Julie Metaxotos’ private rehabilitation hospital became her home away from home as she recovered from injuries sustained in an horrific car crash that left her unable to move.
On Christmas Eve 2013 Julie’s world was literally turned upside down when she was involved in the crash. After multiple surgeries in a public hospital, she was sent to a private rehabilitation hospital to put her life back together.
Julie arrived in a halo to ensure her spine was stable and would not be further injured. She could not move her arms or even touch her face, leaving her questioning her chances of recovery.
“Having a private room was extremely important to me. I was, at the time, very vulnerable and feeling self-conscious about the way I looked.
“I also wanted a space where my family could visit without sharing the room with other people,” Julie said.
The first phase of her rehabilitation journey at the hospital took nine months. Julie worked with a team of exercise physiologists from January 2014 to September 2014.
Her first exercise was to move both of her feet side to side while in her bed, then she started working on bending her knees, with the help from equipment and an occupational therapist. From there she had to work on sitting up from a chair to help strengthen her core muscles.
“In late March 2014, when the halo come off was the moment I knew I was going to get better. It was a weight that was lifted off my shoulders and I knew everything was going to be okay,” Julie said.
In time she went from being in a wheelchair to a frame, from a frame to crutches and from crutches to a walking stick, which she still uses now.
She was discharged as a patient in September 2014, but continued to receive care as an outpatient at the rehabilitation hospital for more than two years, working with an exercise physiologist on exercises in the gym and in the hydro pool.
She credits her recovery to the staff at the rehabilitation hospital who made her feel safe and comfortable during a time when she felt at her most vulnerable.
“The staff, the environment everything about it made me feel like I was as close to home as I could possibly get, and having a private room helped. That’s how I felt and that’s how good it is,” Julie said.
She became very close to the staff who literally helped her get back on her feet. She was finally fully discharged in November 2016.
“It’s really important to get that specialised care, that one-to-one, the time they spend with you is critical to your wellbeing.
“We were able to work together as a team to get through some really difficult and challenging times,” said Julie.
Throughout her time in the rehabilitation hospital, Julie worked on not only a lot of physical exercises to help her heal but she also had activities where she could let her mind heal as well.
Julie took part in exercise physiology, art therapy, the hydro pool and physiotherapy.
“But if I have to name two things that were the most helpful they would, believe it or not, be the art therapy and the hydro pool because they were the two that made me feel normal.
“Art was a form of expression but it helped me to heal in a safe and quiet environment and the pool because when I was in the water it felt like I was in a sanctuary, I felt like I was on holiday.
“They were the two activities that took me away from what I was going through a little bit,” Julie said.
On her last visit to the rehabilitation hospital there were tears and hugs, as Julie said her final goodbyes to the staff who had helped her overcome her biggest physical and mental challenges.
“I believe that you don’t know how long you will be in a hospital for and I would highly recommend private because it is a more comfortable place to stay.
“When you are recovering, on the rehab side, it just makes all the difference in a private environment,” said Julie.
Watch Julie's story here.