Post-cy­clone mystery ill­ness de­stroys the calm af­ter storm

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

JUST when Brett Young thought he’d weath­ered the storm, a mystery in­fec­tion left him in a coma.

Brett’s wife Tanya Ber­tram re­mained strong and op­ti­mistic through­out the or­deal, her voice barely wa­ver­ing as she spoke of what it was like fac­ing the like­li­hood of her hus­band’s death.

“The doc­tors told me to get the fam­ily down to say their fi­nal good­byes to Brett. It was a hor­rific time,” she said.

“Ev­ery­thing pre­sented nor­mally to doc­tors, but Brett was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­vere re­ac­tion in his lungs.”

With his con­di­tion rapidly de­clin­ing, Mr Young was raced from Proser­pine Hos­pi­tal to Mackay, where he was placed in an in­duced coma just a week af­ter the nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

He re­mained paral­ysed and se­dated for a month.

“It wasn’t an easy time. We were told if he passed a cer­tain point he would have per­ma­nent brain dam­age and re­stricted move­ment,” Ms Ber­tram said.

“They would al­ways say ‘if’ he wakes up, not ‘when’, which painted a bleak fore­cast.”

Af­ter hav­ing en­dured nu­mer­ous heart at­tacks and a stroke, Mr Young’s road to re­cov­ery had only just be­gun.

Ms Ber­tram was forced to break the lease of their new home to stay in Red Cross cri­sis ac­com­mo­da­tion to be by her hus­band’s side while he fought for his life in a Mackay ICU ward.

Once Mr Young amazed doc­tors by wak­ing from a coma, he still had to re­gain ba­sic move­ment.

“He couldn’t even move his legs, he couldn’t buzz the nurses,” Ms Ber­tram said.

Mr Young de­fied the odds by walk­ing again and nar­rowly es­caped se­ri­ous brain dam­age, but his lungs are re­duced to 30 per cent ca­pac­ity due to per­ma­nent scar­ring.

“I can get stronger and I will. I owe it to ev­ery­one who be­lieved in me,” he said.

A po­ten­tial lung trans­plant could have Mr Young re­turn­ing to full health but would re­quire the cou­ple to re­lo­cate to a metro area and leave be­hind

Air­lie Beach.

“It would present a whole lot of other chal­lenges and Air­lie is home now,” Mr Young said.

Af­ter eight months split be­tween Mackay and Townsville hos­pi­tals, Mr Young and Ms Ber­tram were able to re­turn home to Air­lie.

With the fur­ni­ture that tied them to Air­lie still in stor­age, the cou­ple will fi­nalise the pur­chase of Quad­rant Ma­rine this week, a ven­ture put on hold through the or­deal.

“The shop will al­low Brett to still be in­volved in the boat­ing world,” Ms Ber­tram said.

While he hasn’t been able to sail his yacht Hay­wire since his ill­ness, the cou­ple have man­aged to get out onto the wa­ter with a friend at the helm.

“There’s not enough about the health haz­ards post nat­u­ral dis­as­ters,” Mr Young said.

“Ev­ery­thing in the air is in­ten­si­fied and, as I’ve learnt, spores and bac­te­ria can cause se­vere health reper­cus­sions.

“We thought we’d got off lightly, but the clean-up of a friend’s house al­most cost me my life.”

PHOTO: TAMERA FRAN­CIS

ROUGH SAILING: Tanya Ber­tram and Brett Young at Abell Point Ma­rina in front of their yacht Hay­wire.

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