After riding his motorcycle into a front-end loader on his Glenfyne farm, Dennis Rosolin knows he is lucky to be alive.
He had to be flown to a Melbourne hospital after suffering an horrific head injury that even now still impacts his day-to-day life on his dairy farm almost two years later.
Mr Rosolin is sharing his story during farm safety week in the hope it makes others stop and think.
"It's never you until it is," he said. "We've all had close shaves. We've got to learn from that.
"We've got to be a bit more careful about what we do and how we do it and do things a bit slower.
"I'm lucky to be here."
The accident happened on November 6, 2020.
Mr Rosolin had been been on the tractor the night before but left the front-end loader about two metres off the ground - something he never does.
"The next morning we walked past it after milking and I said to the boys 'I should put that down, that's dangerous there'," he said.
"We only had to open the cab door and pull the handle. You wouldn't have had to start it, just the weight of it would have come down but we didn't."
After lunch he hopped on the motorbike and did what he had a habit of doing while riding across to the dairy - he stood up.
And as Mr Rosolin puts it, all his "ducks lined up in a row".
"I left the front-end loader up and I never leave it up, not in 40-odd years. I had an opportunity to put it down and I didn't. Was driving too fast, wasn't looking where I was going, wasn't wearing a helmet," he said.
"It just got me. I hit it from side on and it got me across the forehead. For the fraction of a second before I passed out I knew exactly what I had done."
Mr Rosolin thinks he was going about 35 km/h - "fast enough when you hit something that won't move".
"I just wasn't looking where I was going. I'd been through there a million times and there'd never been a front-end loader there," he said.
"I woke up on the ground."
When he came to a minute, or probably more later, Mr Rosolin put his hand up to his head which was "wet with blood".
"There was a flap of skin hanging down and blood everywhere so I pushed it up," he said. He was later told that the pool of blood left on the gravel track was about half a metre wide.
Mr Rosolin managed to get back on the motorbike and ride back to the house which was about 100 metres away, the whole time holding one hand to his forehead.
His eldest daughter was home and came to see what was wrong.
"I took my hand away for a fraction of a second ... and she just screamed," he said.
But it wasn't until the ambulance officer later told Mr Rosolin that he would have to be flown to Melbourne rather than be taken to a nearby hospital that he knew his injury was serious.
"That was when the severity of the incident hit me that this wasn't just a Band-Aid fix," he said.
By the time Mr Rosolin was being wheeled into the back of the ambulance on a stretcher he'd started to shake and was "obviously going into shock".
He doesn't remember much after that other than waking in the air ambulance half way to Melbourne to vomit before going back to sleep.
"The next thing I know I'm in emergency. I don't remember landing or being put through the scans," he said.
Doctors first stitched up his head wound, and days later inserted a plate under his eyeball to hold it in place.
"Apparently your eyeball sits on a thin layer of bone like eggshell and when you have trauma, if your eyeball needs to move that eggshell bone will shatter but it doesn't grow back," he said.
The next day they decided they didn't get the surgery right and operated again, taking out the plate to bend it before putting it back in.
Despite the trauma of what he had gone through, Mr Rosolin kept his sense of humour. "I had a bit of a joke with them and said 'is this going to cost me more money?' They said 'this one is on us. This is under warranty'. You've got to have a laugh," he said.
Mr Rosolin said he was lucky he had ambulance cover, and he hadn't had to pay a cent.
He was in hospital initially for over a week, but after that he had to make weekly trips back to Melbourne.
The injury had left him with double vision that was meant to improve but never did.
When more scans revealed a chip of bone behind his eyeball he "went back under the knife on the operating table" in December to have the plate and piece of bone removed. Within days his double vision disappeared.
His most recent scan in January showed his left eyeball was 4mm back and 1.5mm too low. "So it does sit out of place a bit. It's a bit annoying when you have a shower and water tends to get in between the eye and eyeball because it's not up against the eyelid," he said.
Sometimes by the end of the day his eye gets tired and he tends to keep it closed.
Doctors are planning to put the plate back in but because it is elective surgery, he is still waiting.
Mr Rosolin said he had the "utmost respect" for the medical staff who cared for him. "They were just fantastic," he said.
The accident has changed his outlook on life.
"If it had got me six inches lower it could have got me in the mouth, a bit lower and it could have got me across the neck. There were a lot of worse scenarios," he said.
"It just changes your view on life. A lot of things people whinge and carry on about I don't find important anymore.
"It's a humbling experience. Even though I'm the only one injured it affects everyone in the whole family, friends."
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