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Interview 37

Age at interview: 58
Brief Outline: Was admitted to intensive care in 2004 after having a motorbike accident. Spent 9 days in intensive care and 16 days in a trauma ward.
Background: Occupation: manager. Marital status: married. Number of children: 5. Ethnic background: White British.

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He felt extremely emotional at different times and discussed his feelings with a doctor at a...

He felt extremely emotional at different times and discussed his feelings with a doctor at a...

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The emotional side was very difficult to come to terms with. They are different. A physical thing you can stop doing what hurts you but how do you stop an emotional thing? You don't take a deep breath and sniff and then go on to the next thing. It doesn't happen. It's overwhelming. The tears start flowing. You can cry uncontrollably and there was no reason for it. It's difficult to come to terms with, very difficult. I can, since having had this complaint, I can relate to being to the ladies equivalent of PMT. It's horrendous, it really is. 

To come to terms with why you would suddenly want to cry and no stopping you. You don't know when it's going to start. You don't know when it's going to stop. You don't know how long it's going to go on for. I found this one of the worst things to come to terms with. Again, like I say, it's years since I've cried before. It's a natural thing that made me cry. This was unnatural.

My second visit I think with [the consultant], I asked him about counselling and he said that he didn't believe in it. He thought it was a retrograde step. People were better if they didn't go for counselling and just let their emotions out. I think he was basing it on my emotions and the fact that if I cried and let this out of my system I would not need counselling. It was because I was holding it within and not letting forth the tears that I was doing myself no favours, which is why I'm sure he felt that counselling wasn't necessary. He was telling me to cry and get it out of my system. I was not doing this.

 

He had an accident riding on his motorbike but remembered nothing of his time in intensive care.

He had an accident riding on his motorbike but remembered nothing of his time in intensive care.

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And basically from what I've been told and I was on the approach road to the village of which obviously I travelled daily. I mean I know the road like the back of my hand and, evidently, I was following three vehicles and I've always maintained that I would only have ever overtaken those three vehicles if they were going too slow or they were all over the road and they were better behind me rather than in front of me. It was, on recollection, it was a silly thing to do only because of what's happened to me. Under normal circumstances I would have done it. 

I would have got away with it but because of what happened, it was a stupid thing to do. I was always a competent rider. I always have been a competent driver. I've respected other road users and I find it very difficult to put myself or recollect being in the position that I overtook those three vehicles. There was nothing wrong in overtaking the vehicles. I understand they were travelling at about 45 miles an hour and I overtook keeping within the speed limit according to the witnesses. I overtook at about 55, 60 miles an hour. 

I'd got up the, from what I can recollect because I got in front of the lead vehicle and a young lad on a scooter decided to do a U-turn in my path and I had, there was no where to go. There was no distance between him and the car in front for me to avoid him. I just ploughed straight into him.

I have no recollection of the accident. I understand there was a helicopter hovering above. Paramedics were there. Evidently two people who were, I presume in the vehicles, lifted the bike from me and in doing so I presume they extracted the cycle stand from the back of my ankle. 

And, like I say, I have no recollection of the accident, only the pain and then punishment afterwards.
 

He had a road traffic accident and his first memory was of being in a ward a few weeks later.

He had a road traffic accident and his first memory was of being in a ward a few weeks later.

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On this particular day I did go out to [city]. I don't know why. It's not from memory but it just felt right and I have no recollection of the journey. I have no recollection of returning. In fact I don't remember much at all then until almost two, three weeks later. By now I was in trauma. I do not remember my time at all in ICU unit. I've been told that they kept me sedated because I wouldn't leave the tubes alone. I just wanted to rip out all the tubes and go for a walk. Just leave. I was a smoker prior to going into the hospital and obviously I had to give that up and I'm wondering if that was part of my settling down, if you like, and wanting to get rid of the tubes. I just wanted to go for a smoke. I just wanted to go back to my normal life. I didn't want to be there. I don't do hospitals at the best of times but for some reason when you're there you know nothing of it.

Like I say I have no recollection of ICU unit apart from people telling me that visitors were plentiful and that obviously if you're unconscious then you're not aware of that. I was, so I understand, I was shaven, hair washed, nails cut and things like that. Things that you generally do and take for granted to do. And they all had to be done for me. I cannot remember going from the ICU unit to the trauma ward. I don't know whether I walked or whether I was trolleyed. So I have no recollection.

 

He had to accept what others told him because he couldn't remember what had happened to him and...

He had to accept what others told him because he couldn't remember what had happened to him and...

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I don't remember coming in the house, my home. I don't remember that at all. I have very little recollection of the next month or two months. Christmas is a bit of a blur. I mean I love Christmas generally but I suppose it's the healing process which you're...Obviously I had brain damage and it's the physical and brain reactions to accepting what's happened to you that you think that. You tend to shut other things out. I don't do ill. I've been with my, the company I work for, for 43 years and I've never hardly been. I wouldn't say I haven't been ill. We're all ill obviously but I'd never taken weeks in illness in a year and it was hard to accept the fact that what had happened to me, if you don't do ill you don't accept it. And the fact that you're body is telling you, you can't do what you wanted to do or what you normally do, it's very hard to recollect and respond.  

I remember during the period at home that my brother and sister came daily to see me. And that was, I understand from my wife, she looked forward to that obviously because it relieved her from looking after me. But having said that I have no recollection or very, very slim recollection of her looking after me. She tells me things now and I don't believe her. You didn't do that for me because I can't remember it. So, I find that very difficult and we can have difference of opinions. I have to accept what she says though it doesn't sit well for obvious reasons. I don't remember it so it didn't happen. She remembers it, she done it, so I have to accept it.  

