'IT WAS TORTURE': Critically injured cop's plea to drivers
SHE'S "not a big unit" but Ellie Jupp's fight for life while in ICU was so powerful five people couldn't hold her down as she thrashed on the hospital bed.
The Nambour-based policewoman was riding her motorbike home from work on January 24 when she slammed into a car that pulled out in front of her, marking the start of a four-week battle for life.
Ellie is now living with a serious brain injury, permanent nerve damage in her right arm that means daily pain medication, and is facing at least seven more months before she's likely to return to work.
Her mother Julie Ryan recalled the horror of the weeks after the crash, when nobody knew whether or not her daughter would survive, and described her "fighter" daughter's battle toward recovery.
"(It) was torture for Ellie, and torture for us," she said.
As Ellie lay unconscious and intubated at the Royal Brisbane Hospital's intensive care unit, Julie and Ellie's husband Jason were beside her every time staff deliberately "backed off" medications to check the progress of her injury, Julie said.
"In that time, as she comes to, she would start fighting, trying to pull out tubes," she said.
"Three medical staff, Ellie's husband, and myself, couldn't hold her down. She then had to be restrained like she was a baddy...hands and feet tied to the bed."
In a cruel twist for her family, Ellie was rushed back to intensive care a week after she'd stabilised and been moved to a ward.
"I was okay until the second time Ellie had to go back in to intensive care...I'd got to the point of, 'phew - she's going to make it'.
"Going back into intensive care, I had to call a couple of my girlfriends and say, 'I'm all done, I don't have anything left in the tank...I really need you to tell me what to do or say or think'. It was very hard, because then...she was back on a knife edge."
Exactly five months after the accident, Ellie shared her story in the hope it would motivate drivers to pay "total attention" and understand how serious the consequences for bad driving decisions could be on the whole community.
There are no obvious signs of the damage to her brain, which is permanently bruised, but by early afternoon she becomes fatigued and struggles to find words and make decisions.
Anyone who knew her before the crash would have described her as "cruisy", Ellie said, but since the crash she can be frustrated and irritable as she struggles to communicate.
She can't read to her children at night anymore, or pack their lunches.
"After being in hospital for a month and getting home, I've learnt the serious impact it's had (not only) on my husband, my children, my mum, my family, my friends - but on all the other motorbike riders," she said.
Her supervisor at work had been inundated by messages of support for her recovery, to the point where he sent out weekly "Juppdate" emails to her colleagues as he learned of her recovery.
"This didn't happen to Ellie, this happened to a mum that's like us, or a police officer that's like us, or a motorbike rider that's like us," she said.
So many police officers had gone straight to Sunshine Coast University Hospital's rescuscitation unit after learning of the crash that it was "a sea of blue".
The biggest tragedy, Julie said, would be if her daughter wasn't able to return to work, as she's a "wonderful" police officer.
Sunshine Coast central patrol group officer Inspector Jason Overland said he hoped Ellie would return to work when she was ready "in a fully operational capacity".
He said motorcycles were overrepresented in vehicle accidents.
"We ask that people take the extra seconds - 'sorry mate, I didn't' see you' wears a bit thin after a while."
The driver of the car that pulled out in front of Ellie Jupp has been charged and is yet to appear in court.