A Little About Me
my first life on Saturday, the 27th of May, 1972 in the Maternity
Ward of the Boxhill Hospital, and am the 3rd of 5 sons. As a
family of 7, we moved to Beechworth in October, 1976. I started
school in Beechworth in 1977 at the age of 4 & ˝ and finished
primary school in December 1984.. My Secondary School education
was gained at Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta between 1985
and 1989, achieving my Year 11 Certificate..
Cycling was my main joy, and also a necessary
hobby. If I wanted to go anywhere, cycling was the way that
I got there. I loved the freedom that it gave me. Every sane
person with 4 brothers needs some form of escape, cycling was
mine. It was not out of the question to ride 9 kilometers up
hill just to go for a swim (my second favourite activity), the
road to Beechworth became overly familiar and over the years
I managed to do those 9 kilometers in to town in a fraction
over 20 minutes, coming home was mostly down hill and took less
than half that, my record home was just a tick under 9 minutes.
I would also ride the 30 kilometers to Wangaratta on a regular
basis, during the last two years of school, I would often ride
to school instead of taking the bus. I've also ridden the roads
to Albury, Yackandandah, Myrtleford and Milawa, all nice scenic
country roads. There was nothing better than the open road and
the fresh air (and the escape from my niggling brothers). The
speed was always good too, the fastest I was clocked riding
was 92 km/h, which sounds scary when you think about it, especially
since I used to do anything to avoid wearing a bike helmet (such
as leave it in the mailbox at the bottom of the driveway), stack-hats,
as they were known back then were so totally "Uncool".
My favourite pastime ended as I was finishing
year 11. On the 28th of November, 1989. I was on the way to
my second last exam, after working at the vineyard that morning,
and then riding to Wangaratta and knocking almost 5 minutes
off my previous best time, I had over an hour of free time up
my sleeve before I was due to sit the exam, I decided to go
for a refreshing swim. I chose a familiar swimming hole along
the Ovens River, which runs through Wangaratta and in one place
flows within walking distance behind the school. I parked and
locked my bike, wound my watch and put it with my keys, glasses
and my neatly folded, favourite, yet faded red shirt in my backpack.
I then I kicked off my shoes and ran down the sand bank towards
This is where my first life ended and second
I slowly awoke to the sounds of machines, and
found myself in the Intensive Care Unit at the Austin Hospital.
While under heavy sedation from morphine, I found out that when
I dived into the river, I'd hit something submerged below the
surface of the water and had broken my neck. This break was
my first broken bone ever and caused a Spinal Chord Injury and
has left me a Quadriplegic.
While in the Austin, I resigned myself to swapping
my bicycle for a wheelchair. I spent 9 months in rehabilitation,
learning how to live again, and learning different ways of doing
those every day tasks we all take for granted.. With help from
my family and friends, I worked my way through Rehab and came
home on the 15th of August, 1990 with a new attitude, ready
to give my new life a go in the real world.
I changed my hobbies of cycling and swimming
to music and computing. I got my first PC in November 1990 and
started two finger typing. The first thing I typed was the Journal
I had handwritten since 1986. I taught myself how to use the
computer through trial & error, making many mistakes and then
having to find out how to repair the end result and learn how
to not do it again. I started at TAFE in Wangaratta in 1991
and have continued to learn ever since, my study achievements
can be found listed below.
In February 2002, I gained my independence and
moved into a 2 bedroom house in Beechworth. The house is not
far from the centre of town, (about 15 minutes by motorized
wheelchair), and allows me the freedom to get out and about
whenever I wish to. It is a cozy little house and was renovated
to suit my special needs. (There is a photo of the house in
my photo album). What's also good is that the block where Mum
& Dad have built is only about 10 minutes away, not far
to travel for some of Mum's great home cooking.
Living on my own has taught me to be more organized,
which didn't come easy for me, a self confessed procrastinator.
It means I can't always put things off 'til later (which is
a good thing really). It also means I can't get Mum to do all
the things that I kept putting in the "Too Hard Basket".
I've been in my house for over for more than 7 years now and
apart from a few reasonably lengthy hospital stays due to complications
with my spinal cord injury, there's been no real disasters.
I love the independence, and the social advantages of living
independently in town, and just being part of the community
too has many huge bonuses.
In 2003 I started working part-time with my
local shire council, and also doing a little "freelance".
