Back from death's door
TRAPPED in a seemingly lifeless body unable to talk or move, Garry Parsons resolved to prove the doctors wrong.
The 52-year-old’s inspirational story began in April three years ago.
It was a Sunday morning and he was home with his wife and three daughters.
“I was a heavy smoker, coffee drinker and alcohol drinker, all the things I shouldn’t have done,” he said.
“I suddenly got this savage headache, the worst I’d ever had.
“I just went downhill from there. By the end of the day, I was given a 4% chance of survival.
“The doctors told my family I wouldn’t live through the first night.”
Mr Parsons suffered a brain haemorrhage and a medical team in an emergency room saved his life.
But he sustained neurological damage which left him unable to move or communicate.
Mr Parsons, who now lives at Sippy Downs, was fed through a tube for two years and was moved between several hospitals.
“Eventually I was at the point of going into a nursing home because I was 50 years old, or trying to get rehabilitation somewhere,” he said.
“One nurse in charge of a rehabilitation facility on Brisbane’s Bayside took a chance on me, even though I was over the age limit, and I just did everything perfectly.
“I’m a believer that the mind can heal a lot of things.
“I don’t believe in giving up and if I believed everything they told me over the years, I’d still be in bed.
“When I got to the rehabilitation centre, I couldn’t walk, talk, eat, sit in the chair. I couldn’t do anything.
“The speech pathologist got me eating and talking again.
“The physiotherapist got me up into a wheelchair and walking with a frame.
“I got my eyesight back.”
Until then, Mr Parsons felt trapped because he could hear and comprehend everything going on around him.
He has written a book, named Savage Impact, about his three-year journey to independence.
“At one point, one of the doctors said, ‘You have to get into contact with his family because he won’t live the day through,’ but I had different plans,” he said.
“I was a victim of abuse at school years ago and, when I overcame that, I swore no one would ever tell me how I would live my life or tell me ‘no’ again.
“I had something I wasn’t going to accept and I fought from there.
“The hardest part was not being able to tell people how I felt, especially my family knowing what they were going through.
“But it actually helped me not being able to talk because I had to do things I would normally have wimped out of.”
Mr Parsons left rehabilitation two months ago. He is still in a wheelchair and needs assisted care two hours a day to get in and out of bed.
The former film editor, graphic designer and website designer said he was now back working from his computer and hoped his journey would encourage other families and victims.
“I wanted to write the book to give hope to families and other victims of haemorrhage to tell them it’s not always over,” he said.
“When these things happen, life doesn’t have to be over.
“I think you have to go on your journey and find out what you can do.
“All the way through, there’s a lot of photographs in the book of different stages of my journey.
“Looking back at the photos I looked like I was beyond help.
“Now I can look after myself all day. When they said I’d never able to live by myself again, they were wrong too.”
Savage Impact is available online at www.ggpfw.com or in bookstores from December 6. Royalties from book sales will be shared by Royal Brisbane Hospital’s neurological department and other brain injury organisations.