Shepparton’s Jayden Lancaster thought it was a dream when he woke up in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The aspiring personal trainer, 23, had been out with a friend in Shepparton and while cruising down Fryers St in March this year the pair had been involved in a collision with a tree.
The car did not have airbags and collided with the tree at 100km/h.
The driver suffered a fractured vertebrae, while Mr Lancaster needed a facial reconstruction after his head crashed into the dashboard.
‘‘I don’t remember the night,’’ Mr Lancaster said.
‘‘I remember waking up 24 hours later on life support.’’
Mr Lancaster was halfway through his personal training course when the collision happened and could not continue it because of his injuries.
Fortunately, Mr Lancaster’s fitness level helped his recovery, but he still had to spend 10 days in hospital and needed facial reconstruction surgery.
‘‘It was about six months and then I started getting back to the gym,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s like meditation for me ... that’s why I love it so much.’’
But his recovery has been long and hard and when he needed facial reconstruction surgery doctors had to peel back his face, leaving scars on his face and head.
His family and friends were stunned by the collision, which happened on his mother’s birthday.
‘‘It was a shock to them,’’ Mr Lancaster said.
‘‘My girlfriend was there, the whole time she sat by my side.’’
For the first few months of Mr Lancaster’s recovery he could not eat properly and had to use a straw for food because his jaw was broken.
‘‘That was hard, but I just kept going every day,’’ he said.
‘‘Then slowly I could chew again, but it was the mental side that really got me, depression kicked in.
‘‘It put me in some dark spots for a long time.’’
After the collision, Mr Lancaster’s body needed time to recover and he found he was often light headed.
It was a difficult time for him, but his gym Anytime Fitness Shepparton had not forgotten about him and they were keen for him to start doing what he loved again.
‘‘I was going to quit because I couldn’t walk in there,’’ he said.
‘‘They helped me out, they got me back in there and it was the best thing I ever did.’’
Because Mr Lancaster was not working at the time of the collision TAC could not cover him, but Anytime Fitness Shepparton were happy to give him a free trial to motivate him to return.
‘‘I’ve had to have a strong mind to get through it,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s still days now where I get upset, but I just go for a walk or a run or go to the gym and Anytime have helped a lot.’’
Mr Lancaster said everyday he reached a new goal in his health and hoped by the time he reached the 12-month mark since his accident he would be in a good place.
‘‘(The collision) put me on a different path, I’ve gone in to do a course in disability now,’’ he said.
As for driving, Mr Lancaster has a warning for people when it comes to hopping behind the steering wheel.
‘‘Don’t drink drive,’’ he said.
‘‘I never thought (a collision would) happen, you always hear about it and they make a big deal about it on the TV and there’s a reason why: drink driving can kill you.’’