The Good The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 4 | Life Love and Hiccups: The Good The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 4
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Sunday 27 July 2014

The Good The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 4

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Before we go on any further, I just want to say thank you. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this story with you and for your patience with what is quite an epic saga.

I think that's why I have never really shared the full story with anyone apart from my husband before - because it is so freaking long and drawn out with one drama after another, to the point that even I as I wrote this was all "Seriously? There's still more?"

But please, don't feel sorry for me as there really is no need.  This isn't intended to be a sob story in any way shape or form because despite the hiccups I have also had a very blessed life. Yes there has been shit that has happened, but we all go through shit don't we? That's just a part of life and yet there is so much goodness too, as long as we don't let the past blind us from seeing it.

Opening up and writing about all of this has been the most therapeutic thing I have ever done. With every part of the story I tell, I also release it. I have let go of any pain or anger I have attached to the memories and it's now gone, in the past where it belongs and it no longer holds any power over me.

We are nearly there.


My poor husband. I can only imagine what was going through his head when he got out of the surf to find my Dad waiting to tell him I had fallen… again.

Back at home, I was in a complete state of disbelief. I felt ill in the stomach from the familiar sickening pain coming from the leg and I was shaking so much from the shock that I could barely speak.

Kai who was five lept into action. He put a beanbag under my head and covered me with a blanket. Sammy who was two, sat next to me on the floor patting me and saying “you OK Mummy? Mummy you OK?”

“I think we need an ambulance” I mumbled to Kai, and bless that little guy he grabbed the phone and dialled 000.

He then went and checked that Flynn was still OK upstairs and then waited at the front door to let the ambulance officers into the house and show them where I was.

He was so calm and knew instinctively what to do. He really will make the most amazing Doctor one day.

So it turned out pretty much how we expected - my good leg was now screwed and required reconstruction. Thankfully we already had the best Doctor I could ever wish for on our team and I had complete faith in him that he could do once again what he had done for us before. I mean, this was my good leg so surely it would be easier to fix than the other one right?

What I hadn't thought about was the rehabilitation side of things. I had no idea how hard it would be to get back on your feet when both of your legs are stuffed.

But our awesome team got to work. Our surgeon screwed everything back together, grafting muscle and bone to rebuild a functioning leg. Our physio pushed me to my limits but knew when to stop and let me cry it out. And my chiropractor gave my twisted spine relief whenever I needed it. 

I am still completely in awe of that team. Not once did they ever give up on me or give us any reason to doubt that we could do it again.

And Carl… oh Carl. Have I told you all how truly blessed I am to have that man in my life? 

I mean I could tell you a zillion times and it would not do him justice. People always tend to feel sorry for the person who has the accident or is going through something traumatic, but the ones we should really feel for are the loved ones who support that person through it all. 

Man they are heroes.

Once again Carl took the reigns and he was Mum, Dad, carer, cook, chauffeur, nurse and cleaner. He quit his job so that he could care for us all, including our 3 month old baby. 

We were quite the sight. Because it was such a production to get around with the wheelchair and 3 little ones, the rehab team would come to our house daily to work with me. It was easier that way, but holy smokes it meant that there were days where we felt like caged animals. So once a week, Carl would pack us all up and take us to the local shops where we were pretty much a five man travelling circus.

Carl would push me in the wheelchair and Kai would with sit on my lap or stand on the toddler board on the pram and I would push Flynn and Sam in their double pram. 

It was hilarious and people would stop in their tracks and stare at us and even take photos on their phone as we ploughed our way through like a multi carriage train.

Sometimes people felt sorry for us and offered to help, but most of the time people saw we were laughing and just laughed along with us. We much preferred the laughing over any sympathy. Sympathy doesn't help anyone, but laughter? That shit is good for the soul.

I honestly don’t know how we would have survived it all without Carl. I will be grateful to eternity and beyond for that precious man. My boys are so blessed to have him as their Dad, I am even more blessed to have him as my husband and best friend.

Not once did he complain. Seriously, not once. 

He literally did everything and more, including coaching the kids soccer team, helping out my parents and our friends with everything and anything, looking after other people kids in the holidays and after school and he even volunteered as the handy man at our preschool. 

If you think I sound like I am bragging a little on his behalf, you are right. I totally am. Because he wouldn’t brag, not even for a moment as he is the most humble and down to earth guy you could meet. 

I was the proudest woman alive the day he was chosen as a finalist in the NSW Community Father of the Year Awards at Parliament house. 

A month after the accident I came off maternity leave and started working again from home. It was pointless me being on maternity leave given that Carl was now a full time carer and besides I was pretty much useless. A fat lot of good I was as a mother when I couldn't get up to tend to my children, couldn't protect them from danger and couldn't go to them or pick them up if they were hurt or just needed reassurance. 

