April 1 2004 ( April Fools Day). I was working for a retail company and had borrowed a product from the store the day before to learn about it’s features and functions. It was a Thursday, my day off the day I promised to return the product. At 11am, I headed to the store, put the product back in it’s place, then had a chat with the staff before leaving. I decided to head over to another branch of the company to speak to my colleague there as I hadn’t seen him since a training day we had some months back.
Living in London, I didn’t drive a car as my home to work distance wasn’t worth the tax, insurance and all else that goes with owning a car costs. I had a 50cc Italjet Moped, cheap insurance, tax and great for beating the rush hour traffic. I had just bought a new helmet the week before and was wearing a protective jacket, with plates in the sleeves and in the back, I also had gloves with kevlar protection, because it was a nice day, I was wearing track suit bottoms and trainers. So I headed off and had a nice leisurely ride as it was just past mid- day and the weather was perfect with little or no traffic on the road.
I was almost at my destination and was approaching a junction where there was a removal truck waiting to pull out from the left and a car coming towards me, indicating to turn to his right into the junction. Well I was going straight and had the right of way so continued at my pace.
The car suddenly turned right across my path, hitting me side on. My first thought was ‘SHIT’ before I felt myself flying, I remember the noise of my helmet on the tarmac and the orange light with images of the last few hours flashing through my mind in an instant, I remember thinking, WOW!! like I’d just seen something amazing!
I immediately found myself sitting up in the road, I think the first thing I did was check myself over, I seemed alright so tried to remove my helmet. A man came over and handed me my keys to the bike and said ‘these are yours, are you alright?’, I thought he was the driver of the car and was shouting at him for turning in front of me, he just walked away as I screamed at him to phone the emergency services. It turns out he was a passenger in the truck and the driver that hit me was in his car in a state of shock. I couldn’t get my helmet off so had to remove my gloves, that’s when I noticed my left hand and wrist was turning black and blue, again I thought ‘shit’.
With my helmet off, I looked back and saw that I was about 30 ft away from my bike which was under the car, pushed into the junction, just missing the truck. I was fully aware of what had just happened. I Saw my right trainer out in the middle of the road so looked down at my foot, There was blood everywhere. I knew it was bad, so grabbed my foot and applied as much pressure as I could. I could see a huge gash in the side of my right leg too but I knew that would just need stitches.
Out of nowhere, a nurse appeared and then another and another. I realised I was outside a Doctors clinic and remember thinking ‘thank god’. I don’t remember any of them speaking to me. One of them handed me bits of my watch which were found down the road a bit. They were all attending to my foot, at that point, I just lay down and let them get on with it, I felt safe. For some reason I phoned work to tell them I wouldn’t be in the next day. I had no idea how serious my injuries were.
Bang!!! the pain hits as the adrenaline wears off. It was unbelievable, I thought my leg was hanging off, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I couldn’t feel any pain in my left arm at all. I could hear the sirens getting closer, the police and ambulance were coming. I was relieved. One police officer knelt down beside my head and tried to question me, the pain was overpowering and I could think of nothing else, I can just remember telling him, the car pulled across in front of me.
The ambulance guys were here, and because I was lying on the ground they put a plate stretcher under my back, and a neck brace on me, I told them I’m fine it was just my leg and wrist but they didn’t listen, so now I was angry and in pain. They brought me to the ambulance and we were on our way to the hospital, I began to feel colder than i’d ever felt before, I told the crew and they said it’s because my blood pressure had dropped and not to worry. The female crew member kept calling me Tim, I was furious that she kept getting my name wrong thinking that if anyone comes looking for me in the hospital, I wouldn’t exist.. It was only afterwards I found out she did it to keep me talking and alive.
I’m not going to go through the whole hospital experience but basically I was rushed into the trauma room and attended to straight away, they gave me morphine for the pain and I don’t recall much after that. I had a crush injury to my foot, severed the artery and damaged nerves and tendons which had to be removed. I had 2 operations, they put four wire pins in my foot which were left sticking out like nails in a piece of wood. I shattered my ankle and broke my left wrist and thumb.
I was in hospital for 8 days before being sent home to recover, My right foot and left arm were in plaster and life suddenly changed as I struggled to cope with what had happened. The things I took for granted, like having a bath, now became a whole new experience. In the nights that followed, I was having extreme nightmares, waking up screaming and shouting. My foot was getting spasms which traveled all the way up my leg, it was very uncomfortable for months. I had the plaster changed on my leg after 6 weeks and spent a total of 14 weeks with my leg in a cast. My arm was out of plaster after 6 weeks which was a huge relief.
A simple normal day had turned my life upside down in an instant, I became withdrawn, anxious, depressed and scared. The realization of how short life can be hit me hard and I couldn’t trust any drivers anymore, I was even terrified travelling as a passenger and would often refuse to go out because I was afraid of it happening all over again.
My insurance had me covered and I was assessed for my mental health by a private company. I was diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. I was having frequent anxiety attacks and went for counseling when I could manage to leave the house. To be honest I didn’t get any benefit from ‘talking’ to the councillor about what was going on in my head. He had no clue what I was going through, he was just trying to re-assure me but really had no idea how I was feeling. I wasn’t the best person to be around, I know that much. I felt hate, blame, guilt amongst other emotions. I was always angry and even now despise the driver that hit me because he never apologised. In court he said I appeared out of nowhere!! he must’ve been blind because my bike was a bright green colour.
So the case went to court, it was the first time I’d seen the other driver, I wanted to grab him by the neck and show him what he’d done. Instead I said nothing and just waited for the court to decide his fate. There were witnesses, luckily. The truck driver and his family, they were moving house and they saw everything. They all said what I knew, the car pulled across my path without warning. The other driver was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, he was given a stupid fine and lost 4 points on his licence. I was happy for a brief moment but it didn’t last. For him it was over and although I’m sure he won’t ever forget, he will never know how he turned my life around. I am reminded every day, every twinge and spasm I get in my foot, brings it all back. I know it’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life and some days I ignore the thoughts and reminders (triggers) other days the pain is so uncomfortable, the thoughts that go through my mind you wouldn’t want to say out loud. Despite medication with the terrible side effects for depression, inducing the craziest dreams and sickening thoughts, I had to stop taking it.
My work suffered, because my mental state wouldn’t let me out of the house, I was taking more days off than I was working and it was taking it’s toll on me and the company, I was losing interest in the things I loved doing, fishing was a chore because of how my thumb broke, it made it difficult to make the rigs, the pain would worsen the colder my hand got, standing on uneven ground affects my foot and my balance isn’t the same because of the injury to it. Bowling was another issue, my Son’s favourite past time but because of my injuries I can no longer enjoy the experience and I soon lost interest altogether.
So where am I now? well, I have good days and bad days. There are times when I’m very happy and ready to face anything and there’s also times when I can’t step out the door. I’m extra careful when I do go out (part of the condition) and I suppose I’m over protective of my family now and even when they are out without me I get flashes of ‘what might happen’ and feel a huge sense of relief when I see them again. It’s strange going through that every time but something I’ve now become accustomed to. Over cautiousness is the term, but at least I know I will do anything to protect myself and my family. My life continues as does my PTSD but I’ve learned to deal with the everyday of it.
I hope this post makes people more aware of the condition and opens the eyes of those who think depression is something you can snap out of (as my doctor once told me) you can’t snap out of it but you can learn to live with it and that’s what I’m doing. Everyday is a blessing because I’ve got through it and every tomorrow is a hope that I can.