Last Summer, Andy headed out on his motorbike for one last ride out of the year. When a car in front of him suddenly stopped, Andy crashed into the back of the car and was in desperate need of our Critical Care Team. Below he tells his story.
It was a bright, sunny day as I made my way home along the A272. I was travelling behind a car as I glanced in my mirrors, looked back, and the car was stopped dead in the road. I hit my brakes in an emergency stop and flew over the handlebars. The bike followed me, crushing me between it and the back of the car. I remember going over the handlebars knowing it was going to be bad. I was lying on the ground, struggling for breath and in a lot of pain.
Cars driving past stopped as they saw what had happened. One of them happened to be an off-duty policeman, so he picked up my phone and called for an ambulance. I have no idea how long went past. Time was still. It was probably within half an hour. I don’t even remember whether I was going in and out of consciousness, but I do remember that I thought someone was sat on my leg and I was being held down, but it was just because it was so badly broken. My breathing was getting bad now.
I vaguely recall the Air Ambulance landing. One of the HIOWAA Critical Care Team doctors told me they were about to administer some ketamine. Suddenly, all my pain washed away. It was a very psychedelic experience. Almost like a party going on with no music. It felt like a scanner: starting at the top of my body, taking effect as it washed over me. It was like a dream. I could hear the sirens and noise, but it was all a blur. The HIOWAA doctor came in the back of the ambulance with me, so I guessed things were bad. I was trying to figure out the route we were going, but I must have drifted off as the next thing I knew we had arrived at University Hospital Southampton.
I was placed into an induced coma for nine days. I had punctured a lung, broken 11 ribs, damaged my liver and spleen and my heart had taken a bit of a knock. And I had suffered damaged to my kidney so bad that it had to be taken out. I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with so many tubes coming in and out of me.
When he was two weeks into his stay in hospital, Andy was taken for a CT scan to check his progress.
As I was lying in the scanner, I had a cardiac arrest. They did CPR and shocked me twice to bring me back to life, but I had to spend the next two days in another coma: back to square one. My ribs weren’t brilliant following the CPR, so it just made everything hard work. After a month in ICU, they moved me up to the Trauma and Orthopaedic Ward, where I spent a further four weeks.
I didn’t see my wife for eight long weeks. The last time she saw me was when she waved goodbye to me as I set off on my bike. At the time she didn’t know whether I was going to live or not. Roughly three weeks after the crash I was handed an iPad so we could have a Zoom call. I didn’t have my phone, so my wife would email the hospital and they would print it out, laminate it and show it to me. It was incredible.
After eight weeks I was discharged home. It was hard, returning home, as I was still quite injured. I had shattered my leg, which I should’ve lost, and, as a result, I’ve got some serious metalwork in there now. I had a bed downstairs in the lounge and used both a wheelchair and a pair of crutches. It was pretty bleak, but it was good to get home.
It still feels like I’ve been beaten up, even now, but my leg is great. Not 100%, but I’m doing physiotherapy. I can walk up and down the stairs, drive to work, which I returned to at the start of December, and the surgeons are really happy with my progress.
I was looking to retire, from the bike. Well, it was in the back of my mind. The crew had to cut all my clothes and leathers off. Everything. The cost implications of replacing the bike, jacket, helmet and gloves, it just felt like the right time to stop and refocus.
I know I’m lucky. But I’ve never been one to dwell on things; I always take things as they come. It must have had an impact on me. There will be times when I take a different approach to things. I did make some promises to myself in the hospital: spend more time with family; sit in the garden more often and look at the flowers instead of the TV; take the time to go on holiday more, instead of putting my head to the grindstone; take more trips out that I may have passed up on before. Something like that anyway. It’s always easier said than done.