Sweet homecoming for Beitzel family
AFTER 19 days in intensive care, four months in hospital, brain swelling and bleeds and learning to walk again, Jacqui Beitzel has come home to Blackbutt.
Jacqui, 16, faced a harrowing time after falling from a horse in July and suffering huge brain injuries.
She made a miraculous recovery and two weeks ago she returned home with her mother Gay to the town that pulled out all the stops to help them.
The community raised $10,000 in just 10 days to help cover Jacqui's medical costs and pay for her mother to be by her side in Brisbane.
Mrs Beitzel said she was overwhelmed by the support the town showed them in what was the worst year of their lives.
"Without the town, without the schools, without the mine's people I would never have been able to stay there," she said.
"But there's too many people to count and I don't want to miss anybody out.
"Blackbutt is my home town and I'm just so grateful to everybody.
"Thank you for the love, support, prayers and donations.
"Especially the prayers. A lot of people were praying."
Jacqui has little memory of the accident that happened when she was mustering cattle with her father and a school friend from Nanango on a property west of Rockhampton.
She was riding an ex-racehorse when it bolted.
"There was a cattle grid in front of me and there was also an open gate and he was turning to jump," she said.
"I'm not experienced enough to jump so I turned around and he went through the gate and turned sharply and I just kept going in that direction.
"I wish I would have tucked and rolled but..."
Jacqui hit her head as she fell, and Mrs Beitzel said the actions of her father, Scott, and her friend Chloe Winston saved her life.
"It's not really often he would take a phone mustering but this day he's had a phone and ... they had to hold her head together while they waited for the ambulance," she said.
"Her father had to ring the ambulance and then they wanted coordinates for the helicopter.
"(Chloe) had to hold her all together.
"She's had counselling but the better Jacqui got the better Chloe got."
Paramedics did not expect Jacqui to survive the flight from Rockhampton to Brisbane, with little oxygen getting to her brain and huge pressure swelling inside her skull.
Mrs Beitzel said watching her daughter lying in an induced coma in intensive care was the hardest thing she has ever done.
"I used to get head spins as soon as I walked in ICU," she said.
"I was so stressed that I'd forget to breathe.
"You don't worry about tomorrow, you think about the day that you're in and stay in that day because if you thought about tomorrow...
"With the brain they don't know, even the doctors can't tell you.
"It was the worst time of my life."
After months of occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, upper limb and cognitive therapy Jacqui has improved beyond all expectations.
The brain injuries left her with less function in the right side of her body, she had to learn to walk again and to write with her left hand instead of her right.
She still has a long way to go but is full of life and looking forward to the future.
"I want to go back to school, just complete the thing and finally go back to work," she said.
"Just kick-start my life really."