I started piling on the weight. Not surprising given I was sitting on my ass in a wheelchair all day and at night I sat on my ass and drank bourbon.

I don’t know when the laughter stopped. It was there one day and then it kind of just disappeared. 

We were embroiled in a court case over the accident and things were starting to heat up. The other side were sending us to Doctor after Doctor to be reviewed and scrutinised. We travelled all over Sydney where I was stripped to my undies by unsympathetic Doctors who didn't know me and didn't really care. 

Just like when I was that 15 year old girl, I was prodded and poked by these strangers as they tried to downplay the damage they were reporting on. I had opposing psychologists that would reduce me to tears like they were trying to get me to say it was all just an act, I wasn't really injured and I was just making it all up.

They were just doing their job.

We had private investigators following us on and off filming me whenever we left the house. I felt trapped both physically and emotionally and it was awful, soul crushingly awful.

On numerous occasions I threatened to pull the plug on the lawsuit. I never wanted to go through it in the first place and it was only after my family pointed out to me how selfish I was being by allowing Carl and our boys to be financially crippled by this accident and our ongoing costs that I agreed to take action. 

But I felt like I was constantly being punished for that decision every time the opposing legal team sent me to yet another humiliating meeting with one of their legal Docs. But that's the game. They want you to feel beaten and worn out and exhausted, because if you've had enough and call it quits - they win. 

There are no personal feelings involved. It’s just how it works.

Almost a year after the accident I was back on my feet with the use of a walking stick. If I sound less than enthusiastic this time, it is because I honestly just wasn't that excited. I apologise as I know how God damn ungrateful that sounds, but I was over it all and just wanted our life to go back to normal.

In a bid for normality I returned to the office with the use of my dreaded attention drawing walking stick. I hated that stick and everything it represented. I hated it almost as much as I hated the agonising hour long drive to work each day.

By the time I arrive at the office my legs were like tree trunks and would be having nerve and muscle spasms. I refused to take the pain killers at work as they made me groggy and caused me to slur my words. You know, just what every corporate work place needs - a resident slurring cripple. 

And so I'd work through until lunchtime and then often I would escape to the car park where I would lie in the back of my car and sleep. The alarm on my phone would wake me after 30 minutes and I would go back upstairs and continue working, often much longer than normal work hours as I was procrastinating about the drive home.

When I was at home, all I ever wanted to do was sleep. Sleep provided the much needed peace I was craving and when I was asleep there was no pain, no accident and no law suit. Just peaceful codeine induced sleep.

I went to pain clinics and listened to them tell me about various programs I could go on which included a combination of cognitive therapy, pain killers and nerve block injections (kind of like epidurals) which would numb my legs. Totally useless if you need to drive to work each day or hold out any hope of being at least a semi useless wife and mother. And so I said thanks but no thanks and continued with my daytime Panadol and nightly pain killers and sleeping tablets.

I was turning into one cranky big stressed out bundle of nerves. 

I was more miserable than I had ever been in my life and all I wanted to do was sleep. 

More than ever I felt fat and ugly and useless. I worried that Carl would one day wake up and decide he had had enough of me and leave. I worried that my kids were missing out on having a normal mother. I worried that my friends would get sick of me not wanting to leave the house and give up on me. I worried that somehow we would lose the court case and end up owing thousands and thousands in legal fees and medical bills. I worried we would lose our home.

But I was good at putting on a smile and faking it. At home, at work and everywhere, I wore the biggest fattest fakest smile I could muster.

You can only fake it so long before the cracks begin to appear, and appear they did. More and more I withdrew from everyone close to me, my husband and family included. 

One morning on the day of yet another legal appointment with a Doctor from the opposing side, I walked my kids into school. They ran ahead as I shuffled along with my walking stick smiling at everyone I made eye contact with. A mum I knew walked up next to me and said “It’s always so nice to see you at school Sonia, you always look so happy.” I rewarded her with the big smile she was expecting, kissed the boys good bye and headed back to my car where I sat and sobbed for Lord knows how long.

I don’t recall much about the appointment that day, but I do remember shaking in the passenger seat the whole hour long drive home. I don’t think I spoke to Carl at all during that drive. I just sat and stared numbly out the window while I shaked.

When we arrived home, we were met with a big fat pile of legal documents I was expected to read through and sign. I carried the documents out to the table in the garden where Carl was sitting. He looked at me curiously like he was waiting for me to say something and then it happened... 

I started shaking to the point that I couldn't hold anything.  I dropped the documents and I began to wail. I was overcome by an inconsolable hopelessness unlike anything I had ever felt before and in one single moment I let go. 

All the different versions that ever existed of me, the daughter, the friend, the tough girl, the lonely girl, the glowing bride, the besotted mother, the smiley school mum, the business woman… they all disappeared in a breath and were replaced by a sad empty shaking shell.

My fight was gone and I was spent.

We were officially at rock bottom.