NICK Dempsey’s looking forward to seeing mates and watching footy this weekend.
The 21-year-old is back home in Lavington after more than seven months of rehabilitation since breaking his neck in a diving accident in January.
He and mother Trudy, who has been with the well-known sportsman throughout his treatment, returned to the Border on Monday.
Their homecoming, delayed a week to finalise care arrangements, occurred in time for the whole family, including Nick’s father Peter and older brothers Mitchell and Rhys, to celebrate Mrs Dempsey’s birthday on Wednesday.
“That was my birthday present to her, coming home,” Nick said, smiling.
Diagnosed with C4 quadriplegia, Nick will continue regular therapy in Melbourne and Albury to build up his strength and movement.
“I’m starting to be able to sit up myself and balance myself a little bit more,” he said. “My left arm’s stronger but my right arm has a bit more control, so that’s why I use my right hand to drive (the chair),” he said. “A lot’s working, it’s just a bit weak.”
Rehabilitation is expected to occupy him for several years.
“All the doctors, they cannot give you an answer on how you’re going to end up, everyone’s different so it depends how much I’ve progressed to what I’ll be able to do,” he said.
But Nick also intends to study construction management next year, the course he began before starting a plumbing apprenticeship.
And for now he and his mother are enjoying being among family and friends.
“Just that familiar surroundings, it feels nice, comforting,” Mrs Dempsey said.
“A part of things more; instead of just talking over the phone, you can see it.”
The family remains thankful for all the community support they are still receiving.
After so much time indoors, Nick has been outside getting some sun and playing with the dogs this week.
“Just normal things, I suppose,” he said.
A new normal, of course.
“It’s a bit strange but I’ve sort of just adapted to it,” Nick said. “I don’t really look at it and think about what it’s like before compared to now.
“I just do it now, really.”