A Grealy painful blow

LUKE Grealy was in a world of pain.

Lying in the emergency department of Albury Hospital he just wanted the pain to stop.

The Border track work rider had just had both his lower legs snapped like twigs after a horse reared up and flipped over and landed on him in a freak accident at Wodonga racecourse on October 9.

“I’ve never felt so much pain ever,” Grealy said.

“I’ve never broken a bone in my body but I knew straight away that both my legs were broken by the impact.

“One of my legs was left dangling and I don’t know how the bone didn’t protrude through the skin.

“But I consider myself lucky because it was only a metre difference between life and death.

“If the horse fell on my head or chest I wouldn’t be here to tell the story.”

While onlookers were quick to rush to his assistance, it was 30 agonising minutes before an ambulance arrived.

“It felt like a lifetime,” he said.

Grealy was rushed to the emergency department of Albury Hospital where he was forced to wait a further 36 hours for surgery due to a Border anomaly as to who should foot the bill.

“They asked who was paying for the operation and I said WorkCover,” he said.

“Then there was a big dispute between NSW and Victoria as to who was going to pay.

“It put me in limbo, I just had to sit in the emergency department for a day-and-a-half.

“I’m registered in both NSW and Victoria as a track rider.

“The horse and the owner are both registered in NSW.

“WorkCover NSW rejected the claim because the accident happened in Victoria.

“WorkSafe Victoria rejected the claim because my employer was registered in NSW and I live in NSW.

“WorkCover NSW eventually agreed to come to the party.

“All of a sudden I was transferred to the Albury-Wodonga Private Hospital and the operation was done.

“I required two steel rods inserted in each leg to stabilise the fracture which will remain in for at least 12 months.

“I spent the next six weeks in hospital recovering and my legs deteriorated so much I basically had to learn to walk again and build up strength in my legs.

“It is a very slow process and each day I get a bit stronger but I have got a long way to go and still rely on crutches and a walking frame.”

Eight weeks after the accident, Grealy still hasn’t received a cent from WorkCover.

“They are meant to cover the hospital bill and lost earnings since the accident,” he said.

“I was also working at the Woolworths Distribution Centre at Barnawartha part-time.

“Woolworths have been great and I have been able to access holiday and sick pay but it’s still tough.”

Grealy, 31, was a former jockey on the Border a decade ago before retiring due to weight issues.

He started riding track work again in August in a bid to return to the jockey ranks.

“But at the moment I’m more concerned with walking and running than riding a horse,” he said.

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