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How a Drunk Driver changed my life forever

Updated on May 3, 2012

How a Drunk Driver changed my life forever

I worked for 9 years in a hospital that looks after people who are born with mental health issues. I found that I loved working with what I would consider to be the brats (patents that were more challenging to deal with due to their temperaments, behaviour issues and conditions). I loved my job and loved the group of people I worked with. It was a wonderful place that had everything our clients needed including a dairy, dentist, physiotherapists, swimming pool, school, jobs for those who were higher functioning, ponds, park areas, doctors etc… Sadly in my 9th year which was in 1995 I was hit by a drunk driver which ended my wonderful career. It turned out the guy had spent the last 5 hours in the pub drinking.

I was on my motorbike going home from afternoon shift when a car pulled out stopping sideways in front of me. I was now speeding towards the driver’s door. In that split second I knew if I braked I would hit the door and almost definitely die. I did the only thing I thought would give me a chance of survival … I stopped all acceleration then flipping my bike I tried to get around the front of the car. I had to flip the bike enough to get around the front of the car which would take me over the centre line without flipping too far and ending up hitting the oncoming traffic. You know the three or so seconds before a crash really do appear to slow down and last a long long time. I am aware that it is because our thought processes and reaction speeds actually speed up to give us a higher chance of survival.

Sadly I missed making it by the width of my foot peg. My bike spun and as I flew over the car I totalled the bonnet and my left leg. I can sometimes joke about that and tell people that I sure was silly destroying his bonnet with my leg. Sadly the bonnet also destroyed my leg. Once the accident occurs things tend to go faster than normal or at least that has been what happens in my experiences.

The next thing I remember I was laying on the ground on my back. The pain coming from my leg was unbelievable. I looked downwards towards the offending pain; first thing I saw were bones sticking up into the air. Then I noticed that from just above my knee all the way to my ankle I could see the insides of my leg. All I thought was bugger that’s not good.

I did scream when the ambulance officers moved me onto the stretcher. As you can well imagine I have no love for drunk drivers.

This is similar to my break though this one is not as bad
This is similar to my break though this one is not as bad | Source
How they wire together knee caps
How they wire together knee caps

Pain pain and more pain

Over the years I have had 20 different operations the first was thankfully to fix nerve damage etc. which saved my leg. I was told later that when I was chatting to my flatmate who had raced into the emergency dept. the doctor was poking me with needles in my foot. (I didn't feel a thing) As you can imagine this is a very bad sign. I was very lucky that the best surgeon in New Zealand had come down to Christchurch to do a private operation on someone had just come out of that 4 hour operation. Luckily for me he agreed to take a look at me. After seeing me he took me into a 6 hour surgery which saved my leg. I was told that if my accident had happened 3 years previous or if the surgeon who worked on me hadn't been there that I would have lost my leg. (I am eternally thankfull that I got to keep my leg).

I believe for the first month I had another 5-6 operations. It took 3 to remove the paint chips and petrol from my wound. The next operation was to remove the top layers of skin from the thigh of my right leg to use as a skin graft for my left leg.

I then needed more operations to place screws and to wire together the ¼ knee cap that I was left with. As you can imagine I have been in constant pain since my accident (no surprises there then). The surgeons told me that I would be lucky to get 45 ̊ bend. After 3-4 years I had gained 90 ̊ bend.

The driver who did this to me got 6 months loss of licence and $1000 fine. At the time that was less than 2 weeks wages for me. Somehow it just doesn’t seem quite right of fair to me and I have always believed anyone caught drunk driving should have to work for 6 months in a hospice for people who have had serious injuries from either drink driving or getting into a car with a drunk driver.

Repeat offenders should have to work 1 year at the city morgue.

When being helpful can kill you

I was on a morphine pump for a few weeks due to the severity of my pain. During most of this time when I woke up I would be in unbearable pain which would take a few pushes of the pump to start to sort out. Sadly no matter how many times you push the pump you only get a measure of morphine once every 10 minutes. In those first few weeks I would push that buzzer until I slipped into blissful pain free oblivion for a time.

My partner at this time decided that they hated seeing me wake up in such pain and pushed the button for me while I was asleep. I luckily woke to find out I had nearly died from an overdose and had needed 3 bags of blood pumped into me as well as oxygen etc. to save my life.

Never push someone’s morphine pump when they have fallen asleep. The reason they have fallen asleep is because they have hit their individual saturation levels of morphine. In other words any more could kill them.

It feels like you are thinking slowly and someone has done something not nice to your head. I know that sounds weird but it is the only way that I can explain it other than saying it is not a nice feeling yet your thankful to be alive. I stopped taking morphine as soon as I could after this (funny that). It took me another week to week and a half to achieve this as I was still in a lot of pain but who wants to have even the possibility of that being able to happen again … certainly not me.


I have at times wondered if all physiotherapists are in fact sadists. Here you are lying there feeling slightly sorry for yourself due to how much pain you’re in and what has happened to you and in comes the physio to cause you more pain.

Don’t get me wrong here I am glad the physio’s helped me to get my leg moving and to get a reasonable bend happening. It’s just that it must take a certain kind of mind-set to want to cause people more pain and discomfort than they are already in.

