After a swimming pool accident, Rhiannon Tracey was told she’d never walk again. Now, seven years later, she can walk up to 500 metres at a time on crutches. Here, she shares her story (as told to Kahla Preston).
I was 20 and on holiday in Bali when I had my accident. My mum and I would go to Bali every year for our girls’ trip, and this visit was meant to be really special because my best friend had come with us and she’d never been before. We were actually celebrating her birthday the night my injury happened; obviously the world works in wonderful ways.
I dove into a resort swimming pool that was labelled ‘deep’, but the sides of the pool were shallow. I hit my head on the bottom with a very hard thud, and remember thinking, ‘Crap, what have I done?’ Somehow, I stayed fully conscious. I must have a bloody hard head.
I was face-down in the water and realised pretty quickly that I couldn’t move, but within a few minutes my friend realised something was wrong and pulled me out. My mum had gone back to our resort at this stage, and she had to receive the phone call any parent would dread.
I was put into the back of a van, which was considered an ambulance in Bali, and taken to hospital. A CT scan confirmed that I had broken my neck and back, which rendered me a quadriplegic instantly.
Doctors told us I needed emergency surgery immediately. There wasn’t enough time to fly me out to another country because the fragments of the broken vertebra were piercing both sides of my spinal cord, which could completely sever it. If that had been the case I would’ve died.