The first phase of my recovery and rehabilitation.

When I was finally discharged from Flinders Medical Centre, it was clear that I wasn’t in much of a physical state to just go back home, AS MUCH as we had hoped.

Eventually, I was transferred from Flinders Medical Centre to Hampstead Rehabilitation centre, where I spent half of a YEAR surviving and just HOPING for progress and improvements.

My physical ( and mental ) status wasn’t exactly “ideal”, BUT their services and therapies were FAR from adequate.

I couldn’t walk because of SEVERE spasticity and cramping in my left limbs.

I had EXCRUCIATING neuropathic ” BURNING ” pain in my right arm, neck, shoulder blade and chest.

My memory was OFF, meaning I didn’t even remember what happened an hour ago.

ON TOP of ALL THIS, I had a stent in my right bronchus, holding my right lung open and fixed up to my body. This stent had complications, resulting in NUMEROUS hospital visits and Bronchoscopies.

I actually remember that during these bronchoscapies, just before I was put to sleep under the general anaesthetic, I silently hoped that I would soon awake in my bed at home, like this nightmare would end.

The same thing applies to when I went to bed each and every evening.

I just would NOT remember the previous day or what happened and where I was when I woke up either in hospital or Hampstead.

The next morning, I’d wake up to a blank slate. Starting from scratch.

Hampstead was by FAR the hardest and MOST difficult phase of my recovery.

The first steps towards some sort of normality were:

I started wearing normal clothes and not a hospital gown.

I began learning and getting used to sitting again.

I began learning how to transfer from bed to an electric wheelchair.

Because I ended up spending just under 5 MONTHS of laying in a hospital bed, immobile, my muscles had significantly atrophied, and I had SEVERE spasticity in my left limbs.

It was so bad, that nurses managed to squeeze a face towel into my hand to prevent my finger nails from digging into my palm.

My left elbow and biceps were so spastic that I would often awake in the middle of the night to find my left hand cramped and pressing into my throat, hence suffocating me.

I lost function in my right arm and hand because I had a brachial plexus nerve injury.

My left ankle was also spastic, whilst my right had very limited control, it was flaccid.

Although I was not paralysed, I had virtually no control over my limbs.

My vision was also impaired. My left eye was short sighted, whilst my right eye had suffered a nerve injury, resulting in no movement, rendering it crossed.

My brain couldn’t render two images, so it stayed closed.

My hearing was good, though, but I became EXTREMELY sound sensitive.

Any sudden loud noise would knock me out.

I would lose consciousness.

I also developed an incredible craving for food. I was always hungry.

This is a common consequence of being in a coma.

I completely forgot what foods I liked and disliked.

For example, I really hate Brussels sprouts.

But when they were served at dinner I would eat and praise how much I liked them and ask for seconds.

I was so mentally weak that I couldn’t have a prolonged conversation, I would just fall asleep.

If someone were to talk in my presence, but not directly to me, I would simply doze off.

I couldn’t laugh OR cry. These are higher brain functions and they were totally absent.

I’m writing this in such detail to show what the consequences of a severe Traumatic Brain Injury look like, and to tell others that it is indeed possible to rise up from such a devastating condition.

To be continued…

My experience of being in a coma

I was in a coma for 3 months.

Before my motorcycle accident, I often wondered what it feels like to wake up from a coma, when time has seemingly flown by in a single blink.

Whether my coma was medically induced or natural, I was unconscious for 3 MONTHS, laying in a vegetative state.

I honestly just do NOT remember a single thing from laying in a hospital bed with machinery feeding me and helping me breathe.

Doctors told my family that my future will either be laying under a tombstone or life in vegetative state, a coma, being fed through a tube in my stomach.

To my families joyful surprise, I eventually showed the tip of my tongue to my older brother. He spent HOURS upon HOURS sitting by my hospital bed, asking me to show my tongue or wriggle a cheek or just show ANY kind of sign that I understand and comprehend what he was saying. He did this in the hopes and faith that I’d eventually respond.

Then, some TWO MONTHS later, on one marvellous day, I finally DID stick the tip of my tongue and responded to my families prayers.

When I eventually regained consciousness, it was just CHAOS

My living nightmare

When I finally awoke from my coma, I was AWFULLY confused.

Because of my diffused brain injury, I initially had a 5 second memory span.

