A Drug Bust Hoax & An Extremely Intimate Embarrassment (11-17 January)

Monday 11/1/88A Life in Words

Had wierd dream about muppets before I woke this morning: not ordinary ones: the ones (monsters) like out of LABYRINTH [see pic on the right] & THE DARK CRYSTAL. It was really wierd, but good! Well I got up after 8:00 some time, closer to 9.00. I rang Fiona & she said she had to work, but (’cause she rides now) I said I’d ride with her to town at 10:00 and do “nothing” till she had to work. She mentioned on the phone that Steven had said to her “I can’t believe she did that. Mark has finally committed himself to her.” [If you haven’t been following this blog, I highly recommend you read the previous post to understand this statement and grasp the continuing story, in this post.] Great Lissa; he commits himself & finds out this… he won’t ever trust me will he? I really struck out there (well… he didn’t ring me today either) [That sounds like you’ve resigned yourself to an end to the relationship?] So after that I rang Jo, then got ready. It was so windy! I couldn’t believe it… so hard to pedal… I felt totally immobile!! Boring in town: quick glances thru’ shops before riding back to Fi’s Newsagency. I decided (even though the wind was behind me) to catch the (12.30) bus because my bottom was very sore(!!) (Saw Crabbie & Kel too – didn’t recognise them in the car at first!) Listened to BAD on headphones while watching TV at home. A Life in WordsThen nearly fell asleep, so went in to bedroom and slept for about an hour… came out for dinner but could not finish it- felt sick again (see, last night I was feeling extremely nauseous.. very sick, but nothing would happen & I’d still feel horrible: I ended up going to bed with a bucket – moaning. Mum & Julia thought it was because of Mark) [….stress-induced nausea as opposed to an actual stomach bug or other physical health issue…] Thorn Birds is on again, so another late night … have to be at Mike’s work by 8.00 tomorrow: SHIT! I won’t even get to see if there’s any (hate) mail from Mark. I want to send him a bunch of roses & ask him to give me a second chance. See, I’ll have to make the first move, as usual. […so if it’s always the same and you’re not happy with it, change it…] Well, I’ll probably get to bed around 10:30, so goodnight.

Tuesday 12/1/88

I had great difficulty getting to sleep last night. After Thorn Birds, I listened to George Michael & also Terence Trent D’Arby [their entire albums, I would’ve meant] ..before crashing. [Stress-induced insomnia now too…] But I woke early … around 7:00 actually, to a phone call from Mike. I got ready, piled all my art stuff into a bag & got to GERNI around 8:15. About 8 phonecalls all day, one visitor, and mum popping in and out [to check I was coping alright]. I wrote a letter to Mark in the morning (wrote roughly twice before the good copy) and mum got the roses (ordered them) just after lunch, [again, my mother was so good to me… I wouldn’t’ve paid for those roses; it would have come out of her pocket and her only reason would’ve been to try to make me feel better …because I’m quite certain (although I am putting words in her mouth, herewith) that my relationship was a source of concern for her, since she’d (helplessly) witnessed the emotional rollercoaster that it was …for almost a year…] so he would’ve gotten them late this afternoon. The letter detailled my side of the story – how I didn’t intend or want it … and how he should give me a second chance. However, no phonecall [from him] tonight. (Except from CB- good long talk to her) I rang Jo today; she was just going for a job interview at Crocodilliacs. After her, ‘Don Power’ from the Aust. Federal Police called saying there was going to be a drug bust. A Life in WordsI was shocked – Mike & drugs(?) when mum came, she rang Cynthia, who rang this guy she knew, not from A.F.P., but Ray White Real Estate. (It was a joke!) [yep, gullibility is one of my weak points!] so I did my scrapbook for the rest of the day – left around 3.45. Watched TV at home. Am so bored- Fi’s working & Jo may soon be too. What should I do? [Um, maybe YOU should get a job too?] I have no idea. [To be fair to myself, I was thinking ‘bigger picture’: that is, whether I should study or get a job. Study would most likely have been undertaken in another town or city so I was probably thinking there was no point in getting a job there for one month…] Oh I wish Mark would contact me. What shall I do tomorrow, huh? Well, to be sure, I want an earlier night tonight. No later than 10:00 (12:00 or 12:30 or so last night -ugh!) So Mike paid me only $20: that’s disappointing, [hmm, twenty bucks for seven hours: that’s just under three dollars an hour. Mind you, it was hardly taxing work…and it was the 80’s…] but I’ve got to try and make it last (awhile)

Wednesday 13/1/88

No mail from him: no call in the morning. But I had a strong feeling he’d be out tonight. Anyway, this morning Sharon rang around 10:00 or so (a little earlier) and we decided, at 1:00 she’d ride here & we’d ride to crystals. Well, mum took me to the D’s newsagency [I’d left my bike there after riding in on Monday] & I rode home (really good ride!) and at home, did my scrapbook (lauren & tiggy & ‘the tribe’ [some younger girls in our ‘hood] came up & watched me for awhile- a bit annoying). [Not fussed on an audience, Liss?] When Sharon came, we didn’t know whether to go to crystals or not: she was pooped & I thought it was too hot (I was too lazy!) But we decided to ride to the Rocks & see if we’d have enough energy to go on to crystals. Huh! The ride took us more than ¾hr, but we made it (& the ink of pens on my school bag ran with body sweat so my shorts, shirt, towel, all stained.) We enjoyed our swim immensely. A Life in WordsThe ride back was much faster: 20-25mins (& we were dying of thirst so [privacy omission] a can of coke from the Redlynch shop!!) At home I rang Fi and CB. Had to throw all my stuff in a bag quickly & go to Mike’s (to give him his b’day present) Dougie was being very rude & moody & I had one glass of Westcoast [a popular brand of ‘wine cooler’ in the 1980’s]. At [privacy omission]‘s around 6:30, we talked, & I had a shower. Sharon came & so did [privacy omission] (←she’s really nice -hates [privacy omission] too!) Tasha couldn’t stay. We got ready really slowly. I wore my black dress, even though I felt like a real slut [I was ‘conservative’ enough to feel like a ‘slut’ wearing a slim fitting black satin dress… thank god I didn’t grow up in this century, wearing the stuff that girls do today…] (no one else thought so) […because, of course, it wasn’t slutty at all. I think I was feeling more ‘over-dressed’ than vampish. It was actually quite a sophisticated dress.] Sharon, Megan (we picked her up) & I went in the 1st load. Megan got asked for I.D. Keith & Nicole were there. I only had 3 or 4 drinks that night. I saw Mark & Chris & Steven & Cameron (who came up and talked to me – so glad!) [Privacy omission…but to understand this particular character’s relationship to me and the impact of our interaction herewith, read this post …especially if this is your first visit to this site.] came up to me when I was near the bar at one stage – tapped me on the arm & said “Thanks. Thanks a lot.” I said “OK” Freaked out a little after that, but was O.K. When we were dancing, he came on the floor & tried to lead me off. I said “what?” “I want to talk” “NO” “Just talk to you” “NO” I said again. A Life in Words“Well get fucked… fuck this!” (giving me the finger) I felt a bit drained [shocked: I’m non-confrontational and don’t cope with conflict very well] after this & went to talk to Megan. Found Sharon & I saw him dancing with Helen. I asked Sharon to see if he was dancing with anyone & she came back quite a while after saying “Mark’s coming over.” [Hmm, in hindsight I have to wonder if she actually told him to come and talk to me? It’s the kind of thing she might very well have done (and actually had in the past) because it’s the type of friend she was: she cared about me.] Great. I asked him how much he’d had to drink [not wishing to try to reason with an intoxicated person?] & I don’t know… we just started yelling. My voice was already giving way so we went into Smithy’s. It was long, very painful talk. He told me he hated those roses: they were an “insult” (he didn’t want roses, a letter or a phonecall… just me, to talk to him) he hated me & [privacy omission], but had forgiven us. .wanted to know what I wanted (second chance) He didn’t think it was worth it. He said how much he loved me ..how it hurt so much; he put everything to do with me away in a box. He couldn’t stop thinking about me though [privacy omission]. We talked about me & my affairs & he was very vicious. He didn’t want me to take blame, feel guilty, apologise – yet he said so many things which made me feel guilty. Finally ([privacy omission] had left & I was going to catch a taxi home with CB & Trevor (who insisted on waiting for me)) he said for me to go with my friends & forget, tonight, to apologize to Trevor (for snapping at him when he came to arrange going-home arrangements) and want tomorrow or Friday for him to ring & talk somewhere & tell his decision on our relationship. [God Elissa, this happens every time. Why was he always the one to decide the future of the relationship? Why was the ball always in his court? You let it be; you needed it there because you were addicted to and dependant upon him. So …oblivious.] So I went without saying goodbye (I must’ve cried so much – and he’d been wiping my tears away so tenderly, saying that it hurt him to see me cry)…

