Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Seymour dad home for Christmas

Shane Barnbrook will spend his first Christmas in two years at home after a long stay in hospital and rehabilitation.

JENNA BISHOP December 24, 2013 4:44am

Sarah and Shane Barnbrook, pictured with children Katie, 4, Seth, 6, and Aurora, 22 months, are excited to spend their first Christmas at home.

Christmas celebrations will be extra special this festive season for the Barnbrook family, who will spend their first Christmas at home together in two years.

After a lengthy stay in hospital and rehabilitation centres, father-of-three Shane Barnbrook has returned to Seymour after swallowing a chicken bone in February 2012, which perforated his bowel and left him with profound sepsis and polyneuropathy, a life-threatening neurological disorder which causes nerve malfunction.

Wife Sarah said the couple’s three children — Seth, 6, Katie, 4, and Aurora, 22 months — were incredibly excited they would get to spend Christmas at home with their father.

‘‘Last year it was hard to celebrate Christmas with everyone apart, the kids were opening their presents and I was the only one who got to enjoy that,’’ she said.

The family will celebrate Christmas at Mr Barnbrook’s mother’s Seymour home, with his brothers and sisters returning to town for the special occasion.

It was a long and bumpy journey to get home, but the Barnbrook family wasn’t one to give up easily.

Mr Barnbrook said there were plenty of false alarms pending his release from the rehabilitation centre, but eventually the long-awaited day came.

‘‘I couldn’t believe it was going to happen until it actually happened,’’ he said.

‘‘To be able to come home was really good.’’

Mrs Barnbrook said Mr Barnbrook’s first days in the intensive care unit were touch and go after the initial surgery to repair his perforated bowel.

Weeks later, however, Mr Barnbrook was still precariously ill and doctors were at a loss as to the cause.

‘‘The doctors came in and said we don’t have many options left,’’ Mrs Barnbrook said.

The next day, Mr Barnbrook was booked in for another round of exploratory surgery, when surgeons eventually found the secondary infection that was keeping him from recovering.

Despite the doctors’ best efforts, Mr Barnbrook was left paralysed from the neck down, a complication arising from the lengthy infection.

‘‘Because he was so ill for so long, his nerves started dying,’’ Mrs Barnbrook said.

He was eventually discharged in May and spent eight months in rehabilitation re-learning how to control his fine and gross motor skills, although it will take years to completely regain full movement.

‘‘This year when we saw that Shane coming home was a distinct possibility, we began to think what we would need, what equipment we would need in the house and what we would need to plan for,’’ Mr Barnbrook said.

It was the Seymour community’s spirit of generosity which came to the family’s rescue after they started the Please Bring Daddy Home campaign on social media.

A Winter Carnival was held at Kings Park in July, raising more than $16000 to help purchase equipment Mr Barnbrook would need to return home, including a wheelchair and bathroom modifications.

‘‘It was a real family thing, so people came along with their kids and played games, and we had face painting, jumping castles and other things,’’ Mrs Barnbrook said.

The spirit of generosity didn’t stop there, with the Seymour community rallying behind the family to help modify the house for the return of Mr Barnbrook, an involved community member and a past Centenary medal recipient for his services to the community.

Several builders, who heard about the family’s plight, donated their time to modify the house; widening doorways, installing a ramp and renovating the bathroom.

Building supply stores donated materials, while a local hotel put Mrs Barnbrook and the children up during the renovations.

Mr and Mrs Barnbrook said the support from the community had completely blown them away.

‘‘When you see the lengths people go to to help, it’s a really nice feeling,’’ Mrs Barnbrook said.

‘‘(The community) has made such a big different to our lives and we can never repay that.’’

For now, it’s small baby steps of progress for the family, who simply take each day as it comes — but first, they plan to just enjoy Christmas.

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