A couple chaotic MONTHS passed and I eventually remembered that I was in Hampstead rehab centre, although each and every single day felt like a bloody nightmare to me.

My accident happened on the 14th September 2011, some 3 months before my 19th birthday.

For the 6 months I spent in that God-Forsaken centre, I thought that I was still in year 12 of high school and that I was STILL 17 years old!!!!!

EVERY SINGLE day felt like a nightmare to me, like some sort of chaotic bad dream.

I COULD NOT wait to get to sleep every evening, because I assumed I’d wake up at home the next morning and go to school.

When I was still in Flinders Medical Centre, after I awoke from my coma, my dearest mother thought up and started repeating this mantra;

Motorcycle Accident Hospital Trauma Not your fault

She repeated these words several. HUNDRED. MILLION. times a day for the better part of 3 MONTHS.

My story

6 year anniversary of my crash…

The 14th of September 2011.

On this day 6 whole YEARS ago, at around 4PM, my life changed dramatically. I was on my motorbike, a Suzuki GS500, going home from University. I should’ve driven straight to my family home in Sheidow Park, but for some unknown reason, I turned onto Flinders Drive where disaster struck.

At a T intersection, a car didn’t give way to me off of the leg of the T and I had a head on collision with the bonnet of this car. I flew over the bonnet. My bike exploded. I was lucky in the sense that this happened next to Flinders Medical Centre, where I had several life-saving surgeries within the first few hours of my trauma.

Because I was transferred from ICU to a ward, it was clear that I was in my own coma, and not a medically induced one.

After I eventually awoke and regained consciousness, it was apparent that I wasn’t in much of a physical status to just go back home.

I was transferred to Hampstead Rehabilitation centre, where I spent half of a YEAR surviving and just HOPING for progress and improvements.

I couldn’t walk because of SEVERE spasticity and cramping in my left limbs.

I had EXCRUCIATING neuropathic ” BURNING ” pain in my right arm, neck and chest.

My memory was OFF, meaning I didn’t even remember what happened an hour ago.

After spending approximately 6 MONTHS in Hampstead, I had eventually progressed to a physical state where my dearest mother eventually took me home.

This is when my rehab actually STARTED, when I finally started progressing, improving and recovering.

Since that day back in early August of 2012, I’ve come quite a long way!!!!!

I’ve also flown to Melbourne for a unique lung surgery back in December of 2012.

My therapies involve physiotherapy and acupuncture at Back in Motion in Prospect, a home visiting Occupational Therapist and a Speech therapist.

After spending just under 2 years of practicing my walking with a special “Gutter Frame”, I eventually felt confident and mainly capable enough to ditch the frame and walk around the house with just a waist belt for support and insurance.

My first post – The Journey to Recovery

Good day, good morning and good evening my readers and followers!

My name is Dimitri Ostapenko, I am 25 years old and for the last 6 years my family and I have been on a journey of recovering from devastating motorcycle accident. Whether I like it or not, this event has divided my life into before and after.

Prior to this accident, I was a happy go lucky Biomedical Science student at the University of Adelaide, drinking beer on the University lawns and working as a supermarket console operator.  I had plans to transfer into medicine and I believe I was actually on the way to another university to enquire about their course when disaster struck.

I cannot remember my accident and in fact I suffered and continue to suffer short term memory loss after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Luckily for me, the accident occurred minutes from a major hospital. I was placed into an induced coma and my family was told to prepare for the worst. But I survived the multiple “fatal” brain and lung injuries much to the surprise of the doctors who treated me. The two years of my life post the accident were a blur of pain, surgery, amnesia for me and heartache for my family. After spending over 6 month in a rehabilitation facility, my family decided that it would be best to continue my rehab at home.

You could say that my mothers house has been turned into a full-time rehabilitation facility and her life into that of a doctor/physiotherapist/speech pathologist/carer.

The purpose of my blog is to share my experience as a young man in full-time rehabilitation, give inspiration and hope to families and individuals going through similar experiences and connect to other people in similar situations.

Why the name – no I did not wake up from a coma in Hollywood fashion, unplug the monitors and head for the exit in my hospital robe with my backside hanging out. Recovery often takes significantly longer than the hollywood script allows for. In my case it has been 6 years and I am still going!

Feel free to contact me for a chat, Skype call, Hangout or a visit if you are ever in Adelaide, South Australia!