CARING DAUGHTER: Natalie Manasse and her mum Angela at their newly-renovated Tewantin home.
CARING DAUGHTER: Natalie Manasse and her mum Angela at their newly-renovated Tewantin home. Contributedcontributed

Building a better life just for quadriplegic mum

AT THE age of 15, I was involved in an accident where a bus driver misjudged the turn into a bus stop, resulting in the bus hitting me in the back while I was talking to a friend.

The accident caused me spinal injuries which are still prevalent to this day. After four difficult years of fighting my case, we agreed on a settlement amount, as I wanted to live a life free of that emotional stress - like a teenager should be able to.

When my mother, Angela Manasse, was six months pregnant with me, she was in a near-fatal car accident, which led to the doctors having to deliver me three months premature and left my mother a quadriplegic.

A few months after receiving the payout from my bus accident, mum was placed in the intensive care unit with a life-threatening infection.

At the time, her house (which she still lives in) was not suitable or safe for her condition - the walls were one of the main issues, being far too close together for her wheelchair to move around safely and easily, resulting in her breaking her leg.

She broke her leg twice in only a few months, which led to an infection in her leg that then spread to her lungs.

Once the infection had spread to her lungs, it became life-threatening and she was placed in the intensive care unit on life support for several days.

As soon as my father was informed of the situation, (my parents are separated and Dad has been dealing with the stress of being in a motor-vehicle accident himself, resulting in him losing a limb), he called me to let me know the absolutely horrific news about mum.

I was on holidays in Gladstone with friends, but returned home straight away in case mum didn't make it through.

It was only after returning home that day that I realised the full extent of the situation and how serious the complications were; I wasn't even allowed to talk to mum on the phone, which at a young age made it even more difficult.

Unable to sleep, and worried sick about mum, I decided overnight that I was going to rip the whole inside of the house out, and renovate it to meet the safety standards needed for her being in a wheelchair.

Within 24 hours, I had a builder there and a myriad of other qualified professionals and tradesmen, giving me quotes for the renovations. Incredibly, everything started taking place that week, as they all knew the reason behind the renovations.

After three gruelling days, mum was able to be taken off life support, although she had to be closely monitored in the hospital for over a month.

I checked on her every day, making sure she was staying strong, while I spent all of my other time working with the tradesmen on the house.

After eight weeks of non-stop work we were almost finished the interior.

We had created a whole new bedroom for mum which would enable her to move safely and easily in her wheelchair, but I started to fall short on money.

I applied for a loan at the bank, explaining why I needed the money. Surprisingly, luck came my way and I was approved, which allowed me to finish the renovations faster and have the house approved by the hospital as a safe environment, so mum could come home sooner.

Regardless of the fact that I didn't have enough money to finish the exterior of the house like I wished, I was still very happy to be able to have this surprise for mum the day she came home.

Knowing that she would be safer was such a relief.

Being only 18 turning 19, there were many other things people my age would've dreamed to spend their money on, but when it comes to my family there is nothing I wouldn't do.

Nothing else means more to me than their wellbeing and happiness.

After seeing my mother so unhappy with the situation that she was stuck with for the rest of her life being a quadriplegic, it was the least I could do to try and see her smile a little more.

After being closely monitored in the hospital for two months, she was finally allowed to return home.

The moment I opened the door, her face lit up - she was completely speechless, tears streaming down her face.

Once I knew mum was healthy enough, I went and got myself a job. I had to have spinal surgery, but the operation helped me to be stable enough to work.

Every week that I got paid, I did every little bit that I could until the interior of the house was 100% finished.

It's now been three years since the completion of the interior renovations, and I have just finished renovating the exterior as well.

I replaced the old brick pathways with new smooth, flat concrete ones for greater ease and safety, redesigned the gardens to make them a beautiful area for mum to relax, and created a new patio area which allows her to get fresh air, even when it's raining.

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