Unwavering strength, resilience, and grit shines in road to recovery

02/05/2023. By Carmelle Wilkinson.

Curtin graduate Ted Lee

Ted Lee at his graduation in February this year.

Tuesday April 20, 2021 started out like any other day.

Curtin mechanical engineering graduate Ted Lee was cruising along Tonkin Highway on his motorbike headed for uni.

Eight weeks out from completing his studies, he could almost see the finish line, when tragedy struck.

“I remember riding to uni that day, the sky was a little overcast and being peak hour, it was quite busy on the roads, but nothing out of the ordinary,’’ Ted said.

“I misjudged the distance between myself and a 4WD and clipped it, which caused me to fall off my bike and onto the road.

“Unfortunately, a semi-trailer just happened to be passing by at that exact moment and it went right over me.”

Ted said while the moments following the accident were a little hazy, he could never erase the pain he felt all over.

“Everything was in slow motion, but I remember the pain, everywhere hurt,’’ he said.

Thirteen days later Ted opened his eyes in an ICU ward at Royal Perth Hospital.

“I was in such a bad way when I arrived that the doctors placed me into a medically induced coma,’’ he said.

“My parents were told I had a two per cent chance of survival.”

Ted in hospital with family

Ted celebrated his 23rd birthday at hospital with his family by his side.

Ted’s catastrophic injuries included severed arteries, several broken bones and damaged spinal nerves which led to paraplegia.

“I lost a scary amount of blood, I am very lucky to be alive,’’ he said.

After a month and a half in ICU, Ted was moved into a trauma ward for another three months.

“This was probably the hardest time in my life, I went to a dark place,’’ Ted said.

“The room I was in had no windows, so I’d spend my days just staring at the ceiling and going through the motions. Waking, eating and then wishing to go back to sleep.

“I can’t recall how many times I broke down, but it was a lot.

“If it weren’t for my incredible girlfriend and my mum and dad, I couldn’t have done it.”

After 275 days in hospital and 30 surgeries, Ted was finally able to go home.

Ted in wheelchair

After more than nine months in hospital, Ted was thrilled to head home.

Despite the limitations that came with being in a wheelchair Ted was more determined than ever to return to Curtin and complete his degree.

“After all that I put my family through I not only wanted to do this for me, I wanted to do this for them,’’ he said.

“To make them proud.”

Returning to campus had its challenges, however, Ted credits his supportive professors and peers for making the transition as smooth as possible.

“My professors made sure that I could complete my laboratory-based thesis within the constraints of my health and safety limitations, and I cannot express how grateful I am for that,’’ he said.

“I was also very fortunate that Curtin is quite accessible, so aside from maybe taking longer to get to class because I had to avoid the stairs, it wasn’t that difficult.”

Earlier this year, Ted graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (with First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Finance (with Distinction).

Ted at graduation with his dad Lawrence, mum Josephine, girlfriend Grace Wilkerson and sister Amy.

He’s also started working for an engineering consultancy firm where he carries out hydraulic calculations, system modelling and engineering design work.

Initially, drawn to Curtin for its focus on sustainability and social impact in engineering, Ted hopes to one day make positive change in the field, where he can lead projects that create meaningful social, economic, and environmental benefits.

He also hopes to somehow use his story of survival to help others.

“I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do, but I have been asked to give talks,’’ he said.

“I’d like to use my story in a positive way though, I don’t want to stand up there and preach to others about the dangers of riding a motorcycle.”

However, Ted admits he humbly regrets ever purchasing one.

“I wish someone had stopped me. My parents tried, but I was young and stubborn and many of my friends had motorcycles,’’ he said.

“My mum even tried to make some crazy deal with me, like if I bought the motorbike, I had to eat red meat again. At the time I was a vegetarian.

“While I have many regrets, this is actually something I’ve only recently come to accept.

“There were times in the past where I wished the truck had finished me off, but reaching where I am today, I am so grateful. Some riders aren’t as lucky.”

While life may have new challenges, Ted maintains a positive outlook and hopes his story can help others overcome their own personal struggles.

“I would never assume to know what other students are going through, but if you do have personal things going on and are finding it hard to balance uni then my advice is to take your time,’’ he said.

“Go at your own pace, no one can judge you for that.