Thursday 14/1/88

At [privacy omission]‘s, Dean was flaked out on the lounge room floor & Sharon & Cara were sitting talking. [Privacy omission] went to bed & I did soon as I could, too. CB & I had a bed each, and talked (I was so tired) till about 3.30 or so, then bombed. Sharon woke me at 6.50 wanting to know if I was coming… [where to?] I said “I don’t know” and went back to sleep. She came in again at 7:25 & I said “NO!” but ended up getting up almost straight after, anyway. [Privacy omission] & Sharon left & I waited round after packing up (my white turtleneck strangely disappeared) white turtleneck top[Dang, I loved that top. But I’m fairly sure it turned up again: someone would’ve just borrowed without asking…] till mum came. At home, I nearly fell asleep on the lounge when a phonecall at 10:55 woke me. It was Mark. I said there was no way I could get there so he said he’d ring back, but mum came home about 30 mins after, so I rang & said I was coming around. On McManus St, the beginning of Faith was heard on the radio: an omen? Well, our talk was much less continuous: he couldn’t see the point of getting back together (like Fi said: it took him to get hurt to make him realize) basically he was afraid I’d do it again (Now he knows how I feel (felt)) in other words. he won’t be able to trust me too well. Anyway, we decided another go, but this, definitely the last. We are going to remain faithful to each other, even while apart (ie: we’re still “going out” while he’s at college) [oooh, long distance relationships are really hard work. This’ll be interesting, considering the two of you can barely sustain it whilst living in the same area…] so, I could tell he was nervous to touch me & I was, naturally, to him. But, lying on his bed, we eventually kissed: he was extremely passionate. But then it stopped (I was sure it had something to do with thoughts of the past ie. [privacy omission]) [privacy omission] soon made love.. .Sandra getting a shirt just before it and …SHIT… his mum WALKED IN (just after it) [privacy omission] she saw everything. HOW MUCH SHAME! A Life in WordsWhen she went out (she’d hidden her- inevitable -surprise & shock really well – expression did not change as she asked if I was staying for tea) [Kudos to her – I was so impressed by her composure, I’ll never be able to forget it…] Mark said [privacy omission] and laughed. I could not believe it, I was so stunned & WORRIED “Never coming here again” She didn’t know “well, she does now”, Mark said. He laughed – it was a big joke to him. Oh god, we stayed there for about 10 mins – him laughing at my worrying. Outside, Mr W made me stay for tea: oh the shame of it. [What’s that saying? “…I wish the ground would open up and swallow me…”] Although I tried to forget it & we did talk ..about Gatton I felt really bad [entirely uncomfortable] when Mark was out of the room. He drove me home (Paul came, too & I asked him to ring me tomorrow) I told mum & I knew she was shocked, [and possibly a little embarrassed …even for herself: the potential discomfort that may be present then next time she and his mother met…] but she laughed with me. So then I rang Fi, then Jo, then CB & [privacy omission], telling them all the great news (us being back together, that is) My voice was really bad then …Mrs W, Sandra & esp. Paul had laughed nearly all day at it! Watching cricket when Fi came down (830) and stayed, talking, till about 10.00 or so – I had a shower etc & got into bed at 11:00. So tired.

Friday 15/1/88

Well, I was woken at 9.00 (feeling extremely tired) by mum saying to take $50 out for her to borrow. I got up after she left & waited till 9.15 or so before ringing Mark. Thank God Sandra answered (!) […as opposed to his mother…] Mark was woken up  & it was obvious we wouldn’t do anything today.. I said I’d ring later this arvy. Then I proceeded to ring everyone else. Fi said we’d catch the 10.00 bus. Well it was 9.30 so I rang Jo: busy today said to ring back this arvy. And CB & Cara said we could meet them at 11.00 at the mall, but as I thought, they missed the bus (Mum took Fi & I in anyway or we would’ve missed it, too) so we walked around looking mainly for an Xmas present for mima. Saw mum at 11.45 – she took my card to the hospital [I had an appointment there later in the day with the orthopaedic surgeon who attended to me during my hospitalisation after the bus accident] so I stayed in town for lunch with Tasha, CB & Cara. CB & Cara didn’t show up so Fi, Tasha & I got sandwiches & sat in the mall. I went to the hospital at, just after, 1.00 and finally got out around 3.15. Dr Clarke was saying how they might be able to, in the future (far future) stitch up the scars on the inside, to pull the sagging skin together & give it shape. [And this was pretty much what the revisive surgeon did in Brisbane in 1990 (not really the ‘far future’)…] At home I watched TV and got quite a few phonecalls (well Sharon & Jo, anyway) before I rang Mark. Mr W answered (!?!??!) and he wasn’t home. So I watched TV and waited. A Life in WordsAnd waited. And waited. I swore I’d kill him (or punch him) the next time I saw him. Then at 9.30 I got a call. We talked until 10.45. It was a really good call (hated the bit about Nicole[?]: god I hate her)([privacy omission] was telling me today how much she hates her too) So I didn’t get to see him & he tells me now they might be staying over [at Fitzroy Island] Monday night, no, sorry, Sunday night, as well. Why is he not spending all the remaining time with me? Oh well; I guess I’ll have to get used to it. It’s almost 11.00 now. Am very tired. Goodnight.

