Finding the old Scott - Scott’s Story
If you were to come across Scott Clark, you would find a family man. An enthusiastic worker, who undertakes long physically demanding hours as a butcher, a union delegate, a leader of his local motorsport club.
What you may not see when you come across Scott is that at the end of 2020 he nearly lost his life after a car incident left him with a broken body, and a traumatic brain injury.
Before his accident, Scott worked as a freezing worker for ANZCO. It was a physically demanding job, requiring high levels of hand-eye coordination, while remaining quick and tidy. He would pride himself in his work, where he had spent 19 years of his life. He was a trusted member of the team, nominated by his room of 35 to represent them as a union delegate, and would even sharpen their knives.
As well as his work, Scott would pride himself in his hobbies. He loved his cars and was a member of the Ashburton Car Club Committee where he would help organise street sprints, track, and other events.
“That's the sort of person that I found it hard to try and get back to,” says Scott, “It's been a very, very challenging year.”
Coming to the end of 2020, Scott noted that the club had not done a gravel event for a few years. As he lived out in the country, he raised his hand and offered to scout a gravel track in rural Ashburton.
And so, Scott got hard at work in not only the creation of the event, but the improvement of his own car. He did not only want to create his own event and have a go, he wanted to be a contender!
As well as the hours it took to organise the event, Scott was working overtime at work, which involved eleven-hour days. As the event drew near, he worked for fourteen days straight for eleven hours, while also spending long nights working on his car to make it the best it could be.
One night, Scott worked on his car at his brother's workshop until 3am, before deciding to drive home.
“I should have stayed the night at his place. I should have stayed on the couch, that would have been much safer.”
Around 4:30am, Scott fell asleep while driving and hit a power pole, not too distant from his home. It was a rainy night and he was not found until 7am, soaking wet and unconscious.
The ambulance arrived at 7:45am, and Scott was eventually airlifted to Christchurch Hospital. He was so cold from his time in the rain that they could not take his temperature until they made it back to the hospital.
Scott's month-long stay in the hospital included six days in an induced coma, as well as surgery to both his hip and ankle. He had a hematoma in the head, bruising and bleeding in the brain, and a traumatic brain injury.
“It was kind of weird because I actually don't remember the first three weeks after the accident. I didn't even know how to use a straw. It's not until you look back at how bad you were, that you realize how far you've come. It is amazing to see, but scary to go through.”
Naturally, recovery on this scale would present a huge challenge, as Scott had to relearn the basics of walking, talking, and self-care. After a month in hospital, Scott found himself in regular sessions with us at the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust in psychology, physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy.
“It was very painful. And I felt like everyone is going to be expecting Scott to be back. But sessions with David my psychologist helped hugely. He’d say 'if you're going to climb a mountain, don't look up to the top, take it day by day.' He's helped me a lot through this”
A second surgery to the hip eight months after the first meant he had to learn how to walk a second time, setting back his recovery once again. Through the challenges, Scott continued to focus on his future with the support of staff.
“The staff are lovely, and they’re all like psychologists in a way too. They’re someone to help you through the tough times, talk through the complications you’ve been having, and why you are feeling the way you are. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”
“It has been a real pleasure and privilege to work with Scott and his family on his rehabilitation journey,” says Laura Silcock, one of our wonderful Speech-Language Therapists who worked closely with Scott. “It has been phenomenal to see how far he has come. Scott is incredibly driven and motivated, exceeding expectations and achieving all of the goals that he has set for himself. Despite experiencing setbacks along the way, Scott always greets us with a smile and works hard in every session. The results that he has achieved are a true testament to his work ethic and supportive network, especially his wife Lisa.”
A little over a year after his accident, Scott has recently returned to part-time work as a freezing worker, with the plan to return to full-time work by the end of February. To prepare, he has been working half days, before heading onto the gym to strengthen himself.
“The harder you work now, the easier it is going to be in the long run. That is the way I have had to work through this brain injury.”
Scott has also made a triumphant return to motorsport, recently taking part in a gravel event where he placed fifth in a field of 27. In previous years, he had twice been club champion by gaining the most points in their 15-20 races each year. While reclaiming the title may be out of immediate reach, Scott thinks he can claim it again in the future. He also hopes to one day return to his role as a union delegate.
While one may think Scott's plans for the future may be too ambitious, Scott says working hard is the best advice he can give to those going through traumatic brain injury.
“One of the best pieces of advice that I got that I can pass on I got from my GP, he said 'whatever you do, do not shelter yourself, don’t hide from things. If opportunities are there, take them.' At first, I didn’t leave my lounge, I wanted to hide away. Taking opportunities is the best thing you can do for yourself.”
With his wife Lisa by his side, as well as his kids Max, Kyle, and Keeley, Scott has worked hard to return to “the old Scott.” However, if you were to come across Scott today, you would not find the old Scott. You would find a stronger man, with an incredible outlook on life, and an inspirational story to tell.
“I want to try and inspire even one person in a similar situation to mine. You will climb out of this hole. You might think ‘how am I ever going to get out of this?’ or ‘hopefully one day I wake up and it will all be better,’ but it’s not like that. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is a way out of this hole.”