Today I am grateful that I spoke at the HeARTfelt Dinner on Friday night. It was a dinner to raise funds for the Burns, Critical Care and Trauma Research Centre at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Today I am grateful for all the publicity leading up to the dinner. I was interviewed by a journalist for the Westside News and had my photo in the Westside News.
Steve Austin and I.
I had an article in She Brisbane about what happened also.
All the talking I have done has been very cathartic and a very worthwhile process. I do not want to talk about my accident anymore. It is time to move on. If you would like to donate to the Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Unit please do so on the website www.rbwhfoundation.com.au.
Here is a copy of my speech if you are interested in reading:
Good evening ladies and gentleman and thank-you Mr. Hickey for that lovely introduction.
Tonight I would like to tell you a little bit about myself and the experience I had at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
I am a wife and mother and an avid bike rider.
I have had a very long association with the Royal Brisbane Hospital. My father is a vascular surgeon who worked at the Royal and as a little girl I remember answering the phone when nurses from the hospital called to report on patients. On Sunday mornings I would often accompany Dad on his rounds and at Christmas time I would come up with Dad and visit those patients who were unlucky enough to be in hospital on Christmas Day. When I finished school I started my nursing training on the 6th January 1985 at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I was a hospital-trained nurse and then stayed on at the Royal as a registered nurse. I worked there for 10 years.
I loved the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I loved coming up with Dad to visit patients. I loved my nursing training. I loved working as a Registered Nurse on the wards. I never thought I would be a patient in the Royal. I never thought I would see Intensive Care from the view of an intensive care bed.
I didn’t expect to be in intensive care in a public hospital because I have private health care and I take care of my health. I ride a bike for fitness, companionship and for fun. I have always considered myself a safe bike rider. I ride in a group. I am careful to choose riders that follow the road rules (I am not one of those bike riders who doesn’t stop at stop signs or red lights). I keep my bike in good working order. Over the years I have done sessions to improve my bike handling skills. But accidents still happen. Despite all my best intentions I ended up at the Royal Brisbane Hospital Emergency in June 2015.
On the a cold morning in June, 2015 I went out for a bike ride with my friends to Mt Glorious. It is a long climb to the top of the mountain, we all made it safely and stopped for the reward – a well-earned coffee.
This was our group just after a cup of coffee on the top of Mt Glorious.
A few minutes after this photo I crashed my bike and was rushed to the Royal Brisbane Hospital due to my injuries. I was descending a very steep hill and lost control and crashed into a barrier. I had a lot of pain in my left hand side. The only external injuries I had were a little graze on my knee.
Me on a stretcher getting into the ambulance.
When I came into Accident and Emergency that day I had been put into a neck brace at the sight of the accident and treated as if I had head and neck injuries. I can remember looking at the monitor in the ambulance thinking I am bleeding from somewhere. Once I came into Emergency I was taken for scans to assess the extent of my injuries. The scans showed that I had a belly full of blood, a renal artery that was bleeding and had no kidney attached and because of the amount of blood they were unaware if I was bleeding from other injuries. The staff had to make a decision quickly about what to do. I was taken to theatre and opened up from pretty much neck to knee. I had a kidney that was in pieces in my belly, a torn spleen, a bruised bowel, fractures in my back, a fractured arm, a punctured lung and, fractured ribs. I had my destroyed kidney removed, my spleen glued up, my bowel inspected and put back into my belly, my arm splinted, and a band-aid put on my knee. I spent a night in Intensive Care. Many of the medical people who looked after me have stressed that I could easily have died the morning of the 10th June. I then had three weeks recovering at the Royal.
This is the first morning after the accident.
All the staff at the Royal Brisbane was amazing. . The medical care was amazing – the medical team saved my life. The team in Accident and Emergency assessed the situation accurately and coordinated an expert team very quickly. All the people I came in contact with treated me with respect and compassion. I had six teams of doctors. A urology team, a surgical team, an orthopedic team, a vascular team, a pain team and a trauma team cared me for. Nurses, domestic staff, ward staff, cleaners and kitchen staff cared me for. One example of the amazing lengths people went to were – one day I said to the cleaner that I didn’t have a shower curtain in my bathroom so all my toiletries and pjs kept getting wet. She told me they couldn’t afford shower curtains in a public hospital but within 1/2hr she had found one and hung it in my bathroom for me! Everybody introduced himself or herself, explained what was to occur to me, treated me with respect and went out of their way to treat me kindly. I believe I received a standard of care that would be hard to beat anywhere in the world.
I have always had private health cover and I always thought in the event of a serious illness or injury that I would I would be cared for in a private hospital. One evening I had a whole lot of visitors and one of them asked well if the public system is so good why do we have private hospital care? My dad was there that night and he answered. Everybody listened. For those people who can afford private hospital cover it allows them to use the private system for procedures and illnesses that are not incredibly urgent. By using the private system the public system is not overwhelmed and more money can be directed to look after people who cannot afford it and to people who need emergency procedures and to those people with major trauma and other emergencies.
The Royal is a major teaching hospital and is a world leader in research and education for providing the best possible patient outcomes. I had the best possible care. I was treated in incredible facilities with the best technology in the world. I had the benefit of the research that has happened before at the Royal Brisbane hospital. As a patient I was interviewed by doctors who were learning. I was given nursing care by students who who learning. Hopefully the information collected from my care will be used to develop better care for others in the future.
It is research that involves patients including people like me like that allow the Royal Brisbane Hospital to provide services at such a high standard. It is people like us who are able to donate money so further research can be developed in areas such as emergency medicine, aged and acute care, mental health and cancer. For example the Red Blanket protocol is a label given to select trauma patients with massive blood loss, which guarantees them a direct line to theatre. Research shows that the time taken to get from the Royals Ambulance Bay to the operating table is 14 minutes compared with 94 minutes before the protocol was introduced. This means that a person is much more likely to survive. I was not a red blanket protocol but I was pretty close. I was cared for by the trauma team – the team who developed the protocol. Professor Wall who is in charge of the trauma team says most trauma patients require the attention of about 50 staff members during their stay. I am sure I had many more people than that who cared for me. The intensive care unit at the Royal treats 2000 patients each year with a 92% survival rate. I am part of that survival rate.
I had a long recovery at home.
I would like to say I am lucky to be able to continue to ride my bike, but the truth is I was well cared for by a team of experts.
Here I am on my bike for the first time since the accident.
Victims of Queensland’s worst accidents and traumas are typically transported to the RBWH as it is the major tertiary hospital in the state and boasts a team of medical experts that are leaders in their various fields. We all have the risk of a major trauma such as a road accident, workplace accident, fire, natural disaster or physical assault.
As I have said before I never expected to be a patient at the Royal. Any one of you could be in my position and end up coming through Accident and Emergency. If it doesn’t happen to you, it may happen to your loved ones, your friends or workmates.
I urge all of you to live each day to the full, be grateful for being able to come to beautiful dinners like this and love life because life can change in the blink of an eye when you least expect it. I ask each and every one of you to consider this and consider the wonderful care and research that is happening at the hospital. Your donation will make a difference to someone’s life and it may even be yours.
Until next time: