Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed he “narrowly avoided a life-changing injury” after a nasty fall at a holiday rental last week, breaking five ribs and injuring his spine.
After just seven days in hospital, the first few in intensive care, the premier was discharged from The Alfred on Monday and taken home to begin a long rehabilitation.
Mr Andrews later gave more details about his shock injury, detailing how he “narrowly avoided permanent damage” to his spinal cord after falling “heavily” onto wooden steps at the beach house.
“I landed flat on my back and hit the steps hard directly below the shoulder blades fracturing at least five ribs and sustaining an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra,” Mr Andrews said.
“These are serious injuries that require me to wear a brace throughout each day except when sleeping. My doctors also want me to get rest and undertake a comprehensive program of physiotherapy.”
“It’s important that I take this rest and recovery seriously,” Mr Andrews said.
“As one trauma specialist said to (wife) Cath and I last week, ‘you very narrowly avoided a life-changing injury, you should buy a Tattslotto ticket, you are very lucky to be here in one piece.’
“I’m not sure about the Tattslotto ticket but I’m certain that with rest, continued high-quality care and the support of family, friends, colleagues and the Victorian community, I’ll be back doing the job I love as soon as possible.”
Mr Andrews confirmed he will take a leave of absence from his duties for six weeks.
The Alfred’s director of trauma services Professor Mark Fitzgerald said Mr Andrews had responded well without surgery so far.
“Mr Andrews has responded well without surgery so far, and the work to improve his strength and mobility must now begin,” he said.
“As the rehabilitation journey gets underway, we will watch closely for any signs of worsening spinal stability or alignment, as well as the development of other complications.
Professor Fitzgerald said that when a person has a spinal injury of this nature, “stability and alignment of the spine can be maintained without surgery”.
The Alfred said Mr Andrews would do his rehabilitation through its Better@Home service.
The premie was initially treated at Peninsula Private Hospital but transferred to Alfred Trauma Centre in Melbourne after specialists assessed an MRI scan.
He was cleared of any internal or head injuries.
“Heartfelt thanks to the entire team at @AlfredHealth for taking such good care of me. We’re so very grateful,” Mr Andrews tweeted on Wednesday.
The Alfred Hospital said in a statement that he is making good progress, but again warns that he faces a lengthy time in rehabilitation.
Deputy Premier James Merlino is serving as acting premier in Mr Andrews’ absence.
“He’s fine, he was up and about … but this is the first few days since he suffered this serious injury, so his focus is getting better and the care he needs,” he said.
On Saturday, he tweeted that he was was getting out of ICU and into “new digs”.
On Sunday night, the premier, in good spirits, tweeted a photo of artwork and get well messages from children who attend the Alfred Child Care Centre, referencing the iconic Australian movie The Castle, saying the drawings were ‘straight to the pool room”.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said she was surprised Mr Andrews was out of hospital so soon.
“We can take that a really positive sign. That’s good news for him,” she said.
“It has been really heartening to see the news come through this morning about Daniel’s recovery. He obviously has a journey ahead, but he’s recovering strongly.
“We’ll hold the fort in parliament this week while he continue the important focus on his recovery.”
His rehabilitation will be done at home through the Alfred’s Better@Home service.