Hello, my name is Timothy Ward. On November 13th of 2008 I was in a serious motor vehicle accident which rendered me a C5 complete tetraplegic. After the accident I spent five weeks in the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia then flew home to Christchurch, New Zealand and spent seven months in the Burwood Spinal Injuries Unit. Those eight months will forever remain etched in memory; it’s a different world inside a spinal unit. No matter how bad you think things are, you are constantly reminded you are not the only one going through this and to be grateful just to be able to move your arms. Things could have easily been much worse.
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME
Having my spinal cord injury in Australia complicated my situation greatly. As I had been out of New Zealand for longer than 6 months I was no longer eligible for Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) which would have provided comprehensive no-fault personal injury cover, as it does for all New Zealand residents. Thankfully I was accepted by a New South Wales scheme called Lifetime Care who covered my care and equipment such as chairs, hoist and bed. Normally someone covered by ACC would receive 80% of what they were earning before their accident but I am now only receiving an Invalids Benefit.
MY LIFE BEFORE SPINAL CORD INJURY
Prior to my accident and C5 tetraplegia I lived a carefree life. Travel has always been a big part of my family’s lifestyle. I was born in Durban, South Africa then spent my early childhood in Nottingham, England before the family immigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand.I’ve long held a passion for travelling, adventure and playing all kinds of sports, and been fortunate enough to pursue these interests for most of my life. Sport has been an integral part of my life; it’s something my family and I have always enjoyed immensely, developing fitness and friendships.
I grew up playing football (soccer) with my older brothers, our father often participating in our matches as referee. At the age of twenty-six I’d was an accomplished cricketer and played off a 13 handicap in golf. As a good all round sportsman, I would jump at the chance to give any sport a good old crack.
I had spent the two years prior to my accident travelling up and down the East coast of Australia having the time of my life. It was on Dunk Island, in tropical North Queensland, working as a cocktail barman that I met Jane. I decided to move to Sydney to be with her. It was a decision that would change my life forever.
MY LIFE AFTER SPINAL CORD INJURY
Being so sports minded and athletic, coming to terms with tetraplegia after spinal cord injury and everything I lost as a result of paralysis, has been very difficult for me. I’d have to say losing my hand function and sense of touch has been the hardest. I truly believed my life was over. I was very depressed for most of my time in hospital.
Today, nine months after my accident, I’m starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. And rather than thinking about all of the things I lost and may never do again, I’m focusing on what I do have, and can do. Taking on the challenge and giving it my best, as sportsmen do.
I’m awaiting the completion of modifications to a Housing New Zealand home before moving in. The necessary works include ramps for access, wider doorways and a modified wet room for showering. I’m also trialing equipment in preparation, wheelchairs, hoists and pressure relieving mattresses etc. which should make life easier and assist me in achieving greater independence.
Should you like to read more about me and the impact my accident and resultant spinal cord injury has had on my life and my family, I invite you to view my website tetratim.org where you can download my biography as an e-book free of charge.
Push 2 Pier — Held on Sunday 28th March 2010. Tim Ward is in training for the annual Halligan Memorial Push 2 Pier fundraiser in support of the New Zealand Spinal Trust. Join Tim in a 6km push, walk, or run from the Burwood Spinal Unit to the New Brighton Pier. Register as an individual or corporate team to contribute to this great cause. Register online at www.nzspinaltrust.org.nz