Robbie Peime has achieved a mind-boggling amount since a head-on collision at the age of 17 left him a complete paraplegic.
He tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it was his carefree, ‘thrill-seeking’ attitude that led to his life-changing accident which saw his car collide with another at a combined speed of 180km per hour.
“I was described by the medical professionals as a ‘broken man,’” he says.
“I was in an induced coma for two weeks and spent the better part of a year in hospital.”
When he finally made it home, Robbie’s future looked pretty bleak. He was 18 and required assistance to shower, get in and out of bed and even use the bathroom which understandably took a toll on his physical and mental health.
“I struggled with depression and obesity, isolating myself from the outside world due to a lack of confidence and embarrassment,” he reveals.
It was through exercise and fitness that Robbie slowly but surely regained his self-esteem and independence until he was no longer ashamed of the person he was looking at in the mirror.
“This new outlook on life has driven me to want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone that restricted me for so long,” he says.
A decade on from the accident, Robbie is a personal trainer, motivational speaker and somewhat of a mentor to younger people living with disabilities.
He’s extremely fit and active, regularly competing in triathlons and, as of 2018, can now proudly call himself an Ironman.
Ever the thrill-seeker, Robbie gets the adrenaline pumping by skiing and wakeboarding using specially adapted seated equipment.
The ‘hardest part of someone’s day’
Even though he’s overcome countless challenges, Robbie tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he and other differently-abled people still face hurdles in their day-to-day lives that able-bodied people rarely come across.
“Something as simple as getting dressed in the morning can be the hardest part of someone’s day,” he explains.
“I think people take for granted how much they can do with ease, including myself.”
A new Australian online shop, EveryHuman, is helping to provide solutions to these types of obstacles by offering a range of ‘adaptive clothing’ that’s tailored to the wearer’s different needs and abilities.
Whether that’s shirts with magnetic closures instead of buttons, shoes with zippers that can be zipped one-handed or pants that are suitable for people who use wheelchairs, EveryHuman aims to cater to people who might not be able to find what they need in mainstream shops.
“I think for many people with disabilities one of the biggest challenges is getting or regaining their independence, even if it’s just something as small as putting on your own shoes and EveryHuman helps people achieve this,” Robbie says.
Robbie became an ambassador for the site after founder Matthew Skerritt reached out to him through social media and has even modelled some of the pieces — something which he’d love to do again.
He wants to see large, mainstream clothing brands begin to embrace adaptable fashion just as US giant Tommy Hilfiger did recently.
For now, Robbie is content with how far he’s come since his catastrophic crash.
“I think for me, I am most proud of where I am today compared to where I was when I had my accident.
“My biggest achievement is being comfortable in my own skin again and having the confidence to try new things, which has led me to the happy life I’m living today.”