BREE Patton has one goal now that she’s free of hospital confines and on the road to recovery.
The even more determined 18-year-old wants to re-commence her secondary teaching degree, specialising in English and History at Wollongong University.
The horrific accident six weeks ago that left her on life support and with a smashed pelvis and fractured sternum is no barrier.
“I can’t work and I don’t want to sit around doing nothing,” Bree told the Post on Wednesday.
It’s music to the ears of her mother, Jenny, who was delighted to have her only daughter released from Canberra Hospital this week, a few days earlier than expected.
“Her determination got her through and having a goal to get back to uni,” she said.
“She didn’t want to defer and fall behind.”
Bree was placed on life support due to brain injuries for four days following the December 29 crash on the corner of Marys Mount and Crookwell Roads.
A Holden Calais sedan allegedly driven by a 30- year-old Goulburn man, Joshua Cady, slammed into her hatchback as she was driving north on Crookwell Rd. His vehicle, which was carrying three passengers, landed partially on top of her car.
Bree’s boyfriend, whom she had just picked up, also suffered minor injuries.
“I don’t remember the accident at all,” Bree said.
“I came out of the coma on the 5th (of January) and I can remember about five minutes of the following two days. I was on morphine and hallucinating.”
The teenager was not convinced until shown a photo of her wrecked Hyundai. For a time Bree didn’t comprehend she’d been driving.
With her daughter restricted to bed for weeks, Jenny didn’t think she’d ever get out of hospital.
But week by week, she has improved to the point now of regaining her speech, movement and appetite. Bree is walking again, albeit a “shuffle,” and has “her attitude back,” according to her Mum.
She will still have to undergo physiotherapy for her arm and pelvis. Full recovery is expected to take three years.
Mrs Patton is deeply grateful for support from family, friends, the community and emergency services.
Bree’s former Goulburn High School English teacher Heidi Malton travelled to the hospital regularly with reading material to stimulate her brain.
Another teacher, Sally Curry was also a “tremendous support.”
“The police have been amazing,” Mrs Patton said.
“They sometimes get bad press but they’ve just been fantastic in keeping us informed.”
The hospital became something of a community during the six weeks and the family formed valuable friendships. Mrs Patton said she’d been a patient and a carer but being the latter was “20 times harder.”
The experience also put life in perspective for Bree. She said she shared a ward with a woman injured in a Holbrook car crash which killed two other people.
“There are people who are worse off,” she said.
Nor is she angry about the accident. As she told the Post, “it happened” and there was nothing she could do about it except recover.
The teenager said she’d learnt to take things a little slower, including her degree which she’ll now complete in three years instead of two and a half.
At the end, which will include a Masters degree, she’s intent on teaching in a rural area.
Doctors have told her that while she performed well in a brain test, she would struggle with harder tasks for a time.
But with determination under her belt, her mother says Bree can overcome most setbacks.
“Her outlook on life after this is more mature because she realises you don’t take things for granted. She just gets in and does it,” Mrs Patton said.
“It’s a positive outlook and a can do attitude that a lot of kids don’t have.”
Joshua Brendan Cady was charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, reckless driving at high speeds and dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm following the accident.