A LITTLE over 28 years ago, Prue Ditchfield’s parents were told their daughter would be a “vegetable” for the rest of her life after a serious car accident.
But Miss Ditchfield has only gone from strength to strength, something that has seen her honoured with a place on the Kameruka brain injury transitional living unit’s wall of fame as part of Brain Injury Awareness Week.
The then 21-year-old had moved to Sydney two weeks previously to take up a job with HCF when she decided to drive back to Tamworth for a visit in March 1985.
Along the way she had an accident that left her in a coma for three months, and a prognosis that she would remain in a vegetative state and need to live in a nursing home.
But after intensive rehabilitation in Sydney, Miss Ditchfield moved back to Tamworth to get on with her recovery and has continued to defy that original bleak outlook.
She now works part-time at the Tamworth Community Centre where she puts together the carers’ newsletter, and has previously helped out at the Cancer Council and the Tamworth Historical Society.
She counts learning to ski and completing an information and technology course through TAFE as among her biggest achievements.
Next on the agenda is learning to walk.
“One big goal is to start walking, just to prove everyone wrong, because they said I’d never walk,” Miss Ditchfield said.
Tamworth’s brain injury unit was not around when she had her accident, but once it opened Miss Ditchfield became what was known as an outreach patient and was included in its support and social activities.
Her mum Pat said her daughter had a great rapport in particular with longtime employees Peter Cryer and Darren Jackson, and that had been a big help.
She said it was a great relief to see the progress her daughter had made.
Miss Ditchfield said she was grateful to everyone who had supported her since the accident.
“I suppose I should say a big thank you to everyone at Tamworth Base Hospital for putting up with me,” she laughed.