“I shouldn’t have survived”
When I was 18, I had a good job and a girlfriend. I played semi professional football and was a keen snowboarder. But I was also a self-confessed boy racer who’d recently passed my driving test.
After dropping off my girlfriend one bright sunny July morning, I drove on to work. Coming up behind two cars, I thought, ‘God, they’re going slow; I’m going to overtake.
I had a head on collision with a three-tonne lorry coming the other way. For three months I drifted in and out of consciousness and then remained in hospital long enough for two birthdays to go past. As I wasn’t wearing a seat belt, the force of the crash had thrown me against the steering wheel, inflicting serious chest and head injuries.
Both my lungs collapsed and my brain stem, responsible for speech, coordination and other key body functions, was severely twisted in the impact. Also, while in a coma, a bite reflex that clenched my teeth at the slightest sound forced doctors to remove part of my tongue and two of my front teeth.
I now live in sheltered housing, get around in a wheel chair and need help getting dressed and making meals. Though my mind is sharp and I have managed to retain my sense of humour, my speech is slurred.
I was lucky enough to survive but my life will never be the same. I was a keen footballer and now I will never know what it feels like to kick the ball around with friends again. My social circle has changed. After the crash some people just drift away as they don’t know how to relate to you anymore. I have to be driven everywhere now and need help with a lot of things that able bodied people can do quite easily.
It only takes one moment, one bad decision to change a lifetime.