On November 1st 2016, the night before I was booked in for the urology operation, I had the honour to join the London Air Ambulance team at a very special event. It was hosted by Mr. Boris Johnson at the Houses of Parliament, with 50 other MPs and more importantly, 25 fellow ex. patients, paramedics, doctors, pilots and the wonderful events team. I got to meet in person and speak to people who, like myself, had their lives change in one unlucky moment but who are still alive thanks to these flying angels and who are willing to share their experience with the public and to raise awareness for the amazing work done by the charity. Some were in wheelchairs, some were using crutches and some have a prosthetic leg or an arm. I had to wear a suit, which in itself was a challenge and I had to travel on my own by public transport…just me and my walking stick…used for support and also as a safety measure, allowing people to notice my temporary disability (and even have a seat on the train with some luck).
A couple of days before that, Yael and I were invited to the LAA office in central London, to do a talk with their office staff; the good folks who take care of sponsorships, finance, marketing, volunteering and events and who rarely get to meet patients in person and to hear their experiences.
We talked about the accident and our individual as well mutual experience on the day and during the months that followed it. This was quite emotional for both of us and at the same time very satisfying…we both felt that this was just one way to show our appreciation and gratitude.
Just a few days ago, on March 22nd, we all witnessed the horror brought on by the cowardly terrorist attack in Westminster and saw how quickly the Air Ambulance team arrived at the scene and helped the wounded.
We went into UCL hospital on Nov’ 2nd 2016, prepared for a relatively simple procedure and a few days stay…sadly, the procedure had turned out to be a little more complicated than planned and after a week in bed with a lot of pain, more bleeding and some other complications, we realised that this was going to be yet another testing experience…for me but even more so for my family.
Walking and sitting were pretty much impossible, and as I once again had two catheters fitted, the dreadful blood clots and blockages came back (those were described in the first chapter of the story)…I can say that that month was actually worse than the previous times in hospital…more pain, blood loss, 3 blood transfusions, drugs, weight loss…and that horrible sense of despair…
We finally left the hospital at the end of November, I left 7kg there that I shed during that month and I also left the two catheters behind!!! Free at last!!!
The hole in my tummy had taken a several days to heal and to close down…imagine having to change dressings every hour or two and waking up at night, lying in a puddle of your own urine…At one point I bought it was never going to close!
They’ve replenished the stock of hardcore pain killers and equipped us with a morphine weaning plan that lasted 2 weeks. I was anxious to gain back my mobility and freedom to walk outside free of tubes and bags. I also wanted to drive again and to see if I can reduce, or maybe even give up all these medications.
For a few weeks I had to carry an inflatable inner tube that I could sit on. Slowly and gradually I extended my short daily walks and tried to make the best out of the holiday season by taking the family out on some of my walks
on New Years Eve we decided to brave the elements, got in the car and drove down to Brighton on the south coast of England. We stayed the night, the kids got to do some ice skating and we saw the fireworks at midnight. We even had a late night feast at Burger King and invited a homeless guy that was sat outside to enjoy a meal with his little dog.
It wasn’t until the beginning of February that I was able to start physiotherapy again, working on regaining muscle strength, flexibility and stability, a painful process yet satisfying as I was getting a little stronger every week.
My cardiologist has recently checked us up and done an Echo scan and all seems OK. in his words “what you have been through over the last few months was the ultimate test for your heart and it has done very well”…
We also had the “pleasure” of meeting my bike and to realise the damage it had sustained. The force and the weight of the car over me while I was on it had managed not only to shatter the carbon frame and squash the saddle but also to bend and break the chainrings and crank arms…that also explained the hole I had in my right ankle!
Fast forward to this day, March 28th 2017; life is starting to look a bit more normal. I’m stronger and I have some of my fitness back. I cannot cycle outside yet though – this will take several more months.
I’m seeing a psychologist once a week, to help me deal and hopefully overcome the bursts of anger, lack of concentration, lack of patience and general moodiness resulted by the post traumatic stress disorder. I still take a neuropathic drug that takes the edge of the random pains and aches and that helps me sleep a little better. I’ve chosen not to use any stronger drugs since I’ve had so much of those and I’ve been teaching myself how to handle pain and how to live with it. I’ll be seeing some pain specialists in the future as I go along.
Last Sunday we ticked another box: we took part in the British Heart Foundation Olympic Park Run and in doing so managed to raise close to £600. It was not easy at all but I was keen to finish the 10k course and crossing the line holding hands with Arielle was something very special. She’s 11 1/2 and this was her first 10k! My fundraising page is still active should you wish to donate. We would also wish to thank everybody who has supported us and who has donated so far!
Next month brings with it a few special occasions. We’ll be celebrating my birthday and a few days later we’ll meet the orthopaedic surgeons again, to follow up and perhaps to be finally discharged. On April 7th we will be marking the first anniversary of the day of the accident (I have a cunning plan for that day) and on the day after that we will be taking part in a very special event, together with London Air Ambulance and with some of our best friends who have helped us so much during all those months. I will comeback with an update after that so stay tuned!