I was a carefree teenager who lived life to the max, always hanging around with my friends and we loved being out. On a summer’s evening in 2008, I had been out with a group of my friends in our local town to watch a band play. Some of us went back to a friend’s house and at about 4am I set off walking back home.
I don’t know what made me cross the road at the wrong time, but I crossed the road without looking and taking due care and attention. I was hit by a van, was left completely paralysed and need everything doing for me. I have 2 carers with me at all times and have had to accept that this is my life now.
In total I spent 16 months in different hospitals. From Intensive Care Units to a Specialist Spinal Injury Unit, I spent the last 6 months away from home in a local Rehab Centre. I then moved back to my Mum and Dad’s which had been specially adapted for my needs.
I broke my neck and required an operation to stabilise the vertebrae. My pelvis and wrist were also broken. I had a bleed from my aorta requiring a stent and compartment syndrome requiring an operation on my legs. I also needed a skin graft on my legs and a tracheostomy for ventilation. I was kept in an induced coma for the first three days and subsequently spent three-and-a-half weeks in intensive care.
I remember all the conversations which used to go on at my bedside. One in particular was around the fact that I wouldn’t be able to breathe again for myself. I remember feeling so determined that I would be able to do so, I made it my focus to prove everyone wrong. Eventually after two years of trials, I was in a position to not be totally dependent on a machine to help me breathe all the time, which means a great deal to me.
After moving back to my parents home for nearly 6 years, the task of totally rebuilding my life again began and in October 2013, I finally moved into my own purpose-built bungalow. This allowed me to live independently, which I so wanted.
I always wanted to educate Children and Young Adults and raise their awareness of Road Safety, hopefully learning from my mistake.
In 2016, I visited the first Primary School. It was really well received by the Children and Staff. To date I have spoken to more than 2500 Children and Young Adults in local Schools and Groups (Brownies & Cubs).
“I hope to benefit others in demonstrating that just because you have had an accident and you are in a wheelchair, your life isn’t over.”
I talk about the fact that my accident didn’t only have an impact on me, it has had a massive impact on my family and also the driver.
I believe that being open and honest about my life is the best way to be with the Children. They respond extremely well and ask a lot of questions. My hope is that by sharing the reality of what can happen if you don’t take care when crossing the road, it will, in a small way, help reduce the number of accidents on the roads. My message is aimed at all age groups; from holding parents’ hands, not using your mobile phone while crossing the road to being aware of the roads on a night out, what happened to me could happen to anyone.
“If my story prevents even one person from experiencing what I’ve been through, then talking to people about my life and road safety has been worthwhile.”
My life will never be the same again as a result of not concentrating on the road, and making a life-changing, split second decision to cross it at the wrong time. I hope that by sharing my story, it makes people aware of the impact an accident can have, not only on your life, but on your family and the driver’s life.