This employment thing was a great chance for me to finally contribute
to my community. I'm really enjoying the whole "Work"
thing, it's a good brain workout, and working, even if it's
only part-time, is really great for one's self esteem.
On another topic, my Hobby site "John's
Aussie Falcon Cobra Site" which I started in 1997,
which was as when I first hooked up to the Internet, had gained
a lot of interest from the "Falcon Cobra Club Of Australia
(Vic) Inc, and through my work on my Cobra site, In February
2003, I was given honorary membership to their club and an invitation
to create their website. It's been a joy to build and maintain
the club website as it brings the fans to me. It also means
I get first hand access to all the stories and photos, and invitations
to all the events, how's that for a buzz... You will find their
link on my links page.
My next achieved goal was creating this domain
and organising a host space to store my web creations on, this
mile stone has since allowed me to help out some friends with
webspace and that gives me a great ego boost, being greatly
appreciated for doing small voluntary websites in my spare time,
another rewarding community service.
In November 2004, The Falcon Cobra Club Of Australia
(Vic) Inc fulfilled my biggest dream, The Club brought five
"Blue Striped Coupes" up from Melbourne to Beechworth.
We did a few things together on that weekend, but biggest of
all was going for a cruise in a genuine cobra, the grumble of
a V8 and the sensation of being pushed back in your seat, and
most of all, no wheelchair... (there is a full write up on this
day in my feature pages section).
In December 2004, I was given another privileged
opportunity, I was invited to show two of my recent paintings
at the ARMC's (Austin Repatriation Medical Centre) Art Exhibition
at the Royal Talbot campus of the Austin Hospital. On top of
that I was invited to be a Guest Speaker... So daunting for
some one who is not generally outgoing and self-conscious and
hates public speaking, I was nervous as all heck, but was able
to prepare and present a well received speech. This was rewarded
with a genuinely warm round of applause, personal thanks from
the organiser and another round of applause... it was so worth
while, but I was so received to have finished it without stuttering.
In 2005 I was invited to exhibit some of my
artwork with two other artists that had also found Art Therapy
to be a great part of their lives. Again I was asked if I would
be a Guest Speaker at the opening of this exhibition. It was
held in a small public gallery and was the largest crowd I'd
ever talked to. Again the nerves set in and as it was something
very personal I was speaking about, I had to concentrate very
hard on swallowing the lump in my throat... again, it was an
experience hard to describe, and oh so rewarding to have been
offered such a privilege.
The rest of 2005 was not a good time for me
with another long stint back in hospital, the one good thing
that came out of that was another completed painting and a catch
up with a few friends... but most of all it enriched my desire
to stay out of the place if at all possible. I got home just
before Christmas and was able to enjoy some quality family time...
gee it was so good to be home and living by my own rules again.
In 2006 and beyond, I have been taken a new
approach to life as a quad, focussing on what is important,
and what is possible, and keeping out of hospital,. it's been
a mix-matched jumble of a life, a very small amount of quality
vertical family time and a large amount of horizontal healing
time. I've unfortunately spent most of this time horizontal
tapping at my keyboard with a mouth stick...
During 2008 I was asked to help on a couple
of other web pages, and after some more work looked to be heading
my way, I looked in to the possibilities of creating a Business.
And so, after many questions and some helpful advice, I took
the plunge and did it. JF Presentations was registered in late
2008 and I now work on a few small sites, some paid work and
some voluntary, all very satisfying...
In the past several years I've unfortunately
had to put a lot more time focusing n healing, I've been very
fortunate to have a very happy and understanding client, and
so JF Presentations is still an ongoing venture, I also am very
grateful for my very supportive team (family, friends and carers),
and my computer, without it I'd be a very difficult person to
After nearly four years of hard work by a dedicated
team, we have officially healed my pressure ulcer without surgerey.
I've managed more upright days in the past year than had managed
in the 10 years prior... Being upright has given me more time
doing ordinary every day things. My body is again affecting
my out time, but still managing time with my newest project...
The Tuf Van... my severely modified Ford Transit... yes after
all these years I'm a fully fledged Ford owner iand i have the
biggest V8 in the family... woohoo... can check the blog about
my Transit here...
Anyway, enough about that, gotta do some more
work, and get the rest of this Website up to date.
Until Next time, Type 2 U Later,