- Disabilities & the Disabled
How a Drunk Driver changed my life forever
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.
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