The Daily Examiner

Tough bushie on the mend

REX Cowling cackles with laughter in his South Grafton home as he prods what remains of his recently amputated leg, affectionately calling it 'old shorty'.

After six months of hospital stays and 23 theatre operations, the 75-year-old 'tough old bushie' couldn't be happier now he is finally back home.

“It's bloody beautiful,” he said.

On October 9, Rex was involved in a horrific car accident on Armidale Road near Coutts Crossing.

Although he does not remember the crash, it is believed he suffered a hypoglycaemic seizure as a result of his diabetes, causing him to blackout. His vehicle smashed into a tree.

Rex's legs were badly crushed in the accident and he was flown to Lismore Base Hospital for treatment, before later being flown to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. He also suffered a range of other injuries, including a broken wrist and broken vertebrae.

“They thought I must have been finished,” he said with a wry smile.

Rex suffered so many complications he was kept in intensive care for over two months and only released from hospital last Friday. His wife Heather was by his side every step of the way.

“We were called in for his last rites twice,” she said.

“He's a tough old bushie, he pulled through.”

“At the beginning we were told if he made it, he would have to go to a nursing home up there, but we said no way, he's coming back to Grafton.”

Today, it is hard to believe the grim predictions were only made a few months ago.

Although one of Rex's legs had to be amputated and he requires home nursing care, Heather said it was lucky Rex was even alive.

“If it wasn't for the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter, he wouldn't be here at all,” she said.

She said the helicopter crew were amazing, with the same paramedic who first flew with Rex responsible for taking him to the helipad at Lismore the day after the accident.

“He kept asking about him, kept seeing if he was okay,” she said.

“I don't know his name but I'd love to meet him.”

Heather encouraged residents to donate to the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Service.

“Until these things happen and you see them happen, you don't really appreciate it,” she said.

Rex was also full of praise for the nurses at the Princess Alexandra hospital.

“I don't think I could've had a better lot of nurses, I don't think we had one that was nasty or cranky the entire time,” he said.

For now, Rex and Heather are enjoying life back home and have been busy entertaining over 50 well-wishers since their return. Rather than being tired out, Heather said Rex was thriving.

“He's never been happier,” she said.

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