Saturday 16/1/88

Restless sleep this morning, so I eventually got up around 8.00, to watch RAGE TOP 50 (was up to about no.25, that I saw) rang Jo’s place from 8.45 till 9.30 – no one answering. By then I had to leave. At TAFE, we only just walked in the administration block (seeing a large queue) when a lady asked if she could help us. I asked about reception courses & she said “They’re Monday, 5.30” so we went straight back to the car, and on to KMart to do grocery shopping, all the time I was picturing me & Jo shopping for our flat or house. Wouldn’t it be FUN?! I can’t wait to get working & get responsibilities!! [ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh this is hilarious. And seriously, seriously naive…] I was thinking (mum suggested) reception for WOODWARD & THOMPSON (for Mrs R!) but I was after Hotel reception, even though it is shiftwork. At home, just got home & Jo arrived. We went back to my place to get her “BAD” tape (I drove – can you call it that? – up our street … ha ha, ha!) Then to shop for pies. I didn’t want to swim so lay dozing in the TV room. They took me home around 1.30, before Jo went to work. At home did nothing …scrapbook, watch cricket. Couldn’t get in touch with Fiona. Tasha & Cara were the only ones at [privacy omission]‘s – told me [privacy omission], Sharon & CB caught the 4:00 boat to Fitzroy. That hurt cause I’d seen CB on the way home this morning and had said I’d ring her at 3.30 to arrange the trip & she’d already gone. And when I rang Tasha back, it sounded much like she wouldn’t be able to go tomorrow (& was definitely not allowed out tonight) So I depended totally upon Fiona, who, I found out, after ringing Stuart, Mr D, Mrs D. & finally Mrs B, was at a wedding. I left an “urgent” message with each of them. A Life in WordsIt’s 9.00 now & she hasn’t called yet. If Tasha can’t go & Fiona can’t go tomorrow then I can’t for sure (not with [privacy omission] on the same boat) ITS NOT FAIR. How can they do this to me? Everyone left me totally out (except Tasha – but she couldn’t help being not allowed out) I can just see me not going tomorrow, then Mark staying Sunday night as well. Well, it’s 9.35, and I’ve given up hope. I’m going to bed (we’ve been minding Dougie & Thomas – Julia’s at Amanda’s – so I’m really glad they’ve gone) I feel so depressed & “BETRAYED”

Sunday 17/1/88

Woke at 6.50 and decided I’d better get up. I had no calls till 7.25, so started ringing others: [panic station!] D’s, then B’s, then (Fi couldn’t come) Amanda’s (but Julia, Manda & Cherie didn’t want to come, either) Jude’s (was working) & eventually Tasha’s. She was allowed and had been trying to ring me! [See? It all works out in the end…] So I got to the terminal at 8.05 and bought my ticket. At 8.20 (after seeing Chris & Glyn; ooh) decided I’d better get on the boat. It was 8.25 when Tasha & Cara turned up (I was so relieved!) We lay on the floor for the (long, boring) trip. [I’m quite sure the big old wooden ferries were still operating back then, even though newer catamarans had been added to the fleet. The old ferry rides took longer and were less luxurious so were cheaper, especially with a student ID – which I still had even though I was technically no longer a student. (It didn’t expire until 28 February ’88) Lucky me.] Once there, CB & [privacy omission] met us & we took our stuff to the camping grounds. I saw Mark but he didn’t seem to want to talk, so we ([privacy omission] CB, Tasha, Cara & I) went on the pontoon- water was full of lice! A Life in WordsWe all just got out, when a huge jellyfish was dragged out of the water. It was monstrous! [Although I didn’t specify whether or not it actually was a box jellyfish, it could very well have been because Fitzroy Island was much closer to the mainland than Green Island, and box jellyfish only dwell around the mainland because they prefer shallower waters, and breed in river mouths, estuaries and creeks.] Then, by the pool, sat & swam (Mark at the table on the other side) Nicole (with Keith, Greg & [privacy omission] Rachel (or Wendy C??)) at the table near the end too. We left & went back to get food money & shoes… had lunch (2nd time Mark talked to me – of his own accord, too – told me I could have some of their lunch & told me he was going surfing) [….which I find laughable. The Barrier Reef ensure no swell makes it to our shores (which also makes the box jellies happy) unless driven by cyclonic conditions. Having said that, if someone had a boat and took them to the outer reef, there they might find surf…] then we sat again by the pool .. Cara & Tasha  went for a long walk & [privacy omission] & CB were associating with Nicole in the pool, so I  sat out with Trevor, Jason & Nigel. Then I got in when CB, [privacy omission] & them left on the 2.30 boat (Cara & Tasha were back) Mark got in & we were barely talking – he was really cranky & it annoyed me – he could at least have tried to be nice – just put me down & whinged about about how hot/cold/tired/sore he was. Then, he said he wanted to get out. I said “goodbye” He said “are you going now?” I said “yes” & I got out & packed up & noticed he was in the pool again with his mates. Great. So I left, got very annoyed & hurt at him for not saying a nicer goodbye, especially as he was staying over again. The trip home was, seemed, shorter…. we were on the front dozing & later singing songs. Just before docking, Glyn threw a towel at Tasha; she ducked, and it went straight over into the water!! He laughed so much! We got off & I rang mum. Tasha, Cara, Steven S left & I waited 10 or so minutes for mum. Lazy at home – am so tired … stuffed myself full of ham/pineapple/cheese on toast, for dinner. A Life in WordsRang [privacy omission] & them at 8.30 or so … may go to the movies tomorrow night. SOMEWHERE IN TIME is on now – that beautiful story.. I love it. Well, I’ll sleep in tomorrow & hopefully be able to ‘punish’ Mark for his rudeness. Nah, I’ll forget it in a flash! [I don’t know about ‘punishment’ but I’m also not down with forgetting about how someone important to you has treated you…]

Advertisements

More Trauma, More Surgery, More Drugs… (23 February-1 March)

Monday 23/2/87

Shit. I slept well last night…ready to finally go home..had shower, then the nurse took off my dressing for the doctors. They came, Talked. Then looked. MY STITCHES BURST, I HAVE TO HAVE A SKIN GRAFT ON WEDNESDAY. [In other words, I had to go under the knife again: to have the procedure I was meant to have in the first place. Not just insensitive & arrogant, but also incompetent surgeons?] I couldn’t stop crying when they left – mum & Kerri the social worker were with me. A Life in WordsI didn’t realise just how much I was looking forward to going home, till I couldn’t. Bastard. Bitch. I hate my leg… I’m going to have the biggest scars & a totally deformed thigh. it’s not fair. I’ll miss out on the carnival.. wednesday night. I hate my leg, I hate that bus, I hate life. Everything’s going wrong – my health, my “love-life” (Mark), my schoolwork. [Because I was so distraught about ‘everything’ by the end of the day, I failed to mention the tortuous consequence of the failed surgery; the removal of the stitches. It was horrendous, quite possibly the most physically painful experience in my life to date. At least I was in shock whilst pinned under the bus. I was given no local anaesthetic, no heavy-duty painkillers… just a couple of pills (‘digesics’) before the nurse began tugging (albeit as gently as possible) at the sutures stuck in the raw flesh around the entire circumference of the hole in my leg. You have NO idea…] I had a few visitors ..Justine & Angela & their mums, Yru & Mr Gordon & Dad came. [Dad] Got back from Adelaide today. God, I’m hot. And pissed off & depressed. Oh life’s a shit, a bitch. Imagine my scars .. to think I would’ve liked to do modelling [I’m not sure that I had ever really desired that myself: I think this was more of a notion inserted into my consciousness by others…] Everybody’s telling me it mightn’t (most likely it won’t) be bad… [being optimistic for me] They’ll disappear/fade with time. But I haven’t got lots of that. [? What did I mean by this?] It’s not fair. And Mark…that’s not fair, either.. we need to get on better.. I want to walk & go out …SHIT I’ll be here at least another week, I’ll bet. Not fair.