 

He felt like a child the first time his brother took him out and was very emotional.

He felt like a child the first time his brother took him out and was very emotional.

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I have very, very vague recollections of other things. I know, one thing I do remember is when my brother came over, he offered to take me out. He was going to Sainsbury's and he offered to take me and this was going to be a first for me. I'd only got used to the house and the hospital obviously while I was there. I have no recollection of the journey home in my sister's car. Though I will go back to that in a minute.  

I remember my brother, he walked before me to the front door, opened the front door. He then opened the outer door because we have like a lobby. I then shut the front door and the feeling that came over me of the hugeness of the world, God. I mean, it was almost like being a child again. It was awesome. I'm about to step out of the door and there is, and all I was used to was rooms. There is four walls and a ceiling and a floor. All I'd got when I stepped out the door was a floor. There was no walls, no ceiling. I stepped out the door and I said to him, it was being like a child again. It was frightening. It was awesome. 

I stepped outside the second door and the feeling was awesome. It felt, I felt so weak, so oh I don't know. It's a job to explain. It was like, I was a child and I was going out with my father and I was looking for my father to help me because of the fear I was going through. But anyway we walked down over the path and, of the drive and I followed my brother and we got to the curb and there was traffic coming left and right and I felt so weak. Because of my ankle injury I'm thinking if I start walking across the road now and a vehicle comes I'm not going to get over. I can't break into a run as I could before the accident. And again it was the second moment of terror, of panic. It was awesome. Anyway I followed him. He didn't understand how I felt. Not because he didn't understand but because I didn't tell him. This issue again is a macho thing I think. There are certain things you will say and other things you are just not, you would suffer. And this was one of the things I was going to suffer. 

Anyway we got into the car and I found that very strange because this is a very claustrophobic, and though he had quite a large car it still felt that, the roof was only inches away and the screen was only inches away. And I'd only been used to rooms and then all of a sudden I'm in the big outside world and then all of a sudden I'm in something even smaller. But I think I could handle it. 

 

He had no recollection of his time in hospital and talking to nurses who had looked after him...

He had no recollection of his time in hospital and talking to nurses who had looked after him...

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I was trying to piece things together in my mind. I was trying to put right a jigsaw of my life, if that's the best way to describe it. And I needed to put pieces together to complete, as I was before. I know it's going to be a question of time but my life was built like a jigsaw. Several pieces fit into place and then your life becomes part of a big scheme again.  

Anyway, I did, I went to the ICU unit. I met one of the nurses and I remember her saying to me, she was the nurse that dealt with the toilets part of the patient. She had no qualms about it. It was a part of life. I hadn't considered that. Obviously if you're out then yes it has to be done. I'm, again I am a very private person and I did my own ablutions, and it was strange to meet this nurse who was readily to tell you that yes that's what she did for you. That wasn't part of the healing but it was something that needed to be done. 

I didn't meet none of the other nurses or any of the other nurses that dealt with my tubing, my breathing. But I have been told by my sister that I did actually die twice. And my lungs stopped twice so there are nurses there in the ICU unit that I've got to be grateful for because their reactions, their dedication made me here now. Yeah, I mean yes it's all part of this big puzzle. I am here now. I'm not 100%, I'm far from it but my puzzle is getting complete. And the fact the nurses like that, who are dedicated to their job, that have helped me piece together my life. They were part of my piecing structure. 
 

He was disappointed that his pay would be reduced if he continued working part-time, but later...

He was disappointed that his pay would be reduced if he continued working part-time, but later...

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I went to see my GP. Fortunately my company had been in touch with my GP and my GP had spoken to the company secretary and they were in agreement that going back part-time for this amount of time would be acceptable though I think they had a time limit set on me. That was probably by the board of directors. Anyway, I saw the doctor and said that I'd reached my maximum, four hours a day. She suggested that I done four hours a day for a couple or three weeks and then try to go up to the five which I did and yes she was right. Within two weeks I got used to the four and I was ready for the five-hour day. So I did, I went to the five-hour day and the company secretary and the MD said they wanted to see me just an update and how I was coping etc. but I think I had, I'd had about three or four meetings with them during my period of re-education.  

And I went in and saw the MD and the company secretary. The MD had said to me that if my six months of sickness was up on the last Saturday and I think this was about a Wednesday I was seeing them, and what he was going to do was look at my annual salary and equate it to an hourly rate and then pay me for the hours I was there. And this I found very obnoxious. I thought they had my interest at heart. I'd done 43 years for this company and here they were talking of cutting my money and making me suffer. There was also the fact that I didn't need this. There were so many things happening in my life, so many things happening different in my life, trying to adjust to work. Trying to remember people's names and things of this nature, I did not want this added worry.  

But I took on board what he said and I think, I know definitely the following Monday was the first time I went back on 8 hours. I done 8 hours and I never looked back. I went on to do a 39-hour week. I am now doing probably a 44/45-hour week. He obviously regretted what he'd said because the company secretary approached me and said, if I could maintain a 30-hour week they wouldn't dock my money. Well to my mind I wasn't far off it. I was doing a five-hour day. That equates to 25 hours a week. I was only five hours lacking and I did do work part of my lunch hour so I was only a couple of hours short of what they demanded. To my mind it was unnecessary. It was added hassle I didn't need but, looking back, it was a challenge. And I always rose to a challenge and they didn't beat me. I beat them. It was probably one of the best things to happen in my life in reflection because it encouraged me to try and get a grip of more of my life as it was.

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