Will to walk again drives recovery
Will to walk again drives recovery
Simon Bourne after a 2010 accident in Bali. Pictured with his daughters Georgia and Alexandra. Pictures: Supplied.
Simon Bourne stares through tear-stained eyes and is adamant he will walk again, nearly five years to the day after being paralysed from the chest down in a freak pool accident in Bali.
Sitting in his Cottesloe Golf Club superintendent’s office this week, Mr Bourne is emotional, yet comfortable, as he rattles off his remarkable tale of recovery since shattering his C7 and T1 vertebrae and dislodging his spinal cord after “flopping” into a Seminyak pool to cool off on February 20, 2010.
He then tells how the love of his young daughters Alexandra and Georgia saved him from almost certain suicide as his marriage eventually crumbled and how his work on the greens and fairways, mixed with a new passion for horseracing, have been welcome distractions from his daily physical battle.
He also reveals details of his gut-wrenching return to Bali where a poolside ceremony at the scene of his accident helped him push forward with a more positive life attitude.
But, armed with a fighting fund of more than $120,000 built through the support of his mates, it is Mr Bourne’s determination to walk again which ignites his most compelling sense of passion.
He says he is keenly watching international progress in research around stemcell treatment with a view to making the surgical leap of faith towards getting his legs back.
“It’ll happen, it’s just a matter of when,” the 37-year-old said.
“I told Georgia when I was in hospital that I’d be walking by the time I was 40.
“I’m not going to rush into it, but when I have a crack, I’ll have one good crack at it whatever it costs.
“I can’t see myself going down the aisle of my girls’ weddings in a wheelchair.”
Simon Bourne is adamant he will walk again nearly five years after accident in Bali left him paralysed.It was 11pm on the fourth day of a two-week Bali holiday with his family and friends when a hot and exhausted Mr Bourne decided to have a quick pre-bed dip in his hotel’s pool after spending a day with his daughters at Waterbom Park.
He said he had drunk two beers just before he lobbed into the water and heard a “massive crunch” as his head hit the same submerged ledge he had warned others in his travelling party about just a day earlier.
“I just fell in on the wrong angle,” he said. “I hit the bottom and thought, ‘Ooh, that hurt’.
“I got back to the surface and tried to stand up and it felt like my legs were just floating on the surface. I knew I was in trouble.”
The post-operative trauma remained vivid, particularly the memory of wearing his surgical halo.
“They screw it in and then have to come back every day and get it to a certain tension, so it’s in there and doesn’t move,” he said.
After 14 days in Royal Perth Hospital and another four months in Shenton Park, Mr Bourne returned home to re-learn “the simple things” in life that most people take for granted.
Things such as learning to dress himself, sitting on the edge of a bed without becoming unbalanced and falling off, leaning over from his wheelchair to the sink to brush his teeth and dealing with the frustration of looking at items on shelves that he could no longer reach.
But it was looking at his daughters that provided much of the solution.
“The first six months seemed like for ever and you have your s… days, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“It was pretty dark early on and if I didn’t have the girls, it would be a different story.”
Already, Mr Bourne’s firm handshake defies predictions that he would have had far more limited hand use.
Surging through sciatica that makes his feet burn, he drives a modified car with hand-controlled gears and a purpose-built buggy for work on the golf course he describes as his third child.
This article (written by Steve Butler) originally appeared in The West Australian, February 14 2015