Phil's story

Bernadette Lancefield
At the age of 14 Phil was hit by a car and was in a coma for about three months. He was diagnosed with acquired brain injury and developed epilepsy and a tremor in his right side. When he came out of his coma he began the long process of rehabilitation. His tremor made it harder to learn to walk again. But he achieved this goal through courage and determination. Phil enjoys his life. He has taught himself to dance and goes to nightclubs. He has a passion for poetry and music. He loves sailing. He continues to find happiness.
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Bernadette Lancefield on 14/05/2012
Two large white sailing boats sailing next to each other

Sailing gives Phil a sense of freedom.

Phil is an inspirational man who has overcome many challenges throughout his life.

At the age of 14 Phil was hit by a car and knocked off his skateboard. His unconscious body was hurled about 50 metres down the road. A doctor told his parents that Phil would probably never wake from his coma, or if he did, would have severe brain injuries for the rest of his life.

In hospital, Phil's parents didn't leave their son's side. They took turns being with Phil and looking after his two sisters at home.

Many people heard about my accident and brought meals around to my parents, says Phil.

A difficult road

Phil remained in a coma for approximately three months. He was diagnosed with acquired brain injury (ABI) and developed epilepsy and a tremor in his right side. After regaining consciousness, he began a long and arduous period of rehabilitation.

He admits rehabilitation was tough. It was always hard to get out of bed in the morning and get motivated.

His family strongly supported him throughout this process.

Learning techniques

Over time Phil developed his own techniques to control his tremor. I reduce the shaking by dropping my right shoulder. When eating dinner, I steady the food with a fork in my left hand and with my right hand I carefully drag the knife through my meal.

Phil has overcome the challenge of learning to walk again and recently even completed the 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk at Mt Dandenong in Melbourne's east.

I recently did the 1000 steps with my girlfriend and she was very proud of me, he says.

Enjoying life

Phil once lacked confidence in socialising and was sometimes bullied. Consequently, he felt anxious when meeting new people.

But he's determined to make friends and enjoy life. I still get bullied but now I'm more confident and the bullies don't worry me anymore. I thoroughly enjoy going to nightclubs every Saturday night to dance and meet with others.

After his father taught him to sail, Phil went out and bought a boat. He also joined Sailability, a sailing club that caters for people with a disability.

Phil says sailing gives him a sense of freedom. When I'm out on the water, all worries disappear.

A passion for creativity

Over the years Phil has discovered a passion for poetry. I was motivated by listening to music and watching TV. I've also done a bit of sketching.

He's combined his interest in poetry with music and now plays a in a musical group that jam once a week. I taught myself to play the keyboard and began writing songs. I use only one hand because of the tremor in my right hand.

Playing the keyboard and writing songs makes me happy, he says.

From the eyes of the disability is one of the songs he's written that's inspired by personal experiences. This song describes the sense of frustration and helplessness that permeated his hospital experience. The doctors were great. I just wanted to write a song about everything I'd been through and seen, he says.

Overcoming challenges has helped Phil to grow as a person. He believes it's important to be positive and move on from negative experiences. And he has certainly done that.

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