Heather Wagner – C4 quadriplegic

Heather Wagner – C4 quadriplegic:

19th April 2010
I met Frank a couple of years ago, and every time I see or speak to him he is so positive & encouraging. When I heard through a mutual friend that Frank had gone scuba diving, I phoned him just to find out how it went, never thinking that I was going to do it. He emailed me some info & the letters written by him & the instructors, & I cried while reading them. I was so touched by the impact it had had on everyone & the instructor’s commitment & dedication. Less than a month later I was in the pool getting my training!
Two months after finishing matric I was in a car accident, on the 14th February 1993, in which I broke my neck leaving me a C4 quadriplegic, and my boyfriend who was driving was killed. I coped okay at first, but the more time went by the more difficult it got. I thought, as everyone with a spinal cord injury thinks, that I was going to walk again. You eventually have to accept that it’s not going to happen.
It was 3 years before I seriously considered ending my life, but it was 16 years before I actually tried. I had thought about it so often & knew exactly how I would do it when the time came. In Dec 2008 I got my home care worker to turn me onto my side, as I have slight use of my left arm but no hand movement, and got her to leave a packet of sleeping pills on my bed. She didn’t know what they were as I had never taken one. At 11pm I chewed a hole in the bottom of the packet & emptied the pills onto my bed. I then picked them up with my tongue, but had to swallow without water as I can’t hold a cup or use my hand. I took as many as I could (about 37) until my mouth got so dry I couldn’t swallow any more, I just hoped it was enough. My care worker checked on me around 6am the next morning & found me unconscious. I live on a property with my parents & my sister, so she called them & they rushed me to hospital. I came to with a breathing tube down my throat & was so pissed off, & for the next 10 months regretted that it hadn’t worked.
I think that one of the reasons I battle so much is because I hate being paralysed & want to live life to the fullest. I was an extremely adventurous & energetic person before my accident, even winning trophies for athletics in Std 5, and spending holidays on our family game farm & swimming & bum-bashing in the Olifants river. This experience has given me something to look forward to! I’ve only just finished my training but I’m already thinking & planning all the places I want to dive!
Thank you Frank for inspiring me & encouraging me to do this & for doing it before me, my constant thoughts while I was underwater (& wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into) were “If Frank & Andrew can do this, so can I”. Thank you Zelda for bringing HSA here, & THANK YOU Koos & Lynn for taking such good care of me & making this such an enjoyable experience that I can’t wait to do more.