The decision to not a wear a helmet changed Shauna Darling’s life forever in 1992.
She went from a normal 27-year-old who worked at an international hotel to relearning basic skills.
“I was out riding my horse when it was spooked by two dogs that ran out of a gate,” she said. “I fell off and hit my head on the road. I was spotted by a passing motorist and was taken to Hawkesbury Hospital before being transferred to Westmead, where they opened up my skull and put me in a drug induced coma for two weeks.”
After five operations, she spent three weeks in the high dependency ward before three months at Royal Rehab, where she underwent daily physiotherapy, speech therapy and learning life skills.
She had been with her boyfriend Enzo for five years at the time. He stuck by her and proposed to her while she was in rehab. The Dundas couple have now been married for 23 years and have two children.
Mrs Darling has adapted to the challenges in her memory, senses and movement.
“The right side of my body is still weak, I get tired easily and my memory is poor,” she said. “But it made me realise that I had to live life and enjoy every moment I have. You never know when your number is up.”
Mrs Darling shared her story as part of ‘Sidetember’. The campaign raises awareness about brain injury and raises vital funds for Royal Rehab and Brain Injury Australia. During September, participants will step into the shoes of someone with a brain injury to complete a series of 12 challenges that relate to issues experienced by people with brain injury.
Mrs Darling is forever grateful to Royal Rehab. “They saved my life,” she said.
“They helped me in every way possible and allowed me to have my dog stay with me.”
She was also keen to increase understanding for the 700,000 Australians living with a brain injury. “Most people are good but if you have to ask the same question two or three times to someone, try to be patient.”
- Details: sidetember.com.