How NDIS support helped save Bundy man’s life
BUNDABERG couple Aaron and Donna Corr's lives were turned upside down a little over two years ago when Aaron was involved in what seemed like a minor car accident.
"I was passenger in a mate's car when he had a slight bingle and I knocked my head on the door," Aaron said.
"I didn't think much of it, just had a small egg on my head, so I didn't bother about going to hospital and went home."
Donna, who at the time was working shifts as a disability support worker, recalls they both had an afternoon nap after Aaron got home.
"A bit later he went to the kitchen and I heard the sound of something breaking, so I flew in there to find him fitting on the floor surrounded by broken bits of the glass he'd dropped," she said.
"That fit was a grand mal and lasted 45 minutes, the first of several on the day and many more since then."
A subsequent MRI scan of his brain revealed dark spots on both his left and right hemispheres, unlike most people with epilepsy who have scarring on only one side of their brain.
That was when specialists connected the dots with an earlier incident over two decades previously, a motorbike accident Aaron had when he was just 19.
"After that first accident I ended up having seizures at work and was put on medication for epilepsy," Aaron said.
"But eventually the seizures just went away and I was able to get back to a normal life."
Now 44, Aaron lives with Donna on a rural block and has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and severe epilepsy.
He joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) last year and since then not only have his supports vastly improved his life, they've also helped saved it.
"Among the many things we bought with his funding was an Empatica Watch from America," Donna said.
"It looks like a normal watch but as Aaron starts to fit it sends out cascading alerts to myself, his support worker Scott and our daughter Megan - and if none of us respond, it sends his GPS coordinates to triple zero.
"When Aaron has a fit he can stop breathing, and that's what happened one night after we'd had dinner. He'd gone to bed early and Megan and I were doing the dishes in the kitchen when our phones started vibrating and it was America on the line, telling us that Aaron was having a fit.
"We rushed into the bedroom and he wasn't breathing, so we went to work with CPR and brought him back. He'd closed the door and because I couldn't hear that anything was wrong, I probably wouldn't have gone in there for another 20 minutes, meaning Aaron would be dead."
Donna described the period after Aaron's accident as "sheer hell".
"Aaron couldn't work anymore, he lost his licence again, he was housebound and depressed and eventually became suicidal," she said.
"He also experienced massive mood swings and it was really hard for the kids to handle, seeing their father like that.
"At the time I was doing eight hour shifts as a disability support worker, five days a week, which can be pretty full on and then suddenly I was Aaron's main support on top of all that.
"We had endless hospital visits and specialist appointments as we tried to get to the bottom of things and I had to take so much time off work as a result, it's lucky that I had such a fantastic employer. It was heartbreaking for both of us, we only just managed to get through that time."
Donna said that since they've joined the NDIS "Aaron's mental health has improved 100 per cent, as has mine".
His plan is managed by Southern Cross Support Services which Donna loves for the convenience.
Aaron now has support worker Scott to take him out and about five days a week, a cleaner for two hours a week, and Donna has recently employed another NDIS participant to mow the lawn on their 7.5 hectare property - all paid for by Aaron's NDIS plan.
He also has an electric wheelchair, a push wheelchair, a commode chair for the bathroom, an exercise bike to help maintain his fitness, special cutlery and three Google home minis spread around the house so that he can ask questions if he gets disoriented when alone.
Most recently Aaron has received a new hospital bed for himself and a companion bed for Donna.
Beyond that Aaron receives physical therapy and has regular sessions with a psychologist to maintain his mental health and build his coping skills.
"Aaron has regained a lot of his independence now," Donna said.
"He hops on his wheelchair and visits friends nearby, he can take himself off to fish on the tidal creek on our estate and he's back into restoring furniture which he loves to do."
As for the future, like many others in Australia Aaron and Donna plan on doing some travel once the borders reopen.
"We're finally back to being husband and wife and with seven kids between us and a few grandkids, it's time to enjoy family life and do things we want to do," she said.