Tuesday 24/2/87

I was thrown into depression again, today. After showering I went with Kerri down to her office We had a talk about the crash etc. Fiona & her mum were waiting for me outside ..walked back to my bed.. A Life in Wordsmum came with the letter from Mark. It said “goodbye” & envelope contained the necklace which he “washed”. [Thanks for the ‘double whammy’, Universe. Talk about Murphy’s Law…] He was really angry about me sending him away. I got rather upset. Fi read it … I wrote a note for her to give to him & the photo of us… I was so upset. The rest of the day went slowly. I watched TV but wasn’t ‘there’. This arvy Miss Stephenson & Mrs Connors came & talked. Mark came up, while they were here. I had a heart attack – honestly, I thought you could see my chest pounding. When they left, we (or I) talked (mostly) He’s coming back tomorrow. We have quite a bit of sorting out to do. He can’t understand that I “don’t trust him”- ANYBODY. I’ve got to explain, but I’m afraid he won’t understand & will say goodbye for good. [Actually, I’m not even sure now what my reasoning was…] Had lots of visitors tonight. Is 9:30. Big day tomorrow – skin graft. Huh. Great. And bloody carnival I’ll miss out on.

Wednesday 25/2/87

A Life in Words
I’ve no idea why I decided I needed to keep this bottle of ‘Hibiclens’ pre-op soap…

I am rather ‘happy’ compared to yesterday & Monday. I slept badly last night – I mean, I couldn’t get to sleep to start with. This morning I had my pre-op soap shower & put on my lingerie (ha, ha!) (op. costume) about 10:00 I think, they started wheeling me away – but I stopped them: I wanted my pre-op needle!! [Junkie!] I got it. Waited less time this time, outside. [By now an old-hat with the pre-op experience, I had decided it was time to try to fight the grogginess and remember everything I could.  The wardsmen had stationed me right beside a tropical fish tank in the surgical waiting area and with my head lolling to the left for better focus on the aquatic life, I remember thinking “gotta count the fish”. Did I remember how many there were? LOL] At 10:55 they knocked me out totally. I remember being put back into bed.. When I woke, Mark was here, with Jules, Leanne (J) & mum. We talked well. He came up during lunch. .spent rest of the arvy with me. said he’s coming tomorrow too! YAHOO! He left me a letter, you see, telling me just how much he loves me. It is a gorgeous letter. Few more visitors today. (Jaque & Trina!!) BLOODY SWIMMING CARNIVAL on TONIGHT I’M MISSING IT. SHIT. NOT FAIR. I’ll be laid up in bed for “about 5 days”. Great. Huh. Little hot. I come out of anaesthetics pretty well, pretty quickly. [Like I said, I was a professional by now…] Am feeling slightly more confident about my scars now. Have a feeling I’ll get rid of them rather quickly! [Hmmm, seems I still didn’t understand the extent of my injury?] Hope so. Damn missing the carnival. Damn. G’night!

Thursday 26/2/87

Mark didn’t come up today. But I wrote a letter for him this morning. Numbness of my leg wore off at 2:00 this morning – I woke – my leg was ‘burning’ – stinging so much it felt on fire. I got a needle & my leg hasn’t hurt too much since. I wrote a letter to Roger [my cousin]. Got a letter from Lucy- she’s coming up at Easter. Nothing much happened … Keith came up! So did some others – mima – told me about some notes [privacy omission] had written in [privacy omission]‘s biology book – something like “I heard Elissa & Mark have broken up- I feel guilty but I’m so happy.” Ha, ha! He loves me! She’s skint! I gave Julia my letter to give to him tomorrow. I wish he’d come up today. I might be out Monday according to the doctors & “how I feel” A Life in Wordsso hot ..have to have washes in bed ..no more showers – & bloody bedpans – I did a poop tonight – hate doing ’em in bedpans. SKINT [privacy omission]! mark – I love you!! Conversation mostly about carnival- I missed one hell of a night DAMMIT!!

Friday 27/2/87

He came this afternoon ..no kisses, but holding hands.. yum, yum, yum ..I’m in love! Julia said she gave the letter to Lynette C to give to him & Sharon told me he got it. (Mima, fi, justine, megan, sharon came at lunchtime) I did a little bit of work today, listened to music, watched TV … all the same boring stuff. Oh, he’s coming tomorrow, too. Can’t wait till I’m out of here. Longing. A longing to be with him as much as possible. My leg’s annoying. Needed a needle last night again . . woke 1st – got digesics (??) [oral painkillers] 2nd time given the needle. Wowee! Police Academy’s on TV now UNREAL!! ♥ Mark. Trina visited. I’m getting used to the food – I eat most of it now that’s how long I’ve been in hospital. Oh dear. All I can think about is Mark. I’ll bet he liked the letter. I hope. YUMMY – hot afternoon. Pain-in-the-arse leg. Oh, I wish time would fly. Am sleeping badly. Lucy’s coming for Easter hol’s – so are Jodie & Michael & A. Hilary & Delanie should have moved back up here my then too! WOW!

Saturday 28/2/87

mark spent about 3½-4 hrs with me this arvy- left at 5:30. (Although Andrew J & Martin J interrupted for about ½ hr – I think I gave them the hint … I didn’t know what to talk about – so didn’t say much… Mark mucked around with the stuff on my bedside table!) [How completely uncomfortable, but inexcusably rude. I am retrospectively embarrassed.] It was funny… affection now & then, (no kisses, though … not even goodbye) but mostly “buddies” …Crabby came up tonight and, believe it or not, Marney & Nola R! But I kept talking to Wayne I don’t believe how well we get on! He gave me a goodbye kiss, cos it’d be the last time I see him for a long time. They’re leaving for their leadership camp tomorrow afternoon. I want to go home Monday, for sure. I want to get better really quickly so I can walk & dance, at least. Even if it’s a limp. I want to go out & get with Mark; something I haven’t down for nearly a month now. I think, in a strange, twisted sort of) way, this crash has made me more “well known”….people being more friendly ..and perhaps (guys) noticing me. But I’m for Mark. I know how [privacy omission] feels now .. heaps of guys you’d love to flirt with, get with for a night – but the one guy you love and want forever. No one will ever replace mark. I wish we could have a future together – I mean life-long, you know. But it won’t happen … I’m sure. [A fairly safe prediction, that one: teenage romances burgeoning into lifelong partnerships are as rare as hens’ teeth] HOT again. Can’t wait to have a proper shower again!

A Life in WordsThe diary I used in 1987 was a generic one (not specific to the year) so it had a page for 29 February (perchance the owner happened to use it in one of those). Since ’87 wasn’t a leap year, I had extra space to write for Saturday… but underneath this very important notation:

Sunday 1/3/87

He didn’t come up today. In fact, besides Justin, Mr McKenzie & his family and  (of course) mum & jules, no one did. Boring! I watched TV, read magazines .. that’s about it. God, I hope this is my last night here. I really don’t think I could stand much longer – one more night. NO! I need to get out ..get better quickly.. I’m dying to go out & do things again. I wonder when I’ll see Mark again . . . would he come to our house? I wonder! Talked about the crash with Justin- I’d love to find out what happened- when. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put back the hands of time. But, no, I shouldn’t think that. What’s done, is done. [Nice little hint of Wisdom there] I hope it doesn’t hurt me to walk on crutches again… I want to be able to do it so I can get out. God, I want to go. I’m still in a bit of pain… but not near as bad as thursday  I still need tablets (digesics) but I can roll over at night again. I’m looking forward to a shower again, too (wash my hair!)

