Remaining positive and not allowing your circumstances to define you are just two of the many life lessons Kurt Abrahams (53) from Kensington has adopted since he became bedridden following a tragic motorcycle accident.
The only thing Abrahams remembers from the accident, which happened in the early hours of Wednesday 16 December 2009, is that he was riding his motorcycle and then he pulled over on the side of the road to answer a phone call.
When he regained consciousness from an induced coma it was a month later.
Medical staff at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, near Pinelands, explained to him how lucky he was to be alive. He was told that he was in a serious accident and landed on the opposite side of the road.
His motorcycle was destroyed.
Abrahams was resuscitated three times. He broke every limb in his body, had severe skin laceration, burst an artery, suffered a severe head injury. And he was diagnosed with myositis ossificans, a condition where bone tissue forms inside muscle or other soft tissue after an injury.
Since his accident Abrahams has undergone more than 35 operations. “Doctors literally had to put me back together. I was in ICU for two months and spent another two months in the surgical ward,” explains Abrahams.
When the father of two was finally discharged after four months, he had to undergo several orthopaedic procedures and needed rehabilitation.
Life as he knew it had changed forever. The once active man, had to come to terms with the fact that he would never be able to do any of the activities he did before the accident. In the prime of his life, Abrahams loved the outdoor adventures when the accident happened. He had a stable job and was financially sound.
He is now confined to a hospital bed that has been set up in his bedroom. Whenever he goes out, which is only for hospital visits, he makes use of a specialised wheelchair.
Abrahams says: “Once I got home from hospital the reality of my situation kicked in. I was the bread winner, so my family suffered great financial loss. This was really hard for me.”
He says he went from being the person who always gave to others, to having to ask others for financial help. “It is in times like these that you see who your real friends are and who you can really depend on,” explains Abrahams.
He says once he came to accept and acknowledge his new life, he realised that God gave him a second chance at life. He believes it’s only his faith in God that kept him sane.
“I told myself I have to focus on the way forward. Being in bed all day allowed me to spend quality time with my family; something I didn’t really do much. I became more humbled. I have to thank my wife (Vanessa) and daughters for their support.”
Abrahams says battling to make ends meet, he started an Information Technology (IT) business which offers IT solutions and infrastructure data, but says the business is not doing as well as he had hoped. “I just want to earn an income to support my family,” says Abrahams as he appeals to people to support his business.
Vanessa, his pillar, as he refers to her, says having to watch her husband’s transition from the man who he was to someone who is permanently bedridden, was not easy.
But she says: “Caring for him has made me grow. We have both grown as individuals. I am much more tolerant now, more patient. I have become more sympathetic.”
Abrahams’ advice to other people finding themselves in difficult circumstances is “be grateful for what you have, have faith and focus on the positive so that you can move forward”.