 hours.
This time, the car pulled up.
‘Help me! I’m stuck!’ I yelled frantically.
Seeing two men approach the wreck, I choked out,
‘I need a chopper!’
When emergency services arrived, they set to work trying to cut me out. Looking through the skylight,
I could see my distraught parents in the paddock, too.
I’m not ready to die! I thought.
Three hours later, I was finally loaded into a helicopter.
My world went black…
When I came to in the ICU three weeks later, my dad, Perry, was holding my hand.
A tube in my throat helped me to breathe, but I couldn’t speak.
And my legs were gone…
With no blood flow for so long, doctors had no choice but to amputate.
My right limb was cut off below the knee, while only 8cm of my left limb remained.
I don’t want to look, I thought devastated.
Released from hospital five weeks later, three weeks of rehab followed.
I was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Despite that, two months after the accident, I was back driving and even started a new job.
I’d been fitted with prosthetics, but my left leg was so short, walking was awkward and painful.
I’ve just got to get on with it, I decided.
Adapting to life on wheels, I started playing wheelchair basketball.
When I had my son, Quinn, seven years on from the accident, I wrapped a luggage strap around my chair and my bub so he wouldn’t fall off my lap!
One day I want to walk, I thought.
When Quinn was three, I read about a procedure - osseointegration - where a titanium implant is inserted directly into the bone.
It could then be connected directly to a robotic limb.
It would be like an extension of me!
With community help, I fundraised enough cash for the procedure and the prosthetics, and a year later had the first of three ops.
Soon after getting my special bionic legs fitted, I took my very first steps.
Giving me a big hug, my surgeon Munjed was so choked up with emotion, he had to walk away.
Today, I still use my wheelchair, but I love the freedom of using my legs.
I’m even a world champion outrigging paddler!
Recently, after a doctor’s appointment, I got an email from the receptionist, Tracey.
When you were in the waiting room, there was a young girl, aged 12, who saw you. Really ‘saw’ you, she’d written.
She’d drawn a picture of me, which Tracey had attached.
Opening it, I was touched. She’d drawn a red cape streaming behind me.
Super woman! the little girl had written.
‘You’re so inspirational,’ I get told.
But I’m just doing what I have to do.
Quinn, now nine, is a loving, caring boy with empathy beyond his years.
I’m no super hero – I’m just a mum who was given a second chance.
And I have everything to live for!
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