“My wife and I used to do a bit of cycling for exercise, and she preferred not to be on the roads with all the traffic. We were cycling in Beddington Park and stopped to walk over a small stone bridge over the boating lake. It was a low bridge without a railing. My pedal got caught on a loose stone in the wall and I fell over the top of the bridge into and under the water, landing on the rocks below with my head submerged. My wife saved me from drowning really.
She was calling for help for a while and then eventually someone heard us and an ambulance was called. I had a head injury and a back injury, but I wasn’t aware of that, I just thought my legs weren’t moving because they were too cold from the water. An MRI scan confirmed I had broken my back and I then had 3 major operations on my back at C3-4; T1-2 and T10-12, so I have extensive scar tissue pretty much all the way down my back which has affected my rehab.
After all these ops I caught e-coli in hospital which was horrible – 7 abscesses developed at the base of my spine and I had to have more operations to resolve those.
I was an incomplete tetraplegic – I still had strength in my arms. So I was transferred to Stoke Mandeville for 7 or 8 months which was fantastic and they got me walking a bit on crutches.
Back at home I had a hospital bed in the living room that I could adjust the height of, to make it easier to transfer out of bed into my wheelchair. I developed rotator cuff problems in both shoulders which affected my ability to push my wheelchair and further surgery was needed.
In the last few years though I have been doing well, I’m able to get dressed and do my own daily hygiene tasks, although I have been relying on my wheelchair for all my mobility.
Then recently I was feeling dizzy and weak and fell on the floor three times. We thought I had a UTI which is quite common for me, but tests in hospital showed there was no water infection. I was in bed for 3 weeks at St. Georges until I could transfer and use the loo again myself.
Then I was transferred to QEF and it was my goal to be able to stand up and get out to the wheelchair.
The care here has been great. I’ve had support from the occupational therapy team for my hands to get them moving more flexibly and physio nearly 5 days a week. The physios here have been absolutely “amazing”, they are so kind and patient. After being reliant on my wheelchair for over 8 years the team here have got me walking again with aids! Even my physio was impressed – I really can’t praise them enough.
I never believed I would be able to do this. It was really emotional when I walked again for the first time with the standing frame. Its really shown me that if you don’t use it, you lose it. I have been very willing to work hard and being able to walk again really is amazing. I have actually told a friend, who has recently had a stroke, about this place too.”