Learn how Lee discovered new abilities through his disability.
One afternoon in April 2015, like any other Saturday, Lee arrived home with his sons after their football game. Lee, a motorcycling enthusiast, went straight to the garage to work on his bike when he decided to take a break and rode down to his local convenience store. Just 500 metres from home, Lee was turning into a side street when he crashed into an oncoming vehicle and flew off his bike. The next few weeks would be life-changing as Lee and his family were told he would never walk again.
“It’s like life was pretty much over at the start,” says Lee. “All things run through your mind, but my first thought was my kids and not being able to do things with them. I was always someone who was really physical, and everything we did together had to do with me having legs. I felt like I was letting them down. How was I going to provide for them?”
Lee spent 11 weeks in hospital before transferring to Royal Rehab to start his rehabilitation. Although excited to be another step closer to home, Lee had his reservations about his ability to relearn his skills and regain his independence.
“I was nervous because they talk it up at the hospital. They tell you things like, ‘You’re going to have to do things for yourself, not like in hospital,’” says Lee. “My biggest worry was if I’d be able to fend for myself.”
Lee spent the next few months learning how to get in and out of bed, dress, use the bathroom, and drive a modified car. He spent every day building his strength in the gym and learning wheelchair skills so he could grow the confidence and ability to move around as independently as possible.
Adjusting to his new life was a stark contrast to the active and physical lifestyle Lee had been accustomed to, so his first introduction to sport during a hydrotherapy session gave him hope that, in some way, he would go back to doing the things he enjoyed.
“Back in the pool I realised I wasn’t going to sink like a rock. It was a light bulb moment for me where I suddenly thought, ‘Yeah, I can go into the ocean again,’” says Lee.
Through his rehabilitation Lee was introduced to Royal Rehab’s Return2Sport program where he has picked up key strategies and techniques for accessing and participating in beach activities. The opportunity changed Lee’s approach to his new life.
“I started rehab thinking my life was over, but it does get better, and you can lead a normal life,” says Lee.
“I didn’t think I would be able to do these things again. Discovering I could was awesome.”
Rehabilitation has been an eye-opening journey for Lee, who is thrilled that people with spinal cord injury can now explore and discover their skills and abilities at a place like Sargood on Collaroy.
“People don’t realise how challenging something like going away on vacation can be for a person in a wheelchair and their family. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience but often it gets too hard,” says Lee.
“Sargood on Collaroy is somewhere people with spinal injury can come to truly relax as well as participate in a range of educational sessions and recreational activities knowing their specific needs have been considered.”
Guests at Sargood on Collaroy can choose from an array of adaptive sport and recreational programs to include in their stay, including beach access, paragolf, cycling and yoga. View other activities on offer here.