Letter to the first NIISQ recipient

Dear driver, I don’t know you but I know what you’re going through. Today you had an accident that will change your life forever.

You are in a hospital and doctors may be mentioning word like spinal cord injury, blindness, burns, amputations or traumatic brain injury. Your innocence has been shattered and you’re coming to terms with the most mundane from the painful insertion of IV lines and irritating beeps of machines, to the loss of privacy as nurses tend to what would once have been private bathroom activities. And in the back of your mind is fear and wonder about what the future  holds.

I know these first few weeks will seem like a painful blur, between physical discomfort and realising this is your new reality- you’re not going to wake from what feels like a living nightmare. And somehow you’re dealing with your friends and families reaction to the news while you come to terms with it yourself.

How do I know, because I’ve been through an accident too- I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and became paraplegic as a child and am now the ambassador for the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland (NIISQ). However schemes such as NIISQ and the NDIS were not yet in place when my accident occurred.

So although it may not feel like it I also know you are the lucky one- well luckier than those before you. Because your accident happened after July 1st, you will be  the first person to receive support immediately without having to wait months or years for an insurance settlement. You will receive reasonable supports whether you or nobody is  deemed ‘at fault’ and you dont’ have to wait for court cases and investigations.

Over time once you’re stable it will be time to consider equipment, rehabilitation and moving from hospital to a home environment. For some even going  back to work.

This is where having outstanding support such as occupational therapists and funds to access staff and equipment will be a blessing.

If you think needing a wheelchair is bad, imagine needing it but not being able to afford it or waiting in bed 2 years to get one……or fundraising for 2 years to afford modifications to a vehicle to transport that wheelchair.

Equipment which may first seem overwhelming can be life changing, I am ‘writing’ this to you using voice dictation recommended by an occupational therapist as I was no longer able to type with my hands- these small acts combine to build your new life.

I know today your life changed, and you are scared but I also know while life will be different it can still be richly rewarding and wonderful.

With the right equipment and support over time your disability  wont be the focus for your life- I promise. As human’s we adapt to our new normal and shift back to focus on what was always important our family, loved ones hopes and dreams.

How do I know? Because while I’ve experienced what NIISQ defines a catastrophic injury, my life today is anything BUT a catasphrophe. I have represented Australia 3 times and the Paralympics and won medals during a sporting careers spanning 20 years. I became Australia’s first female paratriatlon medalist at a world championships. I graduated from university with two degrees, and passionately enjoy my career as a goal setting speaker and journalist, and working in public relations.

I’ve loved and been loved. I’m Part of a loving family and have amazing friends. While there are hard times, there’s always something to loo forwards to. So while everyones injury and situation is different, and  I don’t know you and your dreams, I do know with some creative thinking and the care and support you need you are on the road to creating a ‘new you’ and ‘new life’ and that you are the one in charge of deciding how that will look.

That is why one of the proudest things I’ve done since my accident is become an ambassador for NIISQ, because now ALL Queensanders will have this opportunity many didn’t before.

My heart goes out to you, and while I know I’ve never met you and I don’t know you life will be different but still wonderful.

because I know mine is.

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