Physio’s really do help to get people up and running again even if they all appear to have a sadistic side to be able to cause others added pain during extremely painful times in our lives. ( I wonder if that makes me a bit of a masochist )

If you want to read about what happens when you have a skin graft click here


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    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      5 years ago from USA

      Howdy Lyn. (Lyn.Stewart) - Now THIS is a most graphic writing. I would rather have read that your experience was more like that fellow brought into our late-night emergency room one time. He had two very broken legs, but he was in a really jolly mood - singing loudly, cussing a wee bit from time to time, and (before he was relieved of it) having a swig or two from the little bit left in his bottle of moonshine. The ambulance crew had picked him up off the top of a high pile of roadside snow - just celebrating away as though it were all some great partytime.

      It is not that easy to pick and choose the moment, is it?

      Gus :-)))

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      I have been watching 2 police reality shows ... one from here in New Zealand and one from Australia. Sadly in both the shows the police are seen pulling up drunk drivers who have either had their licence suspended or have lost their licence.

      Some people just don't care and wont learn no matter what.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      6 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I've never had an accident involving a drunk driver but I feel very angry about this abuse all the same. It's very arrogant to think you matter more than everyone else out there on the road. Here the fines and penalties are quite stiff. People lose their licence to drive for a first offence. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have a good platform here.

    • Jools99 profile image


      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Lyn, what a horrific accident you had and this experience sounds like its made you stronger. I think drunk drivers should be banned outright but my hubby says that wouldn't matter cos they would still get in cars regardless.

      I am under the care of a physio at the moment and I was calling him all kinds of names last week but I know in the end, I will (eventually) feel better.

      Voted up, etc.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thanks Natashlah ... the sad thing is that I also know of a couple of people who even though they have seen how much pain I have been through have chosen to get behind a wheel drunk or get into a car with a drunk driver.

      Hi dmop ... I think it is the mentality of it wont happen to me that allows people to get into the car drunk and drive. Repeate offenders deffinately have this innane belief system embedded in their psychy.

      Thank you PegCole17. To be honest having drunk drivers work in a hospice is the only thing I can see that may bring home the human factor and if we can make people identify with those who have been injured then there is less likleyhood that they will continue to drive drunk.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You did well to avoid the car the best you could with such a short notice. So sorry for all the pain and discomfort you experienced. I like your recommendation that all drunk drivers "should have to work for 6 months in a hospice for people who have had serious injuries from either drunk driving or getting into a car with a drunk driver". That would be more of a deterrent than a fine. All the best to you. Peg

    • dmop profile image


      6 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      I just don't get why people drink and drive; we all know that it endangers our lives and the lives of those around us. It seems crazy how easy many get of after they have been caught too. Thanks for sharing, voted up, and useful.

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      When will people finally learn that drinking and driving don't mix? Just last weekend, another person I know got a DUI. I personally know at least three people who have been killed by a drunk driver, and three more who have gotten DUIs. It is 100% preventable! People who drink and drive are one of my biggest pet peeves.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      thank you emily.

      Sunshine I wrote the hub to hopefully help others who have had something similar happen to them and maybe just maybe to stop someone drink driving and thankyou.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Further proof how life could change in the matter of a second. You are a quick thinker and you are alive to share your story with others. I hope by doing so you help save someone's life or hopefully many lives. Drunk drivers are selfish people. Shame on them. Way to go Lyn!

    • emilybee profile image


      6 years ago

      You write this story very well, although tragic very well-written. I hope you continue to heal positively.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thanks tammy and glad to have you here.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I am so sorry this happened to you. I am sure your patients were sad too. It just isn't fair that all these irresponsible people hurt the innocent like this every single day. You are a fighter!

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Hi alian346 ... you are sooo right that the worst thing was no longer being able to do the job I loved. Thanks for your kind words of support.

    • alian346 profile image


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Apart from the physical I bet the most awful thing about this episode for you was the loss of the career you adored - that must have been devastating. My heart goes out to you and I hope that life is being kinder to you now.

      I agree with you about the legal penalties for drunk drivers.

      You sound a bit eccentric (like me!) and that, I have found, is very useful in getting us through difficult times!

      Thanks for the 'follow'.


    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Hi sgbrown ... thanks for stopping by ... I believe if drunk drivers were made to work in these places 98% of them would never do it again.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is a very good hub! I wish anyone who has drank and driven would read it. I love the idea of making them work for a hospice and repeat offenders working at the morgue. Let them see what they can cause! I am so sorry you have had to go through this! I hope you continue to improve. Voted this up and awesome! :)

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thank you for your kind words Peggy W ... texting and driving or answering your phone is illegal here in New Zealand and you get fined for doing so.(of course it's ok if you have a phone you can tell to answer without having to pick it up)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      So very sorry to hear of the horrific time you have had since being hit by a drunk driver. Glad that your leg was saved. I agree with you in that penalty to the drunk driver certainly did not seem stiff enough. I don't know the exact statistics, but now people who text and drive also cause many accidents. The latter should definitely be outlawed also.

      Voted useful. Wishing you the best of health in your future.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thank you everyone for your kind words ... I will write the next installment soon. It is at times hard to get out what I have been through.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for sharing this beautifully written hub,it is always the other person that gets hurt not the drunk driver.

      Wishing you the best!

      Vote up !!!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      The road to Recovery is a Long, Painful one...I'm so glad your making it back. Drunk Drivers cause the MOST accidents, and half the time walk away unhurt, and unfortunately able to keep on Driving. Good you are able to keep some humor about you Lyn.

    • moonfairy profile image


      6 years ago

      What a go you had....thankfully all worked out okay!!

    • FordeAhern profile image


      6 years ago from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland

      A beautiful hub, very interesting. You have been through the mill and back. I wish you all the luck. voted up and interesting.


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