Going from survive to thrive

Here is a story about to be published in the Warrandyte Diary – our local community newspaper.


Local Warrandyte resident, Gerard, fell while working at home four years ago. His wife, Sue, was only meters away and saw him crash through the deck railing. Even though she was so close, by the time she got to him, Gerard had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped.

Three neighbours heard Sue’s screams for help and rush to her aid. All four took turns applying CPR. Despite the fact that there were no visible signs of life they continued with the CPR until the paramedics arrived.

The paramedics were amazed. Despite Gerard’s obvious, severe injuries, they detected just the faintest pulse. The next challenge was to move Gerard carefully to the ambulance. This was no easy task. There were quite a few steps to negotiate.

However, with the assistance of the Warrandyte Fire Brigade and the State Emergency Service, the paramedics were able to transport Gerard to the Warrandyte Football ground. There the air ambulance was waiting.

Gerard was flown to the Alfred Hospital. X-rays and scans revealed that Gerard had broken his neck and spine in several places. The most serious break was at the top of the spinal cord. Rarely does anyone survive with such massive injuries.

After a series of operations Gerard was taken off the heavy sedation. The doctor, accompanied by Sue, gave Gerard a choice. His injuries were massive. He was on life support. He was paralysed from the neck down. The critical question was this. Did he want to go on?

Because of his injuries Gerard was not able to talk. Nevertheless, it was obvious from his animated reaction that he indeed wanted to go on. Regardless of the enormous challenges facing him and his family he had no intention of giving up now.

Gerard spent the next year, to the day, in the spinal cord ward of the Austin Hospital. While he was there Premier Daniel Andrews paid him a visit. The Premier was keen to see for himself the technology Gerard was utilising.

The Premier wanted to see how Gerard was interacting with his computer. Gerard was using Dragon voice activated software. He was also using eye-tech. This latter technology allowed him to use his eyes to navigate his way around the desktop.

Here Gerard describes in his own words the fiasco that unfolded. “The eye-tech relies on me being in the correct position for the eyes to line up with the computer. I had only had the eye-tech a few days so getting in the right position was quite a challenge. Murphy’s Law came into play. I had spent 20 minutes trying to get in the right position without any luck. The Premier came right on time. So there was no way I could demonstrate the eye-tech.

Not to worry though. I still had the Dragon software. But Murphy’s Law continued to play havoc. I wear headphones so that I can interact with the computer. But I had forgotten to put the headphones on charge overnight so I couldn’t use Dragon either.

Sue, my wife, and I went into creative mode. I acted as if there was nothing wrong, talking into the flat headphones. Sue stood behind the computer screen and typed as I spoke so it looked as if Dragon was actually working.

There was only one little problem with this subterfuge. I was talking so fast that Sue was paraphrasing just to keep up. The Premier and his entourage were clearly amazed at this very creative software. The Premier was obviously wake-up to what was going on and to his credit, played along.”

The Premier then asked Gerard if he have any plans. Much to the amusement of the Premier and his entourage Gerard said that he was determined to become a taxpayer again. For Gerard becoming a taxpayer again was his benchmark for measuring his return to productive work.

His answer was so unexpected and funny that he appeared that night on the Channel 7 and Channel 9 national news.

Now, four years later, Gerard is ready to return to work. Before his injury he had written 4 books. In these books there were over 80 stories about people who had faced seemingly impossible challenges. With dogged persistence, courage and some lateral thinking they were able to achieve this “seemingly impossible”!

When you see Gerard’s books you will immediately notice says something different about them. They have strings attached. That is the book comes with some conditions.

With the first string Gerard has flipped the way books are usually sold. With Gerard’s books you, the reader, get to set the price after you finish reading the book. There is a recommended price but you can pay more or less according to the inspiration and motivation you receive from reading the stories in the book.

With the second string Gerard simply asks that you pass the book onto someone else to read after you have finished reading it.

Here is what one reader wrote about Gerard’s books.

Gerard is a giant of a man whose life’s work included inspiring others to greatness.
In a punchy and powerful style Gerard wrote Standing on the Shoulders of Giants about great men and women who have inspired others by overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
In a twist of fate Gerard himself then suffered a disastrous fall that resulted in agony and great loss. Gerard writes of his own remarkable recovery, of what true grit and resilience looks like post such an event. Read Gerard’s books, and his blog. Pass on his remarkable spirit to others. You will be richer for it.

Tanis Cameron, Manager Tracheostomy Review and Management Service (TRAMS) Austin Health , Melbourne

© well imagine that 2018

As you can see I’m looking for people to act as distributors for my books. Can you help? If you can’t be a distributor can you suggest anyone I could approach to be a distributor?


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