Survivor starts again

Life has been a challenge for Lachlan Cousins since he almost drowned at Cottesloe beach last year. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d422684
Life has been a challenge for Lachlan Cousins since he almost drowned at Cottesloe beach last year. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d422684

While most teenagers spend their gap year travelling abroad, the 17-year-old has no choice but to spend his days at Royal Perth Rehabilitation Hospital in Shenton Park.

The day before his graduation from Aquinas College, his life changed forever.

While in the water at Cottesloe beach, Lachlan hit his head on a sandbar and fractured his spinal cord, resulting in him becoming a C5 level functioning quadriplegic. He has since been an inpatient at hospital.

‘I don’t remember it (the accident). I don’t remember too much of that day or the rest of 2013,’ he said.

‘I have some memories of ICU but I don’t really remember much else.

‘It feels like I should know more about what has happened but I don’t, which is kind of weird.’

While the lack of memory can frustrate, Lachlan’s physical progress has been positive.

He has regained some arm movement and he hopes to be out of hospital before his 18th birthday in October.

The youngest person in the 40-patient ward, Lachlan spends each morning resting and doing personal care before his daily physiotherapy appointment.

‘It is challenging at times,’ he said.

‘My first challenge was to keep breathing, especially after I nearly drowned.

The next was not trying to get a trachy (tracheotomy) and getting all the s*** out of my lungs.’ While life cannot return totally back to normal, Lachlan has kept his plans to study commerce and is enrolled to start at Curtin University next year.

‘The next major challenge is getting out of here and trying to get into a manual wheelchair.’