 

Surgery, Seat Belts & the Birth of my Spiritual Belief System (16-22 February)

Monday 16/2/87

Feeling still very depressed. The doctors caught up with me today. (Dining room for breakfast & lunch. were late for brekky …squashy next to 2 black guys ..PAINFUL) [I’m quite certain this was a statement of discomfort rather than racist ‘slur’, for those who may be wondering…] After my shower they came back. Wasn’t too painful… they took out the drains. Redressed  my leg after a while. 2 dressings a day now… this arvy, mima was with me. Fi came in, too. Mark didn’t come today- I knew he wouldn’t. Probably won’t tomorrow, too. But he should come before 3 weeks. See, I’m going to surgery (skin graft for the big hole, stitch up the little hole) on Wed, then I’ll be in about a week after that. Then Drs say I have to spend at least 2 weeks at home. No I won’t. [Um, if the doctors say so…] I’m missing too much schoolwork. & friends. Dad told me yesterday: Jenny & him are getting married in May. I was shocked, but hid the surprise good as possible. Jacque visited. A Life in WordsBoring, depressed.. my  leg feels like no progress still hurts as much to stand now as it did when I first did – I’m not getting used to the blood rushing down, thru’ the sore. Painful, still. Tania gave me a big photo frame with photo of me, moni, fi, sharon &  mima taken end of last year, It’s beautiful. Monique is beautiful. ♥ her 4eva.

Tuesday 17/2/87

I went to the Valentine’s Dance! On crutches!! Tania drove me. I’d had painkillers – walking, sitting etc was a breeze!! [I found another notation elsewhere that also mentioned I got in for free!] Felt so good today… I mean tonight … walking, etc.. I’ve improved heaps – can lift my leg straight, in the air. Just finished dressing …did it when I came back.. (while after) about 9:00. surgery tomorrow. very few visitors. Oh, I’m tired. Sleep well. Ha! Mark wasn’t there tonight, but he’s going to the swim. carnival tomorrow – I won’t be allowed. Have to stay flat in bed for 3 days…will be murder getting on crutches again. The “report” on the bus accident on the Today Show was disappointing. Not much about the actual crash.

A Life in Words
How would seat belts have saved lives in this wreckage?

[Of course by this time there were preliminary investigations under way but very little had been published, since a formal inquiry was to be held at a future date. Naturally there was media & public speculation about the cause of the accident and associated discussions about prevention. The most prevalent opinion was that wearing seat belts would have saved lives. Absolute RUBBISH. One look at the bus wreckage should be totally explanatory. Interestingly enough, there was an article in the Cairns Post on this topic (not however in the manner of my specific argument) on Friday 20 (see below). I’m not against seat belts at all (if it’s even possible – per the article) but if WE had been strapped into our seats when that bus roof sheared off & seats were ripped from their places, the death toll would’ve been much higher…] Oh, I’m upset..Tania said to me tonight – talking to [privacy omission] he said something about Mark wanting to _ _ _ _ me She said they were pretty close… I’m upset; is that all Mark wants?? [Well, he’s a teenaged boy…?] I like him so much.. so very much… Oh, I’m so worried. . . . Too bad if I forgot anything – I’m so tired. Night. . . painful leg – skin graft oooh It’s 10:30

Wednesday 18/2/87

I was late – I mean THEY were [for surgery]. I was s’posed to go in at 8:00, but I got my pre-op(eration) needle at 8:30, and was taken up awhile after that. A Life in WordsI waited for ages, up there, dozing & finally around 10:00 I think I was rolled in & soon after, given the “knock-out” needle. When I woke, drowsy, really drowsy I was in heaps of pain. Finally got back down here around 11:45. Crying & whinging in pain. [I don’t seem to have diarised anything about this but sometimes the nurses would administer needles for pain relief, rather than just oral pills. I can’t recall the name of the drug, but I do remember asking for it on a few occasions. I can imagine this would be one of the moments they would not have denied me.] It soon settled. Spent the rest of the day lazing . . dozed a little around 5:00. Mark came up today – but to see Trina he reckoned. I think he’s shitty with me. (Oh, my leg’s so itchy) Doctor told me I didn’t have a skin graft after all – GREAT, HUH?! The flesh repairing was so elastic they could just stitch it up!! No major scars! Great! [Oh how the tables turned in just a few days’ time…and months later I begged my mother to try to recall whether she had signed any consent forms that specifically outlined the surgeons’ original intentions…] No major visitors (‘cept Mark) …I mean very few but the ones who came were nice. A case of quality, not quantity. [Of course ALL of my visitors were ‘nice’!] Another school kid’s bus crash in N.Z. about 5 people killed… not nearly as badly smashed as our bus, was their’s. [Competitive? Sheesh. Trying to source information about this accident was almost as difficult as it is to find information about ours on the net. This article celebrates the growth & success of one of the survivors of the Woodford House girl’s school bus accident which killed two students, two teachers & the driver. The victim doesn’t recall anything of the accident, waking up with  permanent paraplegia two weeks later in hospital.] It’s just after 9:00. I may be going home soon. Keep thinking about mark.. he wouldn’t be after “one thing”.. he writes too much caring stuff. He doesn’t intend to ever hurt me

A Life in Words
Before I was “reduced to square one -again”

Thursday 19/2/87

A “down’ Day, definitely: few visitors, pain in my leg. Hurts to walk: put it this way…I can’t anymore… I can’t straighten my leg and find it easier to ‘hop’ on my left leg, keeping the right foot totally off the ground. But tonight, after doing my teeth I kept up [stayed up] & went for exercise walk …keeping foot on floor, stretching & bending knee as much as possible. [In hindsight, this makes me cringe.] mima, Fi, Brent, Jason came up at lunchtime – Mark was at school. . he didn’t come up here. I think I should’ve written a note for mim to give to him for me. Of course I care that he doesn’t visit me… I care a lot. Am getting anxious… hope Trish doesn’t get hooks into him. (Tania visited this morning…had to work rest of the day.. BOOHOO! She’s leaving tomorrow-MISS HER! Hope I can get out to see her off – have a prezzy for her silver bracelet (sterling.)) My leg- how can it be – I walk fine Tues. & after an operation am reduced to square one -again: A veggie? Is 9:30. Try to get to sleep. Ate little (cos too lazy to go to dining room for meals – too sore.)

Friday 20/2/87

* Another down day. Still painful…worse to walk. Trina left this arvy, around 2:00 I think. This morning, the doctors came- but not all of them… thanks to the charge sister, Lisa, they decided to take my dressing off  On the way, he [one of them?] called me a sook. Bastard. It stuck a bit & it hurts so much. [I still cannot grasp the insensitivity of these medical ‘professionals’…] So, after, I waited about ½hr before someone redressed it, then, too late to have a shower, I dressed & mum took me to see Tania off. No tears shed. But I’ll miss her. Another friend gone. [Developing a life ‘theme’?] Showered after I got back (had lunch – a pie – got some food) Few visitors .. Mrs McI gave me a beautiful book (for end of 9 yrs of speech-huh? That’s not right…yep! it is!) Mr Paddy & Yru (came seperately, but) talked in depth about the crash..esp. Mr Paddy …he helped me understand/accept death etc .. It’s still scary to me…but I’m sure it’s  a big step to recovery of shock. [I’d never had anything to do with Mr ‘Paddy’ (I got his surname wrong) since he was a Music teacher, but this conversation had an incredibly massive impact upon me. I believe it was the catalyst for the development of my entire spiritual belief system, for life. All he did was offer his ideas about ‘what happens’ after we ‘pass over’ but it put me at ease by intimating that death is not ‘The End’. So I came to believe in reincarnation or at least, endurance of Spirit. One particular suggestion he made actually came to pass just a few months later; it was an indisputable experience and perhaps this is what irrevocably cemented my belief, and therefore eternal gratitude, love & respect for him.] Mark didn’t come. I’m really worried. [Privacy omission] mentioned something about sex today, too… it would absolutely break me if that’s all he wanted – I know it’s not ..I think …some little doubt in side …well, my mind’s made up.. he’s not going to get it, ever . . till I’m ready -and that’ll be ages. [He] told me he did to [privacy omission]..didnt really surprise me much 8:55

A Life in Words
In case you’re unable to decipher the fine print, the article basically discusses the impracticality of seat belt installation from an engineering point of view. While there is no reference to our bus’s detached roof, the displaced seats are mentioned.

