Thursday, July 5, 2012

A ....... is for Accident!

This post is part of A-Z all about me {weekly blog challange} over at 'Love Kate'!

That moment when your heart literally stops and your stomach drops and you feel like time is standing still.  That moment happened on Friday, February 4 2011 ...... a moment that changed our lives forever!

It was 1pm in the afternoon and I was home with Mia while Nikolas was at school.  My mobile phone rang, what I was about to hear would shatter my world.  On the other end was my brother's friend, calling to tell me that my brother Ben had been involved in an accident. 

Ben had been on holidays overseas with a group of his friends.  They were heading out late on the night of February 3 2011 {Thailand time} on their mopeds to the Full Moon Party.  They never made it there.  Ben was riding his motorbike without a helmet and crashed his bike on the road.  When his friends found him, laying lifeless on the road, they thought he was dead.  Once help arrived he had to endure a 40 minute speed boat road to the hospital on another island.  His injuries were catastrophic.

A few days earlier he had called me from overseas to discuss the cyclone {Cyclone Yasi} that was about to hit his hometown of Cairns where his family were situated.  At the end of the conversation he said "Thank you for everything you have done, I love you heaps".  And that was it, I instantly had a feeling after he had hung up.  He had never told me he had loved me before.  I was worried that something might happen to him.  Of course that feeling passed. That was until a few days later.

There are many sliding door moments that unfolded before, during and after the accident. Whilst Ben was being rushed to hospital on the speed boat, the only Neurosurgeon on the island was on his way home for the evening.  He was due to catch a boat over to another island where he lived.  He missed his boat.  That meant that he would be able to operate on Ben when he arrived at the hospital.  I may be telling a very different story if he caught that boat. 

Ben was in surgery for a long time.  We did not know back in Australia that anything had even happened yet.  The first we knew of it was that call that reached my phone.  I was told in that call that he was involved in an accident and that he had been in for brain surgery and was now in a coma and intubated.  Writting those words and even thinking of those moments tear at my soul.  After getting as many details as I could, I was then the one that had to call our Mum to break the news and then I called Ben's wife to tell her too.

My parents rushed out on the soonest possible flight to Thailand as they surgeon had explained he was in a terrible condition and someone needed to be there.  As a mother I never ever want to experience what Mum witnessed and had to go through in her time overseas.  Details that are just too raw to even put into words or to even share.  She thought that she was never going to bring him home.  She thought that she was going to have to say goodbye to him and that he was never going to make it.

The next few weeks were agony.  Tears roll from my eyes and down my cheeks as I type those words. I remember just questioning everything.  There were many days that I did not function well and my every thought was consumed with Ben. My heart had been shattered.  There were many nights that I lay upon the tiles of our kitchen floor in the fetal position gasping for air through the worst cries I had ever heard come from body.  I felt helpless.

His injuries should have killed him there and then.  Both sides of head had been smashed into the road and had shattered his skull. Parts of his skull were embedded into his brain and that had caused severe bleeding. He had broken bones, grazes, scratches, bruises and skin off everywhere.  During surgery they had to take out parts of his brain that were too damaged.  The parts they took were his 'personality' and his 'memory'.  Bone was replaced with titanium plates and screws in his head.  He would be spared with his motor skills.   They would return to normal over time during his long and hard recovery, if he made it.

After weeks of agony the doctors told my family that they could bring Ben back to Australia.  There is no way that I was prepared for that moment I first saw him when he arrived at the airport. He had stayed at my house the night before going to Thailand, leaving early the next morning to catch his flight. I told him I would set my alarm to get up early to see him off. He had woken earlier than planned and left before I woke up. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.  But the Ben that I knew, the one that got on that plane for his holiday was not the Ben that returned.  It was as if he had died and that another person had returned to take his place. It was devastating to see.

Many moments stand out from others in this story.  But after his return I flew to Cairns to look after him.  Him and I would sit up until the very early hours of the morning going through all his medical reports and I would try to explain the details to him. It was so confronting watching him discover all of these things as if they had happened to someone else. His memory was taken in the surgery and thankfully he was spared even remembering details of his accident.  Late one night as we sat there talking, I asked him "Ben, do you know that I am your sister".  He looked at me, pausing and I could tell he was thinking.  Slowly he said "Yes".  And he continued on to say "I know you must be my sister because I have this feeling around you".  "But, I couldn't tell you anything about our lives together".  And just like that, my heart shattered all over again.  And as I cried inside and held back my tears, I said right back to him "If you don't have any memories of our lives together, then we will make new ones". 

Watching him over the next few months was heartbreaking.  Everything was hard.  He woke from his coma that day and his entire life would be different. Nothing would ever be the same.  Every single second that made up his life would be changed or was going to change over the next year and forever.  Unfortunately not only was he having to deal with his injuries with further surgery, constant specialist appointments and the loss of memory but his marriage also ended right after the accident making things that much harder.

There are so many details and events to this story that it would impossible to include them all.  There are many more that I will never share and find impossible to put into words.

Ben before the accident

During his healing process back in Australia

Both sides of his head once his hair started to grow back

Many months later after under going more surgery back in Australia to repair his snapped collarbone.

They say moments like these are sent to test us. That moment, that split second, changed our lives forever.

This is a very small snippet of my version of the events that unfolded back in February 2011.  Unfortunately it is something that I still struggle to deal with to this day.  It is never far from my mind and has changed the way that I view the world. 


  1. My dear Cassie,

    I have goosebumps and tears. i remember when this happened. We were planning on meeting up later that month, us Evolve girls. You and I were collaborating one making something sweet for the girls.

    then this accident happened.

    I remember you 'disappearing' to take care f yourself and your flock. i didn't know you well enough to offer any form of support, but we as a group sent our love and thoughts to you.

    As time has passed, you and i are closer, and i hope i can be here to listen to the rest of your story, the rest of your families journey, as much as you want to share.

    thank you for trusting in this channel, this challenge and me to share this story.

    Love Kate xxxx

  2. Oh gosh, my stomach was in my throat whilst reading this whole post. I have tears streaming down my face right now.
    I have heard your story about Ben already, but reading it was so beautifully insightful as I got to understand more & see it more through your eyes & heart. That's what I love about reading blogs. Written words can sometimes portray a story so much more deeper.
    I hate that this happened to Ben & your family - so undeserving!!! I hate that I wasn't there for you during this tragically scary & sad time. I hate that something so minor kept us apart through something so major. And I hate that Ben's world {and yours} is forever changed & saddened. But I love that the new insight it's given you into life & how you live it.....very inspirational.
    What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow Cassie it's so different hearing about the accident from your point of view. Ben does talk of the accident and how it changed him. I didnt know him before the accident but I'm glad he is who he is today and that he's in my life. I believe things happen for a reason, whilst I'm sorry he had the accident and I'm sorry his marriage broke up, I'm not sorry for what ever turn of events that happened in his life that bought him in to mine. Xxxx

  4. Sweetheart. I have tears right now reading this. I genuinely can feel your pain. My brother too was in a motorcycle accident only a few years ago. It was SO hard watching him recover. I thank God every day that he was wearing his helmet. The scars are there forever though...thankfully he's walking and back to his old self. I can understand you not being totally over it. I don't think I am either. I beg him constantly not to ever purchase another motorcycle. I just know I couldn't go through something like that again. If you ever need to just talk...I'm here for you.

  5. What an emotional read Cassie!!! I can't even begin to imagine what this was like for your family! You have written about such an awful time in such a beautiful way (if that makes sense!)I hope things continue to get better for you all as time goes on xo