Wellness for every body

Motorbike and Car Accident Injuries

Ziggi Bjornsson has met serious misadventure twice, first having a motorbike accident in 1974 in Iceland, which ruined his leg, and then a minor car accident in 1995 in Auckland, which compounded his previous injuries. By 2003, life had become nearly unbearable, with arthritis setting in to further aggravate Ziggi’s chronic pain condition.


“I tried everything, including all sorts of medications, you name it,” says Ziggi, who was experiencing a rapid decline in quality of life. “I even tried Prozac for a year, but I lost my smile, I didn’t know myself anymore.”


The turning point for Ziggi came in 2003 when he treated himself to a holiday in Fiji. “I was lost when I asked myself the question ‘who am I?’ and realised I needed to make changes.”


Flashback to 2002, when visiting yet another specialist, Ziggi first learnt of QE Health. Ziggi, who despite his painful condition had never taken time off work from his role in a collections call centre, had previously approached ACC but had not been deemed as suitable for compensation. As such, Ziggi failed to obtain endorsement from ACC for his specialist referral to QE Health.


“After Fiji, I decided to try again,” says Ziggi. Calls to ACC revealed that Ziggi’s file had been closed, but persistence paid off. “I had never beenoff work, but the accumulated stress through my neck and back was unreal. I told ACC that I was at the point now of quitting work.”

Finally, Ziggi’s request was granted, and in April 2004 he was admitted to QE Health’s three-week intensive chronic pain management programmeme. The experienced proved life changing.


“I figured out quite quickly from the group I was here with, that if your friends and family don’t support you, you won’t succeed.” Ziggi admits that along with his body, his behaviour had deteriorated over time, alienating those closest to him. “I knew that I had to change my attitude, so I opened myself up to what I had to do.”


For Ziggi it was the education component at QE Health that really drove the transformation, especially the communication lessons learnt. “I believe the teachings I had at QE helped me enormously. It was brilliant, everyone needs a bloody good push once or twice in their life, and this was it for me.”


Ziggi says that accompanying his emotional transformation was a physical one. “At 50 years of age, off came my 25-year moustache to reveal my new self!” Ziggi also worked hard on reducing his reliance on medications and alcohol and revolutionising his diet and exercise regimes. Swimming was initially built into Ziggi’s programmeme, non-impact aerobic exercise, which he has since replaced with walking, something he now enjoys.


Today, Ziggi says he is a different person than his old self prior to his experience at QE Health. “QE Health has given me guidance for a better life in the future. It was the best thing that could ever happen to me. After the first couple of weeks, I couldn’t stop singing, I was so happy! Now I can cope much better with anything that is thrown at me. I feel that from the time I entered QE I have never looked back. Sure, I’ve had knock backs, this is never over, but I constantly work at it. You have to choose your moments, the key is to make most of them happy ones. It’s easy to get into a negative downward spiral, you have to work on your ‘happy mode’ every day. I really believe that you are the master of your own destiny.”


Ziggi’s favourite example of his changed outlook on life is his new and improved approach to Auckland rush-hour traffic. “I used to stress so much, but then I realised, that like everything else, I could change my attitude to this situation. I think it’s important to realise that you don’t have to take on conflicts. Now I sing in traffic, and blow kisses to rude people, and everyone thinks I’m mad!” The same ethos has also proved invaluable to Ziggi’s workday. “With over 120,000 calls coming in each month to our call centre, attitude is so important. It’s just so important to laugh sometimes!”


Having achieved a remarkable transformation himself, Ziggi is looking at ways in which he can help others in similar situations. “I probably would have been six feet under by now if I hadn’t come to QE Health. I just want others to be aware that they can make positive changes, and that there are people and organisations out there to help. I am especially interested in helping young people – there are a lot out there who have lost their way and are perhaps unlikely to become productive citizens without intervention. I want to help them to gain a different perspective of life.”


Ziggi Bjornsson
May 2005