Saturday 21/2/87

They told me I could go home today. But I didn’t. I wanted to stay in til Monday. Everyone probably thinks I’m crazy- I s’pose I am – but I’m smart; I’ll stay in just to be sure -no infections. [If there was ever a point in my life up till then that I should have respected myself for heeding my ‘Gut’, this was it…] And besides; my visitors have to be told!! [oh you Social Butterfly you!] On Monday I’d also like to see the physio & drs before I go They took out the drain this morning- my leg’s quite a bit better! Walking a bit easier!! Except for Mark’s visit, today was an “up” day.. he came – we got on alright…but he left the same way he did the  last 2 times..without saying goodbye…just walking off in a shit..I’d said something about him being mean to me [and then] “well you can leave” … [so he answered] “alright I will” ..he walked off & didn’t come back. That upset me. I really am worried about if he does like me. (God it’s hot.) he’s so moody; impatient I can’t understand him. We really need a good talk.. it’ll be a long time though.. you can’t really talk well in a hospital..or even at school. Oh, I’ve a headache… feel hot..feel terrible. Can’t sleep very well. Quite a few visitors..very lazy day.     Oh . . . I fell terrible. Must try to sleep.

Sunday 22/2/87

What a waste of a day. Here I was thinking I’d get hoardes of visitors:- mum, the McKenzies (principal), Justin F & Wayne C. That’s it. Leg’s O.K. I get pain “jabs” – throbbing now & then…but noticed walking is getting a bit better. Totally boring day… so sleepy, but couldn’t sleep. Thinking about mark…. I thought maybe that I’d changed & he’d changed (y’know – from the crash’n’everything) and we just don’t “click” anymore. Oh I wish everything was “normal” again.  home tomorrow – I have mixed feelings about that, too. . . good cos’ I’ll get work done (less visitors) & be able to exercise my leg – go for walks (crutches!) BUT – I’m apprehensive – haven’t been home since before the camp – before the crash that’s 3 weeks exactly…the memories – it’s going to be different – “overwhelming” is the word I think of. [Wow, well said.] Oh dear… Hot (-ish) today. Didn’t see Jules. Mike B went to see her this arvy, mum said. Wo, Jules!! ♥ mark – u poop! DAMN YOU

An Anaesthetic Hangover & Getting Out of Bed (7-8 February)

[Having gotten no further than the 6th February in my scrapbook, we now return to simply my diary entries, so here I have included the weekend and as of Monday 9th, posts will revert to weekly publishing again.]

Saturday 7/2/87

I saw Mark for about one minute today. He wasn’t very happy – looked stiff, like in a lot of discomfort. [I can’t imagine sitting upright in a wheelchair with a punctured lung would be terribly comfortable.] This was about 1:30 today. I wish we could’ve had more time and privacy. Gave me a pink teddy (I’ve called Yowie) and a cute little bunch of dried flowers with one red rose. (and said simply “Elissa, get well soon babe, Lots of Love, Mark.” I am really tired now. I went into surgery about 9:00, came out at 10:00 but didn’t wake til about 12:30. [Apparently this surgery was merely a dressing change, on my right leg’s injury. Because it was the first one since my ‘scrub’ surgery when I was first admitted (on Wednesday evening) I have assumed that the medics needed to assess the state of the wound, without the added complication of my ‘response’ in the conscious state. I could of course be completely mistaken…] A Life in WordsCrabbe (Wayne) was here again. Rebecca P even came in too. The effect of the anaesthetic hasn’t worn off all day – been dopey etc. [The state of my handwriting attests to this… see the picture] My drip was changed back to my right arm – now its so painful. There is much less dressing on my left knee – can move quite well still. Gordon C & Clayton E came in today too. Had quite a few visitors again. Slept badly.. woke early again cos of restlessness- inability to move during sleep.

Sunday 8/2/87

A Life in Words
In my hospital bed, with my fav teddies Monique & Yowie

I was in the best of spirits today- my left leg is so mobile!! I can even (with a lot of effort) lift it off the bed!! Slept badly last night – waking up in pain from my drip. [Good god, if it’s not one thing, it’s another…] Moved it again in the morning to my left (elbow) again .. then took it out for good!! I got in a wheelchair & had a shower & washed my hair for the first time in one week!! Then I felt so great & comfortable that the nurses let me go down & see Mark!! We sat – didn’t say much at all. Wondering if he’s shitty with me cause everybody else says he natters away when they’re with him. [Believe it or not, it actually crossed my mind that he might have been ‘shitty’ because I didn’t get Erica off him while trapped under the bus. This is, of course, ridiculous. But it’s the kind of paranoid imaginings a young girl with shaky self confidence and a kind of inferiority complex can have…] Anyway Sandra took me to see Melinda B after. We laughed so much. I felt really great today – no pain when I coughed or laughed. [I was completely unaware that I’d felt any pain of that kind, but I realise it’s almost to be expected: being thrown around like a rag doll is bound to affect thoracic musculature…] magic. more patients came later in the arvy – VISITORS, I mean!! [hasn’t that anaesthetic worn off yet?] I’m pooped now. Just realised how this thing has changed my life – the crash that is. [I’d love to know exactly what I meant by this, what my specific thoughts were. It’s an ambivalent statement, a tease if you will: what Change was my imagination envisaging precisely? I wish I had had the diary space (or merely inclination?) to provide more detail.] I’m not looking forward to the next 14 days – the doctors this morning reckon I’ll be in for another fortnight. SHIT. I don’t know if I will be able to cope with the pain of physio & “dressing changing” tomorrow. [I must have had ESP…] I ♥ u Mark. It’s about 8:50 now I think.

Doom’s Day (4 February)

Wednesday 4/2/87

A Life in Words
a candid shot during camp pack-up

[Since I typically make my diary entries at the end of each day, it stands to reason that the likelihood of that happening on this particular day is slim, even though the wording seems to suggest otherwise…]

TRAGEDY. After packing up etc this morning I took heaps of photos. Then we boarded buses. Erica, Monique, me, Fiona, mima Mark, Brent, Steven, Keith, Cameron, Chris, Glyn, Judy Jason P, Brett H, Becca G Michelle W. . . all on our bus. At first we had fun .. food fights too. Down the Gillies range I swapped places with Mark- he got the window seat – I snuggled back into his arms. Half Dozing (???) I felt us going really quickly around a corner, too fast .. I saw gravel and the bus rolled. I blacked out. When I woke Erica was on my left – head covered in blood; Jody K & Lee-anne W on my right and Mark underneath me, under a seat too. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t accept it as real, my right leg was jammed under the bus. After ages I was “pulled” out & soon taken by helicopter to hospital. The rest of the night & events are blurred. I went into theatre . . saw heaps of people .. Fiona, Kay H, Jacki W, Miss (MF) DeJourdan and Miss (R.) Bowles were in my ward. I was very tired.

