Life-threatening accident now a story of inspiration

SURVIVOR: Buderim man Darron Eastwell spent a week in a coma after a major fall in Tewantin. His book has been invaluable to his comeback trail.
SURVIVOR: Buderim man Darron Eastwell spent a week in a coma after a major fall in Tewantin. His book has been invaluable to his comeback trail. Studio Republic

IMAGINE being told a horrifying story about someone else, then finding out it is about you.

That's how Darron Eastwell describes the fateful day he cannot remember. The Sunshine Coast man has no memory of the accident that put him in a week-long coma.

He was a career banker and mountain biking fanatic but in May 2015 his life was thrown off tangent. He went on the ride of his life and almost didn't survive.

Mr Eastwell was riding alone when he was found trackside at the Tewantin National Park falling in and out of consciousness.

His situation was life-threatening and he was transported to Nambour Hospital ICU. He was in a coma for seven days with a fractured skull, neck, vertebrae and a severe brain injury.

When he woke up, with his family at his bedside, he was diagnosed with severe post traumatic amnesia. His recovery has been punishing.

"I can't drive, all my senses are different. No sense of smell, limited taste, sometimes my hearing can be very good or very bad," Mr Eastwell said two and a half years on.

"I still get headaches and feel foggy all the time, like I am constantly living with a concussion. Have to have reminders on my phone as I lose track of the time.

"Basically my long-term memories like my childhood are there but the day-to-day stuff is forgotten easily."

He has no memory of the six months that followed the accident.

"They told my family I wouldn't wake up, and if I did, I'd be a vegetable. It was an 80% chance, so in that sense I proved them wrong," the father of two said.

"My kids saw me at my worst, not thinking their dad would come back.

"I was a career man. A bank for 25 years and a successful one. Now my wife has to work.

"Work and family used to be my main priorities, now it is family one, two, three, four."

Part of his two-year rehabilitation process was to write down thoughts, information - anything to help build memory.

Every word he put on paper helped his memory but at the start he had to learn how to write all over again.

"I'd used a keyboard and computer for 20 years but I couldn't type, so for starters I had to write everything down," the Buderim dad said.

"Everything took so long and it was very hard. I'd just write what I was thinking about - how I didn't understand anything that happened.

"One thing led to another."

Determined to not wallow away in self pity, Mr Eastwell wanted to let other brain injury survivors know his story.

He was tracked down by a fellow survivor, David Grant from the United States.

So inspiring and compelling was his story, it has been turned into a book - The Day I Broke My Brain.

"It never started out as a book, it was just my thoughts in diary form," Mr Eastwell said.

"It was just all part of my rehab but one thing led to another and we published it.

"I had about 12 months of dairy notes which I had to turn into book format. That alone took about two months. But it was worth it."

Now 43, Mr Eastwell hopes to one day be strong enough to re-enter the workplace, he has changed his diet, changed his life, learned guitar and has begun public speaking.

Topics:  author brain injury editors picks mountain bike accident

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