YOU won't find Christine Gregory at an Anzac Day march this year.
It's not that she lacks respect for the nation's brave veterans, but rather that such events remain inextricably linked to the moment her life changed forever.
The day was April 25, 2005, and Ms Gregory was in Hamilton to watch then-husband Bob Chandler take his place with former soldiers.
Keen to capture a few photos, she stepped on to a small brick retaining wall in the city's central business district and peered down the street.
A band played as the men marched, their arms swinging in unison and medals gleaming. Ms Gregory pressed the shutter button.
The next thing she remembers is waking up in Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, a breathing tube in her throat. More than two days had passed, and the risk of death continued to linger.
Gradually the mother of two was able to piece her story together. She'd fainted while atop the wall, plunging face-first on to the road and sustaining massive head injuries.
"They did two operations that morning in Hamilton to relieve the pressure - they had to shave all my hair and everything," she said.
"They brought the trauma team in from Melbourne; they did the second operation before they flew me out, and did another operation that night in Melbourne.
"It was three (operations) in one day, and there was two litres of blood and a blood clot taken out."
Ms Gregory was placed in an induced coma before being woken on Wednesday night.
"I remember them taking the tube out. I thought I was in a concentration camp when I woke up and I started abusing everyone," she said.
Her two young sons arrived the next day with Mr Chandler, but the scene was anything but reassuring.
"They saw me with my head (swollen) out like a football; I was on life support and that scared the crap out of the kids," Ms Gregory said.
The swelling quickly subsided, but a full recovery would take far longer.
Doctors used 120 staples to close wounds left after surgery on the Portland resident, who spent three weeks in hospital and a further fortnight at a Caulfield rehabilitation centre.
"By the time I left (hospital) I could open a litre of milk," Ms Gregory said.
"I lost the use of my left arm; I could feel it, I just couldn't use it.
"I put a lot of bone fragments in the brain, and apparently (damaged) the film that's between my brain and my skull. The doctor I saw a couple of years ago said I was very lucky to be here."
There has been no conclusive reason given for the sudden loss of consciousness that saw this hard-working woman hit the road with such force.
"They've done an MRI and nothing came up," Ms Gregory said, adding that she suffered from severe headaches for six weeks before the accident.
"The only explanation that agrees with it all is the chiropractor I was seeing says my body had had enough of the pain and it just shut down."
Almost six years have passed since that dreadful day, though Ms Gregory said its lessons were ever-present.
Coming so close to death prompted a reconciliation with her sister, and a lingering sense that stress serves no real purpose.
"(There was) a determination to get up and going again - determination goes a long way," the 41-year-old said.
"If I can't do something I'll ask for help, but if I know I can do something . . . I'll get out and do it.
"If I'm tired - I got a migraine the other night for the first time in ages - I'll go and rest."
Portlanders may recognise Ms Gregory from one of her three jobs: she is a part-time crossing attendant at Portland Primary School, cleans the William Dutton Motel and has just taken on a new role at the local Returned and Services League.
"I had my first night at the RSL on Monday and I ended up waitressing as well; I'm still working on the strength in my left hand so I was hoping that I wasn't going to drop (food) on anyone, but I did well," she said.
"When people have a major accident, they lose something. They could lose a limb . . . to me, I lost my confidence.
"Now that has just gone through the roof."
Amid her busy schedule Ms Gregory finds time to breed cockatiels, and has also rediscovered cross-stitch after giving it away due to her arm injury.
"I'll help anyone. I love helping people, and I've learned not to stress on anything. I've got to try and get out of the box," she said.
"The kids broke a window one day and I said, 'It's only glass. You can fix it'. It can be replaced - I couldn't have been."
She urged anyone else dealing with a sudden health setback to take satisfaction from every achievement.
"Try and make every day a productive day, and stay positive," she said.
"I went through in the last couple of years a breakdown and depression - I just didn't want to be here.
"I've got over that and made sure that every day is a productive day. We're here for some reason."