Doctor tells of hidden pain to senseless road trauma
YOU may not remember lying in the intensive care unit connected to a machine helping you take your next breath, but your family will.
Sitting beside you, they will struggle to cope with the overwhelming sense of helplessness and shock.
Working amid the chaos of the busy ward will be the doctors and nurses keeping a constant check on your condition, fighting to save your life.
It's a scenario Toowoomba Hospital intensive care unit specialist Dr Adam Visser has seen played out too many times with, tragically, too many fatal endings over his 16-year medical career.
Dr Visser has joined The Chronicle's Give... Don't Grieve road safety campaign to keep his ward empty of road trauma victims.
"Most trauma patients won't remember any of their time in intensive care - it's actually a lot harder on their families," he said.
By the time road trauma victims enter the ICU, specialists have done what they can to save their lives.
Dr Visser said the ward was exposed to a "small portion of a patient's journey through the hospital", but it was enough to see the impact it had on their families.
"There is a lot of road trauma around Christmas with people travelling long distances, having a little too much to drink from time to time and getting involved in the silly season," he said.
"It's their families we get to know a little but we can't begin to understand what they're going through.
"They walk around a bit shell-shocked when their relatives are here.
"Even the ones that do live often have lifelong injuries beyond intensive care."
Dr Visser said the impact can be taxing on medical staff, particularly cases involving young children who become victims of road crashes.
"I guess it all adds up over the course of your career.
"There's been a couple of major traumas involving children in the Toowoomba district over the past couple of years and I still remember them quite vividly.
"These are usually young productive members of society who, with one single event, can change their life forever. Even one life saved or a terrible injury prevented is worthwhile."