Barry's a real Christmas miracle
THE greatest gift miracle-accident survivor Barry Rallings received this Christmas was remembering it.
He has no memory of last year's Christmas or the shocking three-car smash in August 2004 which turned his vehicle upside down and his life inside out.
He arrived home in Rockhampton last December after surviving the accident and a four-month life-and-death battle in Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Severe head injuries had left him fully paralysed down the right side.
He actually died "a couple of times'' during a 10-day coma and had to learn how to eat, talk and walk again in the hospital's brain injury rehabilitation unit he called his "prison''.
Described by his doctor as "a miracle man'', he spent a staggering 54 days in post traumatic amnesia before his memory began to return.
"He really is amazing,'' his partner of 10 years Pam Moss said on Friday as she watched him wolfing down a mango she had just peeled for herself.
Pam has lived and breathed very moment of his recovery, even moving to Brisbane for the four months he was in hospital there.
She described her feeling of joy in 2004 when Barry gave her the first sign of hope he might survive those desperate days when he lay near death in an intensive care ward.
She had been told by doctors not to get her hopes up.
"I was talking to Barry telling him how much I loved him and it was just the most amazing thing. He squeezed my hand,'' she said.
"It was a signal to me that he knew I was there.
"When he first opened his eyes (a few days later) I was over the moon.''
They were the first major milestones on a remarkable journey of recovery as his damaged brain began to repair itself. Barry has come a long way since then.
His favourite pastime is now tending his tropical garden and the trees he has planted in parkland across the road and as he watered his plants last week he spoke with the joy of someone who is embracing a second chance of life.
"This Christmas is special,'' he said.
"Last Christmas was also very important to me, but I can't remember it.''
Since his accident he has regained enough movement in his right arm and leg to allow him to walk again, albeit small distances.
Doctors told him and Pam that people recovering from brain injuries would see the biggest improvements in the first 12 months with more gradual improvements over time.
Though his recovery to date had been remarkable, given the severity of his injuries, there is still so much Barry hopes to achieve in the future.
"It's just been going so well, I'm getting better all the time,'' he said.
"Everyone has been telling me how fantastic it is. "I couldn't have done it without Pam.''
Before his injury Barry was a support worker for disabled people and now he is experiencing a complete role reversal.
"I used to drive the bus for people going to the pool (Allied Health) at Gracemere,'' he said. "Now they pick me up. "I was also helping to look after the pool. Now they look after me.'' Pam said there were 11,000 head injuries in Queensland every year and 400 of these were serious.
She and Barry urged people to be extra careful over the Christmas-New Year period, especially on the road.
"There are so many ways people can get head injuries,'' she said.
Barry and Pam will be driving on the holidays. Have a safe trip Barry ? you still have a long way to go.