A Life in Words[Make sure you’re comfortable: there are seven pages of the scrapbook dedicated to this one day, with as many details as I could recall…]

Yes, it really was the last day…time to leave. Absolute chaos trying to tidy up & pack up our belongings. Out came the cameras too…until now, we’d forgotten all about them. […that was something I later considered a prescient phenomena: how lucky were we to have remembered our cameras and gotten as many photos as we did, within just hours of the tragedy?] With the cameras came some candid shots, of course! A few misplaced items, but mainly the problem was fitting things back into bags and boxes. Most of us couldn’t wait to get home to get clean – shower, wash hair & clothes. A Life in WordsAfter taking down the tent (I’m sure we left some pegs or something behind) [ooh, Dad wouldn’t’ve been happy about that…] we lugged all the gear up to the covered area, where everyone else was, with theirs. Then, a barrage of photos taken as people stood around talking, fighting & mucking around until the buses arrived. When they did there was a mad rush to pack the buses and grab the best seats, but we were stopped by the teachers. We had to wait till they let us pack…then there was a longer wait til we were finally allowed on the buses. Only one bus was filled at a time: girls got on first…

A Life in Words
Waiting for the word. Our bus is on the left.

We chose the second bus because of its big sliding windows [better ventilation, for a cooler ride] (I also thought we’d have a better chance of getting good seats). Jemima was the first on, and I second. She sat in the second last seat on the driver’s side [what I call the ‘right side’ for future reference…] and I, after a quick decision, [aware that others were very likely queueing up the aisle behind me] slipped into the seat in front [of her], instead of the one opposite, where Monique and Fiona sat. [I have no doubt that the choice I made in this fleeting moment was pre-determined; not a (conscious) choice at all. I was destined to survive.]

The rest of the seats filled quickly: we saved seats for Erica, Monique, Mark and Brent.

A Life in Words
The last photo I took. Erica asleep, Judy’s legs beside her and Jody & Leeanne’s heads visible in front

We left second; the journey started great: we ate any leftovers we had (including Coco Pops and 100’s & 1000’s fights!) Elisia E. had a drink container of water [the contents of] which disappeared as it was passed around the whole bus.

Up a steep hill, the 3rd bus passed us, but we soon overtook it again, as it stopped for Alan D. (Who was sick).

Down the range, we began singing songs…Beatles songs mostly. Soon we all settled down, snoozing and talking quietly to each other. Mark compained about the heat, so we swapped places: he had the window seat. I leaned back against his chest…I don’t recall what time it was. I must have dozed off….

A Life in WordsThe first thing I remember just prior to the crash, was as we were just nearing the bend…I was looking across the aisle, over Jody & Leeanne’s heads, to the view, thinking “we’re going a bit fast”…then (it felt like) we took the corner really wide. [In fact we didn’t at all: the bus driver apparently sounded the horn – of which I have no recollection – as a warning to any oncoming traffic that he intended to – and did – actually cut the corner in his valid attempt to avert disaster.] I must have stood or leaned up because I remember seeing the gravel (the road shoulder) before the drop…then looking to the front of the bus, past the driver, to the bank on the other side of the road, thinking, “Come on bus driver, keep turning and we’ll stay on the road” (which was really wierd when you think about it, because I didn’t know what was happening: that is, that we were actually going to go off the cliff…maybe I subconsciously knew) [Yes, I would have, we all would have…]

I remember the front of the bus seemingly stopping, while the rear slid [out, sideways], and slid over the shoulder, the left side dragging the rest of the bus over. [Which makes sense considering that only the front brakes were operational: with no functioning rear brakes and the added weight of the undercarriage storage also located at the rear of the vehicle, there was no stopping the ‘tail-swing’.] The rest of this, the actual descent, seemed more dreamlike than the events prior to it…I remember pitch darkness…flashes of light (where perhaps windows were?) I couldn’t see anything besides that but I could hear metal crunching and glass breaking…and feeling, well, I was thrown once, twice, then I recall nothing: [I deduced later that the bus would have rolled one & a half times, because it came to rest upside down: that amounts to 6 ‘throws’ in total.] I must’ve been knocked out, but as I was rolling it felt [as if it were] in slow motion, bodies and things brushing past me, not roughly or painfully. It felt much like I was floating…doing flying somersaults.

When I came to it seemed very slowly: like the dream (nightmare) was continuing. […emerging from an inky abyss…] My body was in almost total darkness (I was under the bus) [the roof had sheared off as we rolled down the embankment and, since it ended up upside down, the bottom effectively became the ceiling] and I felt an incredible pressure upon my right leg.. I only remember thinking I was dreaming & telling myself to scream, because you have to TRY to scream in a nightmare, even though your screams are inaudible. There was a hole in the bottom of the bus [the ‘roof’] so I could see out, up a slope. [This confused me in the weeks & even months to come (until I was able to return to the site) because I couldn’t fathom why I could see trees still upright: if we had rolled down the hillside, wouldn’t we have taken out everything in our path? It turned out that the angle at which the bus came to rest in the gully was different to that at which we left the road, so I had a ‘room with a view’ of the untouched environment.] I remember screaming to get the “fucking bus off my leg” and yelling the names of people I saw walk past…some of whom told me to shut up. Slowly I realised it wasn’t a dream. I noted Erica’s head on my right, sticking partly out from under a seat, and I could only just see (from my trapped position) two bodies, whom I believed to be Jemima & Brent, at first, on my left: they were in fact Jody & Leeanne.

A Life in Words
The bus as it came to rest. Apologies for the quality of these photos: I took them from video footage stills

Astia held & stroked my left foot outside the bus and helpers tried to comfort me. There was a pair of legs sticking out from the far end of the seat on top of Erica & I finally realised they were Mark’s. I must have been out for a little while because all those people [teachers & students from the third bus] were there when I’d regained consciousness. [The third bus was apparently only minutes behind us, but long enough for some of the lesser injured to scramble back up the hideous slope and flag them down.] When Mark did, he frantically yelled at and abused me…to “get this fucking person off him” Of course I couldn’t & his anger at me distressed me more. [I had to assume it was Erica’s body, and knowing she was (therefore they both were) under the bus seat that I was also partly on top of, I tried my best to keep my bodyweight off it. Pinned as I was by my right leg, with the earth significantly dropping away into the base of the gully, I had to use my left arm to hold my bodyweight off the seat.] It seemed my mouth & my mind were two separate beings because, although I was yelling and screaming, I was thinking “don’t panic – they’re getting help – they’re doing all they can…” [the Mind versus the Witness?]

A Life in WordsMichelle W. was nearby, but I couldn’t see her…she touched my right leg and also tried to reassure me. [I have since discovered that one of the ambulance officers was periodically ‘manhandling’ my pinned leg for signs of response from me; because it was clamped so tightly but my femoral artery was still pumping blood into it, it had swollen to “twice the size” of my left leg, and I was in serious danger of losing the entire appendage if I lost sensation…] 

I was arguing with Mark…I tried to tell him I couldn’t move Erica because she was…unconscious.  But somehow I knew she was dead. There was fresh blood all through her beautiful blonde hair, and a pool of it in her ear (none on her face). [That still amazes me, to this day.] I heard Jody’s breathing, if that’s what you can call it: he was having tremendous difficulty: wheezing & choking [his lungs were punctured]…but I don’t actually remember hearing him stop.

