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Shona

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Shona was on a motorbike with her husband when they had an accident. She had to deal with what was happening to him, as well as coping with her own injuries.

Shona was on a motorbike with her husband when they had an accident. She had to deal with what was happening to him, as well as coping with her own injuries.

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I’ve been with my partner since I was eighteen. And when I was thirty six, with a ten year old son, we were involved in a major motorbike accident - me as pillion passenger. The issues that I found - and find now - are the struggle which - I know some aren’t relevant to you - but the issues that to me still are very galling is that … it took them fifty minutes to get me an ambulance. And I was sat there saying “it’s a head injury. He’s thrashing. I want rapid response.” And I actually had a woman on the phone who was - she thought - talking to a bystander who was with me, but I’d put the speaker on- put the phone on speaker – and she said “don’t tell her but there’s no ambulances available”. And we didn’t get to ICU and we didn’t get sedated for an hour and forty minutes.

And you were injured too, obviously. What kind of injuries did you have?

I had really to be truthful in respect because I hit the ground running and he was so bad, I took no notice - as I think a female who has kids tends to do as well. Because you put yourself last. So those are what my issues are now. Because a lot of the other issues I’ve put to bed. But I’ve got my trauma coming back to haunt me. Uhm, which is a bizarre thing.
 

Shona ended up feeling ‘like a caged animal’ trying to look after her husband at home.

Shona ended up feeling ‘like a caged animal’ trying to look after her husband at home.

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I said to [Rehabilitation Consultant] when she first come up about my beliefs and one thing and another and [Rehabilitation Consultant] said you know looking at the scans, that she believed that he could possibly recover to a functional level of having family input. Being at home and giving some family input. And then of course you cling to that little glimmer of hope without really understanding the implications of what goes with that. You know, incontinent, argumentative, boisterous, and the cognitive issues that, unless you’ve dealt with somebody with cognitive damage, you have no perspective of it. 

What level of cognitive damage does he have now?

Uhm, he’s actually quite good, (to son) isn’t he? He’s a bit like an Alzheimer’s patient. 

I can honestly say looking after [Husband] I was like a trapped, caged, animal. Because I’d pace this house, not being able to leave it. And it’s things like that that pisses me off with the social services. Because you shouldn’t be put through that. Especially having a child. You know, that is not acceptable. I mean it got to the stage that one night [son] turned round to me and he said, “He won’t bother you tonight Mum”. And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I’ve taken the batteries out of his bell” he said “you need a decent night’s sleep”. Now that isn’t for your eleven year old to have to really have to take on that kind of thing, is it. 
 

Shona describes the challenge of everything from cancelling a mobile phone to trying to sort out incapacity benefit.

Shona describes the challenge of everything from cancelling a mobile phone to trying to sort out incapacity benefit.

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But the ones that also got my goat the biggest were the arseholes of the stupid companies. Orange mobile phones. 

Yes! 

I had such a nightmare. Thank Christ we’ve got some friends that work for Orange. Nowhere in that department - but they managed to sort of say, “Will you please listen to this poor woman?” and I had somebody actually that could think for themselves, in a high office.

And it’s the trivial things like that reduce you to tears in the end, isn’t it?

“I want to stop the account. You know, “We don’t-“ You know, “I want to cancel the phone.” “We can’t, we need Mr [Husband’s] signature, we need to speak to him.”

Yes, been there.

You know, and things like that. …And another one, another one! And this is very, very relevant. Right. [Husband’s] now come home; he’s now left hospital. I have now- We are now in receipt – this was not long after, we’re still in receipt of - We were in receipt of DNA. We were in receipt of incapacity benefit, okay? He’d been home - (pause, sighs) Now when did we start getting incapacity benefit? Did we get that before he came home? We might have done because he worked for work for so many months, in the May he stopped officially working for work, then he went on to incapacity benefit, so it must have been the six-month review.

Yes. 

Right? The darling little knobs who have no brain have to have the six-month review. Now, bearing in mind I’ve had [husband] home, I am really not coping with my trauma. I am not coping with the trauma I’d been through, not coping with where I’m at now and total loss of life. You know, we were very outgoing, we holidayed most months of the summer, we did things, we, you know- That’s all gone. That’s the bit you don’t appreciate.

It’s the cage that comes down.

It is. That, they know, and that is the only way I can say that I did traipse this house like a trapped animal. And you don’t know what that feels like until you’re there. And I had the issue then, that this knob rang me up and said, “Mr [surname] is required to attend a review for his incapacity benefit”. And I said, “I beg your pardon?’”. “To make sure that he can’t actually go back to work.” [Laughter] I a little bit hit the roof, to which this woman said to me, “Well, if you refuse to attend then you will lose your benefit”.

So what happened?

I actually broke the– this is again why my social worker was such a knob because I ended up having to have my social- Because I couldn’t do a phone call. I could not ring anyone. I could not- And that’s – I couldn’t deal with the fact that every fucking question, “What does your husband do?” You know, when you’re trying to do your child tax form or when you’re trying to do your inc- my incapacity benefit, when I’m trying to then look at jobseeker’s allowance, fucking council tax. Every question! And it was, “I can’t do any more, I can’t keep going over this. I can’t speak to knobs who can’t compute”. I would go onto the phone, I’d say, “I’ll tell you my situation,” and I’d say it quick and brief and it’s, like, “Right, I’ve said it, I can carry on now”. So I’d say, “I’ve been in a major accident, my husband’s in hospital, he requires 24/7 care, I need to sort this benefit out.” “Okay, I need to go through my questions”, blah, blah, blah. “So what is it your husband does?” For fuck’s sake! So that kind of stupidity! And it actually came that my social worker had to sit there and she had to ring them all up and deal with them all.
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