Sydney Paul Farnsworth left a quadriplegic in horrific motorcycle accident as he learns to eat, talk and move

Vicki Farnsworth remembers July 15, 2016, as if it were Yesterday.

She was on her way to work when she received a phone call from the police – her husband Paul had been in a motorcycle accident.

WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Paul learns to communicate

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For the next three months, Vicki sat by the hospital bed of her comatose life partner, listening to Doctors hand down their prognosis.

The critically ill Sydney dad of two little girls was destined to be a “vegetable” – if he woke up.

But for Vicki, ‘pulling the plug’ was never an option.

“He is the love of my life,” she tells 7Life of the man she married in 2009, and with whom she shares daughters Layla and Sofia, who were five and three at the time of the accident.

Vicki and her husband Paul Wed in 2009. Credit: Supplied

“It was a no-brainer. Of course I would look after him. ”

Miraculously, three months later, Paul opened his eyes.

But quadriplegic as a result of the accident, he was told he would never talk, move or eat.

Six years on, he has proven Doctors wrong – with progression in speech, movement and swallowing.

Last week he went camping, the week before he went fishing, and over summer he soaked up the sun on the beach.

“Whether he’s a quadriplegic or not, he’s still a dad,” Vicki says.

The devoted wife believes her husband’s disability is not a hindrance – rather, it’s a blessing that they have the opportunity to watch his children grow.

The accident

Vicki, an aged care worker, would typically phone her husband between client visits.

“I had phoned him a few times that day and he hadn’t answered,” she says of the fateful July date in 2016.

“I didn’t really think too much of it. I just thought he had a busy day. ”

Later that afternoon, she was relieved when Paul’s number popped up on her caller ID.

Instead of her husband’s voice at the other end of the line, however, she was greeted by a police officer.

“They told me Paul had been in an accident and had gone to Liverpool hospital,” she says.

“I asked them if he was alive and they said, ‘Yes, he is alive.'”

Paul spent more than 12 months in hospital after a motorcycle accident left him quadriplegic.
Paul spent more than 12 months in hospital after a motorcycle accident left him quadriplegic. Credit: Supplied

Vicki didn’t initially think her husband had been seriously injured.

A few years earlier he had been in a minor motorcycle accident, brushed off his injuries and headed to work without telling his wife.

With Vicki Furious at his “Stupidity,” the couple agreed that if Paul ever fell off his beloved bike again they would seek medical treatment.

With this in mind, Vicki headed towards the hospital thinking that, at worst, they would have broken a bone.

But her husband was in a critical condition.

Critical condition

While anxiously waiting for any update, Vicki phoned family members to tell them of Paul’s accident.

Police and a colleague met her in the ICU and explained what had happened on the road.

During his lunch break, Paul had jumped on his bike to head down the street to grab a bite to eat.

When he was just a few kilometers from his work, a small truck turned in front of him.

Paul slammed on his brakes and slid into the back tire of the truck, his body ricocheting 50 meters.

Emergency services found him in a life-threatening condition.

Layla (left) and her Younger sister Sofia (right) help their dad in his rehab.
Layla (left) and her Younger sister Sofia (right) help their dad in his rehab. Credit: Supplied

Later that night, when he was out of surgery, Vicki was finally able to see her husband.

“He looked asleep because he was in an induced coma, and I thought he was just a few broken bones,” she says.

“I didn’t realize how serious it was until I peeled back the blanket.”

A large, open wound divided her husband’s abdomen in half.

With swelling impacting almost every organ in his body, Surgeons were unable to close his stomach.

But their main concern was significant swelling on his brain.

Doctors’ warning

After a few days, the anesthetic that had placed Paul in an induced Coma was stopped in an attempt to bring him out of his medical slumber.

But Paul, kept alive by breathing tubes, didn’t wake.

Doctors warned the family that if Paul ever came out of the Coma they would be a “vegetable” and it was gently suggested the fan could be turned off.

Rejecting the idea Outright, Vicki said: “If he wanted to keep fighting, I wanted to give him every opportunity to be able to wake up in his own time.”

And keep fighting he did.

Vicki has never left Paul's side.
Vicki has never left Paul’s side. Credit: Supplied

The first weekend Paul spent in the hospital, Vicki took Layla and Sofia to see their dad.

“I didn’t want them to be scared of the hospital. I knew we would be in here for a long time, ”she says.

The girls sat quietly and asked questions about the tubes and wires running around their “daddy”.

“I told them that this tube was helping Daddy Breathe and that that one helped his heart pump,” she says.

After a month of no change to Paul’s condition, Vicki went back to work for four hours a day, attending her husband’s side after each shift.

During her absence, Paul’s parents would sit with him.

The family soaks up the sun together in routine outings.
The family soaks up the sun together in routine outings. Credit: Supplied

“My mother-in-law would tell me that Paul was opening his eyes for short bursts,” Vicki says.

“And my father-in-law said Paul would squeeze his hand.”

Vicki couldn’t believe the progress her husband was making – one day her mother-in-law even sent a video of Paul keeping his eyes open for an incredible 20 minutes.

Following her shift one afternoon, Vicki headed to the hospital and jokingly confided in her husband.

“I laughed and said, ‘How come you aren’t squeezing my hand?’ she says.

“Then he squeezed my hand.”

She asked her husband again to Squeeze her hand if he could hear her – and he did.

Long road

After three months, Paul was moved to the brain injury Ward to begin the slow road to recovery.

Doctors’ confidence in his Rehabilitation was minimal, and Vicki confesses she was confronted a lot by the notion they would never move, talk or eat again.

His level of cognisance was also questioned but Vicki knew her husband was there somewhere.

“He might be a prisoner in his own body, but he is still their dad,” she says.

“I kept telling him it is his job to teach your kids if you want something in life you have to work your a *** off.”

With a specially built fishing rod, Paul can enjoy his favorite pastime.
With a specially built fishing rod, Paul can enjoy his favorite pastime. Credit: Supplied

Moving into her mum’s home, Vicki began modifications to prepare for her husband’s discharge.

Then – after one, long year in hospital – Paul was on his way home.

With her husband in a wheelchair, and being fed through a tube, communication was difficult.

Vicki managed to form her own ‘language’ with him – through “blinking”.

“Two blinks means yes, no blinks means no and three blinks means I love you,” she says.

With two carers 27/4, the help of his daughters and numerous therapists, Paul has come a long way.

Life post accident

He can now eat mashed bananas, yoghurt and loves his afternoon coffee.

He has learned the words yes and no and, for the first time in half a dozen years, he has held his wife’s hand.

“I can’t share a bed with him or do normal couple stuff,” Vicki says.

“So it might seem like something small, but feeling my fingers intertwine with her was a really special moment.”

Told he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life, Paul is Proving he is still able to communicate.
Told he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life, Paul is Proving he is still able to communicate. Credit: Supplied

She adds she has requested for her upcoming birthday that Paul say “I love you”.

Every Sunday, the extended family gathers and plays board games and laughs.

And Vicki doesn’t let her husband off easily – she still takes him grocery shopping.

Traumatic brain injuries

Crucial to the Farnsworth family is normality.

“It’s so important that we didn’t stop doing what we love,” she says.

So, while the kids swim at the beach, Vicki and Paul watch on from the sand.

Camping is another activity the family doesn’t shy away from, and a custom fit wheelchair fishing rod holder comes in handing for their Dockside fishing.

Vicki has now started a blog and social media to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries.

And she uses her platform to help guide others who are also living with someone who has a brain injury.

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