I didn’t think of Monique, nor Jemima or Fiona. I was thrown into oblivion by the shock, I think. I thought only of my immediate surroundings and not even of what had actually occurred. [Talk about being ‘in the Now’…] I remember at one stage, reaching back to feel my right leg…drawing my hand back into view, I saw lots of blood and dirt and fragments of skin hanging off my fingers.  Mark’s left calf had a tear in it: a ‘hole’ and bright red flesh was hanging from that. Possibly the only reason I was not sick (physically) from the sight of all this gore, was the fact that I was in shock. [Absolutely.]

A Life in Words
An aerial view of the hairpin bend we failed to negotiate. You can just see the bus at the top of the picture

I remember, what seemed HOURS later, when they first attempted to lift the bus off my leg…there was a new sensation…painful only in the sense that it was uncomfortable: the rush of blood to supply the rest of my leg, or be released through my open wounds…but it was shortlived…the great tonne [or more?] of metal was again allowed to rest on my leg, as, I found out later, when the bus was first lifted with only one set of ‘Jaws of Life’, the weight was transferred to the other end of the bus and consequently put more pressure on a victim (Cameron) who was trapped by his chest.

So a second set was [finally] applied and the bus levered up evenly. Again, the horrible new sensation.

A man told me he was going to take some metal out of my leg, “Hold still and I’ll do it gently” But I couldn’t bear the thought of him slowly edging foreign material out of my leg, and so yelled “No! Just RIP it out!” [Actually, from memory it was more like “no, just fucking rip it out”] He must have, because I don’t remember the pain from that.

Possibly the most pain I experienced was when they dragged me out from under the bus…up onto a stretcher…I kept my eyes closed for most of that time. I remember chatting away, as they hoisted me off the ground and carried me (upside down – I remember – possibly to stem the flow of blood?) [or to keep the leg elevated, to drain some of the swelling & keep the blood in my torso, around my vital organs?] to the ‘top’.

A Life in Words
Anyone & everyone (who was able) helped SES workers in the rescue.

I was placed under a yellow tarpaulin…still talking to anyone who was there. [Clearly my automatic shock response defaults to Chatterbox.] They tried to put up another tarp adjoining the one I was just underneath and I remember it falling and me putting my hand up to stop it landing on my leg. [It was overcast but I believe there was minimal rainfall, so the rescue operation wasn’t hampered. Lucky us.]

I have no idea how long I waited up on the road, before I left by helicopter. [Days later, two of my friends said their watches had stopped at exactly 12:57pm, so we all assumed that that was the moment of ‘impact’ …and apparently it was pretty much spot on. As for how long I was trapped, then lying on the roadside before my transit to hospital I still have no idea, other than my sister guessing I arrived at Cairns Base around 4pm] Although, I remember seeing Kay standing up…looking at me and saying “You’ll be alright Elissa.” [God knows what her perception of my leg was. I cannot imagine what it must have looked like.]

When I was lifted and told I was going by helicopter (and wasn’t I lucky?) and to shut my eyes, they carried me past a familiar pair of legs sticking out of a familiar pair of shorts…I tried to reach down to him…”Mark! Mark?” But they moved [lifted] me higher up and away faster. From then I kept my eyes closed…it seemed a fairly long trek to the helicopter. [It would have to have been… I almost can’t picture where the chopper would have been able to land on the narrow mountain highway] Then I felt the overhead propellors and I was loaded inside the ‘copter.

I could see the [back of the] pilot’s head, a man sitting to my right (to whom I kept babbling on) and the perspex roof, through which light grey clouds and raindrops could be seen. [Hardly a memorable helicopter ride, when all you get to see is the sky above you.]

I remember borrowing the man’s handkerchief for some (unknown to me) reason and making sure that I returned it to him when we landed. [Courtesy instilled in me by my great parents.] I remember lots of people in white putting me on a trolley stretcher and wheeling me somewhere, [most likely from the Cairns Esplanade (the nearest open space suitable for a helicopter to land) which is fortunately just across the road from the Cairns Base Hospital] but I don’t remember actually entering the hospital.

I remember being wheeled past partitions in a room, wheeled into an end one: directly opposite a set of swinging doors, Just before I was put in there, I recall turning my head to the left and seeing someone, in the partition before mine, with a totally red face….blood-covered & bloodstained…at first I thought it was Brent but realised later it must have been Brett.

I was in that partitioned area for quite a short period of time…some doctor looking at my leg and asking my name, address, parents’ names and home phone number…then I was wheeled through the swinging doors into an unpartitioned room and placed quite nearby Sean D…who was sitting up, looking OK. Again the nurses asked personal details and, whether they gave me a ‘shot’ or not, I remember nothing else…but passing out.

A Life in Words
The shorts I was wearing were cut off me: I don’t know if the discoloured areas are old blood or faeces stains. I would have had no idea (nor care) obviously whether I’d soiled myself or not…

When I came to again, it was only extremely briefly and I felt extremely groggy…I was in a white room with lots of silver machinery [theatre] and they were putting a gown on me, and taking off my ring and earrings. Then I passed out again.

I came to in a corridor; I was being wheeled somewhere [probably to the ward]. As I was still under the effect of the anaesthetic, I was trying my hardest to keep my eyes open. I saw Julia, Mum (very concerned-looking) and Dad and Jenny, then I said “How’s Monique? What about Mark? How is everybody?” [but don’t recall any responses] I vaguely remember Mum nearly fainting and the nurses putting her on a trolley too. [My poor beautiful mother… I can’t imagine the stress she was under. She had had the utter misfortune earlier of sitting with two of the dead children’s mothers at the very moment they were called to be dealt their worst nightmares.]

The next and last thing I remember from that day was finding myself in my room in Ward C West (floor 3). There were lots of people, mostly visitors, milling around. I can only remember talking to Sharon and Harry B. I was unaware of any pain in my leg(s) or the catheter they had ‘implanted’. I didn’t even realise I had no underwear on. I was wearing a hospital nightie. I remember being quite ‘chirpy’ (obviously still in shock) and asking people questions. I had missed the news but heard that it was a ‘national disaster’. [Oddly, I must admit I felt a little ‘thrilled’ about the whole country knowing and talking about us. It goes to show just how powerful Ego can be. Shock can deny you the gravity of a situation but may have no effect on Ego.]

Although visiting hours officially ended at 8pm, I think the hospital staff had quite some difficulty in removing all the visitors (especially relatives) by 8:45pm.A Life in Words

I remember still wanting to talk when everyone had left: Jacque seemed the most willing, aside from Miss Bowles. Miss DeJourdan seemed very quiet and Kay appeared to do much more listening than talking. Fiona was quite absent from this world…it would take at least 3 calls of her name before she would turn to look at whomever was calling, then when asked a question, would either nod, or just look at you, not understanding or comprehending, even ignoring. She slept the most and longest out of the six of us. I wasn’t sure of my wounds, thinking I had a deep cut in the back of my right thigh, and a severe cut on my left knee. I don’t remember whether I was fed painkillers, but I fell asleep quite quickly and quite soundly.