“I’m just happy to be alive,” says Greg Nichols and breaks into a grin.
It’s nearly a year since he had a serious motorcycle accident on the Tasman Peninsula.
After months in hospital, Greg moved to Caylea, a specialised facility in southern Tasmania where Anglicare provides tailored support to people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents.
Anglicare is a preferred provider for the Motor Accident Insurance Board, and delivers both short-term support and complex care to injured Tasmanians. The MAIB administers Tasmania’s compulsory third party motor accident insurance scheme.
“I had the motorbike accident on the seventh of March,” said Greg. “What a sad day. I can’t remember it at all. I can’t remember a week up to the accident, and from there on for about a month and a half”.
Greg owns a small collection of motorbikes and had enjoyed riding at weekends. “I was riding probably about 10,000 kilometres a year and the rest of the time I was working out on the water at the fish farm,” he said. “I had plans about going around Australia”.
When a friend visited from interstate, it seemed the perfect opportunity to set off on a bike tour of Tasmania. “He’d come over from Gympie to stay with me for a fortnight and look around the state,” said Greg. “That’s the saddest bit – that I spoilt his holiday”.
Greg has been told he lost control of the bike on a corner. “It is just bad luck. Such a fine line,” he said. “I wasn’t speeding. I must have just got off the road into the gravel and couldn’t get back on because of the corner. Once I hit the other side, I bounced and it set me going”.
Greg suffered serious injuries to his face, legs, spine and brain. “I don’t remember. I’m really sorry that I might have said something wrong during that time. Because you can say something and it’s not really you as such”.
“I can’t remember names, although some of my mates’ names are coming back to me. And my children I knew,” he said. “But so many words have just vanished. People look at me and think I look fine, but in the real world it’s not the case.
“When you have a conversation, it’s a different story. I’m having trouble writing and not good at reading”.
But Greg is making progress. Regular visits from the speech therapist reinforce that he is improving. “When she is going through the questions, she says I am getting better,” he said.
Greg said the care provided by Anglicare was “really good. Everything in that sense has been great”.
This includes regular outings and meeting up with family and friends. “It is quite funny. I’m really a quiet person… don’t go to the pub, don’t drink alcohol at all, and just a few work mates. But here, I’m going out for coffees, going to Richmond and all these places I only ever went to rarely. I lost a lot of weight after the accident but I’ve eaten scones today, had desserts yesterday. Fatten me up beautifully!”
Greg said although the accident has changed his life, he was grateful to be alive.
“The plans I had a year ago, the things on my agenda…compared to now…they’re very far apart,” he said. “That’s vanished in a sense”.
“But I’m going with the flow. There’s a lot to think about. Your children. I’d like to live a bit longer,” he said.
Greg said the accident had also given him compassion for people with physical or mental challenges.
“I never used to notice people with disabilities, but I do now,” he said. “Before, I was just living in the country, living my own life”.
He’s looking forward to a visit from the friend with him on the day of the accident. “He’s coming over soon with his wife and three girls. We’re going to have a look at where the accident happened and he can give me the full story”.
And Greg is eager to eventually return home to life in a small country town. “That’s where I feel comfortable and at peace,” he said.