Resident Suzanne Berry in her apartment.
Resident Suzanne Berry in her apartment.

‘My ribs went through my liver and lungs’

A CIGARETTE break almost a decade ago had devastating consequences for Suzanne Berry.

The talented artist - who also has epilepsy - was renting a three-storey apartment when she decided to go out onto her balcony for a cigarette.

"I sat on the balcony and seized and fell off," she said.

"I took out a 6m fence beneath me and landed on the concrete and fractured my skull.

"I got four brain injuries, and I broke my ribs on my left hand side.

"One rib went through my liver, one rib went through my lungs."

Ms Berry also broke her spine and shattered her left hip, which meant she needed a hip replacement.

"I had a long time in hospital," she said.

"I'd lost my memories and didn't remember anything. It was hard for my family at first because I didn't recognise them."

Ms Berry now uses a wheelchair and lives with a spinal injury, and is one of the residents of MS Queensland's Springfield Apartments, which were officially opened last week.

It's the first complex to open as part of Project Dignity 120 - with MS Queensland committing to raise funds for 120 new high-need, independent living apartments across the state to combat a long-term shortage of housing for people with medical conditions such as MS.

When Ms Berry saw her new apartment, she couldn't stop taking photos.

"I was beside myself, and I have never seen my dad so happy in my life," he said.

"He grinned and said: 'you are blessed - finally we can relax'.

"Because MS Queensland stepped in, they don't have to parent me at 44."

Ms Berry strives to be as independent as possible, but help is on hand when she needs it.

"I've been given opportunities I thought I'd never have," she said.

"People have had confidence in me, which has given me my confidence back."