IT'S been a long journey back for Dan Soden.
After three years, multiple operations and a ton of determination, the aspiring rugby league player has made his long-awaited return for the Whitsunday Brahmans.
Soden suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck down by a vehicle at Hamilton Plains on the morning of his 19th birthday – May 27, 2007.
As a result of the accident, he was left with bruising to the brain, a broken nose, five dislodged teeth and breaks to the upper and lower jaw.
Soden's pelvis was shattered and all but two of his ribs were broken.
He also suffered a punctured lung, a lacerated liver, a smashed-up kidney, serious skin abrasions and severe bruising to his back.
“I don't know too much about what happened; I only have memory of things a few hours before,” Soden said.
“The accident certainly changed my life and the way I look at things.”
Following the horrific accident, Soden was kept in an induced coma for four days and stayed in intensive care for eight days, until he was finally moved to a ward.
“It was quite terrible at the hospital because I had no teeth and still had stitches, so my food had to be mashed up,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to have so many people come to the hospital and visit me, though.”
But the young and ambitious rugby league player faced his hardest challenge when his doctors gave him a devastating warning.
“I had to cope with the idea that I could be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” he said.
“But I always thought to myself that I'd be back walking.”
This fighting spirit has seen Soden return to the ranks at the Whitsunday Brahmans.
After an absence of three years, the 22-year-old local junior couldn't be happier.
“It's unreal to finally be back out with the boys playing, especially in front of a home crowd with everyone supporting you,” he said.
“It's just good to be back on the field.
“I didn't think I'd be back this quick to be honest, but I'm slowly getting there.”
Soden has played five games so far for the Brahmans reserve grade side.
This week he will make his starting debut for the A Grade side as he strives to one day achieve his goal of playing in the NRL.
It's a big goal, but you can't doubt his determination.
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