brain stem cover

The remarkable story about David FitzGerald’s recovery from a brain stem injury. This work of non-fiction is an inspiring read from start to finish. The story follows David’s life after he suffers an horrific brain injury from a horse riding accident when he was 11 years old.
Even with the love and support of his family, the early times were wrought with emotional anger and depression. He talked slowly and there was very little respect shown from people towards him. Trying to cope with Parkinson’s syndrome was devastating.
Eventually he found the inner strength to go on to university and the healing process began with his determination never to give up. Travelling to Europe and the UK, David also shares his joy of marriage and two beautiful daughters.
This is a story of hope - no matter what happens in life, it’s how you deal with it that matters. Written with heart-felt honesty, this is a powerful and inspiring story that needs to be read.
By sharing his challenges and triumphs over the years and his determination to achieve what he wanted, David’s story is a wonderful self-help tool for others in similar situations.


In Store Price: $AU24.95 
Online Price:   $AU23.95


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ISBN:   978-1-921919-36-7 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 162
Genre: Non Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

Cover Photo: Therese Flynn-Clarke



Author: David Fitzgerald
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English



his book has been a project of mine for a number of years. I first thought about writing about my recovery in 1996. At that time I was angry about how I had been treated like a second-class citizen by a large proportion of the population, just because I talked a bit slowly and had a gait in my walk. However, my experience in the years since has taught me that if people have no contact with brain-injured people then they will treat them as if they are different. People do discriminate and that is a sad fact of life.

My reasons for writing this book are threefold. I want to show people that brain-injured people can still think and play a significant role in society. Secondly I want to inspire others who have been through, or who are going through, similar experiences. You should not admit defeat, because if you don’t give up – you don’t lose. Finally, this book has been part of the healing process which I must go through.

PART ONE (sample)

The Accident and Beyond


1982 – This was a memorable year for me. I was to turn 12 and play my last game of rugby league for Gatton under-12s. Wynnum Manly won the Brisbane premiership, Parramatta won the Sydney premiership and that was the year I was to have my brain-stem injury.

My accident happened on 15th August, 1982. I had just returned home from a scout camp and my cousins, James and Katrina FitzGerald, were on our farm having a ride on one of our horses – ‘Dooley’. I ran out in my bare feet to have a ride on Dooley also. We were riding in a paddock which was right next to a railway line. This was where the other horses were also kept.

When I mounted Dooley, a train went past and blew its horn. Another horse in the same paddock became excited and bolted down the track. This startled Dooley, so off he went. My uncle, Tony, was standing in front of Dooley. He was faced with the decision of trying to spook the horse and have it rear up in front of him, or let it go by and hope that I would regain control. I did not gain control and was thrown off the horse. Unfortunately when I fell off, my foot got caught in the stirrup. From that point I was dragged around 20 metres, dangling behind the horse by one leg. My head bounced from side to side hitting objects on the way. I banged my head on a sizeable rock, which was no doubt responsible for the majority of injuries which were to follow.

After about 20 metres, the stirrup in which my foot was caught came free. I lay there motionless, covered in dust. Uncle Tony said later that he thought I was dead. In fact I was pretty close to it, but not quite. I don’t remember anything that happened but Uncle Tony told me about it later.

Auntie Bernadette was also there. It was fortunate for me that she had recently completed a first-aid course and was fairly up to date with what needed to be done. She was able to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to get air into my lungs until the ambulance arrived some time later.

My mother had witnessed the horrific events from the veranda of our house. She had called the ambulance and followed it in our Kingswood to Gatton Hospital. Our family’s usual doctor, David Sawden, was not on duty at the time. My mother insisted that he be contacted.

When he finally arrived he examined me and said that it may be temporary. I may come out of it quickly, but he did not think so. I was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

My mother and father were distraught. They were in the waiting room of the hospital later on that evening when Peter Debuse, the head of the hospital, asked to speak with them.

In a solemn voice, which I am sure that he had used many times before, he said that there was no point in them staying at the hospital. His experience with brain injuries suggested that if I did wake up, I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life.

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