Cyclist's long road to recovery after car crash
THE long painful road to recovery continues for Coffs Harbour woman Liesel Brown after she suffered horrific injuries when hit by a car while cycling.
On April 28, the 58-year-old mother of three was doing what she loved with two fellow riders when a car ran into them at the intersection of Aviation Dr and Christmas Bells Rd.
She hasn't been able to drive or even lie down to sleep since the accident due to her neck injuries.
Instead of lying down Liesel has to sleep sitting up wearing her neck brace for support.
Every bone in her neck was broken with the C1 and C2 fractured in two places.
"I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky I can even move. I'm just lucky really.
"The doctors said they hadn't seen anybody break so many bones in their neck and still be able to move."
She also broke both cheekbones, her collarbone, septum (in her nose), three ribs and her scapula in two places.
"I was a bit of a mess, really."
At the time of the accident she was getting back into running after major surgery four years ago to insert a rod in her back to correct crippling scoliosis. Always an active person she had her sights set on the Byron Bay Triathlon later in the year.
"I had tried all sorts of things to avoid the back surgery but in the end I had to have it done and the rod probably helped me not become a paraplegic."
In addition to training for a triathlon Liesel was also on track to finish her nursing degree by the end of the year and was in the middle of a practical placement in Grafton and was home for the weekend.
"I've always worked but nursing is just something I've always wanted to do ever since I was young so later in life I thought 'Why not' .
"It was a dream that I didn't think would happen. When I was in my 20s a cousin told me I wouldn't be able to do it because of the hours."
Displaying her steely determination she hasn't let that dream slip by and even sat an exam while still in hospital.
With the appropriate extensions from Southern Cross University, Lismore, she will finish her degree by the end of next year but has to focus on not getting stressed out.
"I'm just a very organised person but I have to be careful not to get stressed as I get knots in my neck."
Since coming home she admits she has had her ups and down but is thankful to her husband, three sons and friends for all their support.
Her "amazing physio, training partner and best friend" Kathy Ward has also been instrumental in her recovery.
A recent 'up' was when she took her neck brace off for the first time for a short pool session; but she still isn't able to drive as any sudden movement could put pressure on her healing neck bones. "I came home all excited but then kind of fell in a heap.
"I've had my ups and downs but the hardest thing is not being able to do normal stuff around the house. You think you're fine but then it hits you again."
Taking it one day at a time she's not ready to consider getting back on the bike just yet.
"People keep asking me 'When are you getting a new bike?' but I'm like 'Ohh that's the last thing I can think about right now'."