Freak mowing accident leaves man half-deaf
MACKAY man JD Bender was mowing his parents' lawn when a "freak accident" left him in excruciating pain and half-deaf.
"I was pulling the mower backwards and when I turned around to see where this plant was, I turned my head straight into it and it entered my ear," he said.
"As soon as it happened, it was almost like a popping noise inside my ear and the pain was so excruciating.
"I didn't know it was the plant. I thought I was just stung by a wasp."
Mr Bender, 32, called his sister for help and her husband drove him straight to Mackay Base Hospital that Saturday morning.
After performing a CT scan, doctors confirmed that he required emergency surgery, and he was transferred to Townsville JCU Hospital.
However, because of the possibility of pressure changes causing more damage if he was flown north, Mr Bender's wife had to drive him there and back when he was released four days later.
"It was not the results we hoped for," he said.
"The technical term is traumatic perforation to the left tympanic membrane and round window with a resulting perilymph fistula.
"I have been referred to the hospital in Mackay for ongoing treatment and to the Townsville hospital for another review.
"They will possibly be looking at doing a transplant in 12-18 months time if they are happy my balance has returned."
Mr Bender has been left with hearing loss in his left ear, as well as vestibular dysfunction, causing vertigo and imbalance, which is worsened by moving or reading.
For the next three months, he will undertake physiotherapy to try and train his right side to compensate for the lack of balance on his left.
Mr Bender, an NDIS support co-ordinator, is unable to work for at least three months.
"I may recover adequate vestibular function after three months of therapy, however there is a likelihood the damage will be chronic and my balance won't return," he said.
"There is a chance there could be some improvement to my hearing, however hearing loss might be permanent."
Mr Bender thanked the doctors and surgeons at Mackay Base and Townsville hospitals for their help and giving him the "best chance of restoring" his hearing.
He issued a warning for parents to be mindful of their children around similar plants which are like a yucca with long spiky leaves.
"Please be aware of these plants around kids, especially because two inches to the right and it could have been my eye and I would have been blinded," he said.