The long, hard road to recovery

3 min watch

Julie reveals her battle for survival against the odds after the near-fatal car accident that damaged nearly everything in her body from the neck down.

On Christmas Eve, 2013, Julie (a Westpac customer and employee) drove out of her local supermarket car park thinking she was heading home to her husband Zach (also a Westpac customer and employee) and teenage son James. But life had other plans. The next thing Julie remembers is waking up in intensive care. She had been involved in a head on collision on a 100km per hour stretch of road that probably should have killed her.

From there, it was nine months of fear and agony in Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital. To date, she has had over 50 surgeries and undergone intensive rehabilitation to repair her broken neck and dozens of other bones, a shattered pelvis, and the removal of a large section of both her back and stomach.

This driven and fiercely independent woman found herself completely dependent on others for every basic function. Such was the damage to Julie’s body, even her rehab carers baulked when she arrived. She was in the worst condition of any patient they had ever encountered, and they wondered how they were going to help this fragile, broken woman back to some semblance of vitality.

But, in a powerful testament to the endurance of the human spirit, Julie persevered and has put both her body and life back together from the carnage of that split second that changed everything forever.

Fortunately, Julie had income protection and trauma insurance in order long before the accident. Not realising, of course, that she would ever need it or how much it would help during the dark days of recovery where it fell to her loving husband Zach to not only support his wife, but to hold their world together outside of the hospital.

Knowing the mortgage would continue to be paid meant Julie and Zach could focus solely on the mammoth task of getting Julie well enough to come home.

Julie returned to work part-time earlier this year and has authored a book A Fractured Life, recounting the journey thousands of Australians take every year recovering from horrific injuries following a serious accident.

Her greatest joy these days, she says, is simply the ability to walk.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst

It’s important to know your best options for protecting your family’s future in the event of unforeseen accident or injury. Speaking to a financial adviser can help you find peace of mind that you and those you love will be taken care of no matter what life throws at you.

Top 4 most important types of life insurance

There are four main insurances that will ensure your lifestyle, future and loved ones are protected in the event of the unexpected: Term Life insurance, Income Protection, Living Insurance (also known as trauma insurance), and Total and Permanent Disablement insurance.

For more information on all things life insurance, speak to a financial adviser or visit BT's protection plans pages.

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BT Protection Plans are issued by Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited ABN 31 003 149 157 or Westpac Securities Administration Limited ABN 77 000 049 472. Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 does not guarantee these insurances. This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and you should read the product disclosure statement.