“You don’t have to put all this pressure on yourself. Don’t be afraid to take a step back every now and then if you need it, and when you’re ready you can fully recommit.

“I think when you’re mentally ready you perform better. I don’t think I could have gone back and finished my degree if I wasn’t mentally ready.”

Two years on, Ted is determined to move on and live his best life.

“The other day my girlfriend and I received the keys to our new home, and we are now looking forward to moving in,’’ he said.

And while, the former travel enthusiast won’t be climbing the Rockies again anytime soon, it doesn’t seem to faze him.

“There will be other adventures. I’m just happy I’ve reached a place where I am at peace and happy and I hope I can use my story to inspire others in some way,’’ he said.

___

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Growing up in Perth’s northern suburbs, Curtin Film and TV graduate Zak Hilditch felt like Hollywood was a million miles away from his home in Girrawheen, but he dared to dream. 🎥🎞️

Twenty years later, the writer and director is living his passion, bringing stories to life through film.

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📸: The Hollywood Reporter.

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#CurtinUniversity #CurtinCommons #CurtinAlumni #OldBoy #Author #Writer #Adulthood #Author #AustralianStory #WesternAustralia

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Georgia shares her father’s fascinating story in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

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📍: Buildings 202, 203 and 212 at the Curtin Bentley campus.
 
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📍: Buildings 202, 203 and 212 at the Curtin Bentley campus.
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #CurtinGradShow23 #FineArts #Graduates #Exhibition #PerthArt #PerthArtists #FineArtGallery #ArtExhibition
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Read about Raleigh’s impressive work via the link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #AlumniAwards #MiningEngineer #Mining #Engineering #Leadership #Career #MiningCareer

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“It’s an honour and privilege to be the 2023 winner.

“I’d tell my younger self to be open-minded, surround yourself with a good team. You don’t need to know everything and be open to wherever your career may take you.”

Read about Raleigh’s impressive work via the link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #AlumniAwards #MiningEngineer #Mining #Engineering #Leadership #Career #MiningCareer
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help mitigate the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.

Now working as a senior dietitian and diabetes educator, Savina plays a pivotal role in fostering positive lifestyle changes, promoting nutritional awareness, and enhancing the quality of life for those navigating the challenges of life with diabetes.

 
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𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐥𝐝?
A: One of the most surprising aspects of diabetes that many people may not know is the intricate interplay between mental health and diabetes management. Working in the field has highlighted the profound impact that stress, anxiety, and depression can have on blood sugar levels and overall well-being for individuals with diabetes. Recognising and addressing the psychological aspects of diabetes is an integral part of comprehensive care.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐛?
A: Witnessing the positive changes in someone's health and well-being, knowing that I played a role in empowering them to manage their diabetes effectively is incredibly rewarding.
 
Get inspired, and dive into more graduate stories in #CurtinCommons via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #WorldDiabetesDay #Diabetes #DiabetesAwareness #Dietitian #Healthcare #MentalHealth #Career

Curtin Nutrition graduate Savina Rego felt compelled to help improve the lives of the more than one million Australians living with diabetes. 🎓

After witnessing the pervasive impact of diabetes on people’s health and wellbeing early on in her career, Savina knew she had to
help mitigate the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.

Now working as a senior dietitian and diabetes educator, Savina plays a pivotal role in fostering positive lifestyle changes, promoting nutritional awareness, and enhancing the quality of life for those navigating the challenges of life with diabetes.

 
This #WorldDiabetesDay, Savina shares the most surprising things she has learnt in her career. 👇
 
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐥𝐝?
A: One of the most surprising aspects of diabetes that many people may not know is the intricate interplay between mental health and diabetes management. Working in the field has highlighted the profound impact that stress, anxiety, and depression can have on blood sugar levels and overall well-being for individuals with diabetes. Recognising and addressing the psychological aspects of diabetes is an integral part of comprehensive care.

𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐛?
A: Witnessing the positive changes in someone`s health and well-being, knowing that I played a role in empowering them to manage their diabetes effectively is incredibly rewarding.
 
Get inspired, and dive into more graduate stories in #CurtinCommons via the link in bio. 👆
 
#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #WorldDiabetesDay #Diabetes #DiabetesAwareness #Dietitian #Healthcare #MentalHealth #Career
...