CELEBRATING LIFE – 10 YEARS ON

An interview with Heidi Edwards. It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since that fateful day on May 20th, 2010 when a dead tree fell on my car whilst driving on Old Northern Road at Forest Glen, just 10 minutes from my home. My two young children were left uninjured and I was left with a devastating spinal injury- quadriplegia. I still cannot remember the traumatic events of that day but I know I’m alive due to the rapid emergency response team and members of the community who were there at the scene. I know I so easily could have died but I’m still here thanks to their swift response.

The Hills community have been overwhelming in their support and are the reason I will always call it my home. Friends and people I had never met formed the “Heidi Edwards Family Fund” (HEFF) in 2010 for myself, my husband and 2 children Tegan and Alex. They have been my constant support financially and emotionally for 10 years. The HEFF fund raised money to assist me in experiencing a happier life eg. The purchase of a brand new modified van to allow me to venture out, a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2017 to the South Pacific islands, and to New Zealand in January 2020, a constant supply of wood to keep me warm, hair and beauty treatments to raise my self esteem, and the purchase of technological equipment such as iPhones and iPads.

The passing of 10 years has seen my 2 toddlers become teenagers, now 13 & 15. It’s been amazing to watch and nurture them to become confident independent teenagers.

In time my neck has become stronger and my pain, whilst still ongoing, has lessened to a manageable degree. Multiple Surgeries at Royal North Shore Hospital over the past 5 years have improved my function in my hands and arms.

My spinal cord injury occurred 3 weeks after I turned 40, I’m now 50. One fifth of my life has been spent in a wheelchair, this fact is difficult to comprehend and there are times when I find it hard to remember what it was like to actually walk. Living with a spinal cord injury and knowing I will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life is incredibly tough, there’s no sugar coating it. Ask anyone who has quadriplegia like me and they will tell you the same: you have to keep moving forward as there is no other choice.

My husband and children are the reason to stay strong and carry on. I know they need me here in this world, the dark days of “Why me?” and “What’s my purpose?” are answered when I look into their eyes.

I am supported and loved by my family, friends and through social media I belong to many spinal injury support groups.

Technology has improved so much in 10 years, the use of smart phones and computers have opened up a whole new world to me. A C5/6 injury means I cannot hold a pen to write but I can type with the use of just 1 finger reams of pages if I wish to. I’m excited because the next phase for me is “Home Automation” through the use of Alexa. This will mean that my independence will grow in a massive way. I will soon be able to voice control many of my electronics myself eg. TV, entertainment system, lights, air conditioning, fans, customised bed. The list is endless. This leap in technology has been a very recent event and is going to change the whole of my family’s life.

It really is hard to believe 10 years has passed. I am looking forward to spending the coming years with my family knowing that I will be with them every step of the way for each and every milestone. Life is short and I’m so lucky that it wasn’t taken away from me on May 20, 2010.