Tuesday, 17 September 2013

One year on from our 9/11

8.10 Tuesday morning; 11th September 2012.  In PJs, my day off and Kate getting ready to leave for school.  The phone rang...a voice I didn't recognise, a stranger. He'd barely said a sentence before fear gripped me.  Husband; accident, on the road to Whitchurch. Did I want to come down there? Asked could I speak to him.  Not at the moment...  Confused. Kate had picked up what was happening and was crying. I didn't know what to do next.  This wasn't the way these things happen on TV.  No police or ambulance drivers to tell me what to do.  Just this stranger.  I asked his name - Matt. It struck me then why he wasn't waiting for the professionals.  He thought Paul wouldn't make it.

 Looking at the car you can see why he thought that.  A heavy metal crate had fallen onto it from a lorry.

I was shaky after the call but put on a brave face for Kate. Phoned a good friend and neighbour to drive me. The phone rang again.  Matt.  Better news. Ambulance was there and fire brigade- they were cutting him out and taking him to hospital.  Sent Kate to school and went to the local hospital to wait.  And wait.  Staff in A&E unhelpful and uninformed and lacking in any empathy.  Said they were expecting a 'RTA', though. Could I take a seat?  Sat there among the sprained ankles and minor injuries.  It all felt unreal. Felt detached, watching myself as if in a soap opera.  Tried not to think about how life might change but my mind running away visualising future scenarios.  How he said he wanted the Hipsway song at his funeral.  Waited and waited.  My wonderful friend still there. 40 minutes passed and then we heard the ambulance outside.

Swung from terror to near elation in seconds.  Ambulance driver smiling and saying it looks worse than it is; Paul talking to me saying he was OK.  In contrast to those in the front desk, staff on the A&E ward were wonderful.  They let me hold his hand as they picked bits of metal from the huge gash on his head and then sewed it up.  23 stitches and a scar which beats Harry Potter.  Scans and X rays revealed no life threatening injuries but there were compressed discs in his spine.  Not much fun, but he'd be OK - eventually.

 Last week, one year on from the accident I was very proud to see him achieve the goal he set himself a month or so later.  He completed a charity cycle ride from London to Brussels for the Alzheimer's Society, raising over £900.  It wasn't easy and his back injury continues to cause him problems, but he did it.

Writing this meant reliving the experience.  But it's good to remember.  I stared into the void but then got my life back.  And it's precious.  I remember too the kindness of that stranger Matt.  I'm not sure I'd have been brave enough to make that call.


  1. So glad there was a happy ending to the story and congratulations to Paul for completing the cycle ride!

  2. What a tragic story. I was shaking on my boots while reading the first para of your article. Thank god that it ends well. Accidents are the worst thing that can happen to anybody. Thank you for sharing the blog post.

    Arnold Brame
    Health And Safety Consultant Peterborough

  3. Oh, so scary! I have never seen a car in worse condition. I was elated for your happy ending!

  4. Ah Doris. Though the causes were very different, I understand what you went through. The terror. The waiting for awfulness upon more awfulness. The hope. The sense that nothing can ever be the same again.
    The car wreckage is horrifying. But you have one another. And it sounds as though you are all making the very most of a life saved.

  5. Travelling back through your life (as blogs allow you to, quite like the Doctor, but without the bow tie or fez) I know your husband survived, but this post made me cry; I don't know whether I could have made the call, but I hope I would. I also can't imagine how you felt but most of all I can't imagine HOW he survived! I presume the car was a write off?