Before Courtney Jones’ accident, she’d made a living from being beautiful.
Catalogues showed off the green-eyed Melbourne model’s slim figure in lacy lingerie and ripped jeans. She dreamed of becoming an actress, and even trained for a year-and-a-half in Los Angeles.
“I was totally convinced beauty was about perfect. Perfect symmetry and gloss,” Courtney told Mamamia.
But while on a spontaneous trip to the Caribbean, she was caught in a horrific golf buggy accident that left her without her right arm. The accident forced her on a journey to recovery that changed her view of beauty forever.
The night that changed everything.
Courtney, then 24, says she was relaxed and happy after a night out with friends in the Bahamas. The last thing she remembers is climbing into the rented golf cart to go home.
A police report details the crunch of metal as the buggy keeled over and the way she lay crushed and broken beneath the vehicle.
“I don’t remember any pain,” she says. “Just pressure.”
The damage was horrific: Courtney’s spine was severely fractured. Her brain was swelling. The former model’s long legs were torn and bloodied, her right shoulder crushed. Her once-perfect smile was filled with gaping holes where her teeth had been.
“My arm was torn off on the spot”
Courtney’s right arm was severed inches below her shoulder. A cut just a fraction higher would have slit her neck.
“I could feel my arm even though it was gone,” Courtney tells Mamamia, recalling the excruciating phantom pain she battled for weeks. “Even now I still do.”
The news from the doctors in Miami left Courtney devastated: the limb was too damaged to be reattached — and she would never have two arms again.
Learning to walk again: “I was very, very stubborn.”
For weeks, Courtney slowly shuffled to and from physiotherapy appointments, leaning on others and using wall handrails to stay upright.
She refused to give up.
“I was very, very stubborn,” she says. “Everyone was very annoyed at me. I wanted to do everything on my own.”
The former model made a pact with herself: she would choose to be happy.
About a month after Courtney returned to Melbourne, her hope and determination finally paid off.
“I decided, I’m going to let go of the rail and make it to the end of the hallway,” she says. “When I let go of the wall for the first time, that was a big moment for me.”