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John

Brief Outline: He had a spinal cord injury.
Background: At the time of publishing this website, this person was in the process of filing a compensation claim. We cannot display further information until the case has been resolved.

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He suspects his injury was caused by the epidural that was used to anaesthetise him for his knee...

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Well I went into hospital in September. I was going to undergo a total knee replacement on the left knee. I had osteoarthritis in the knee, so I had no choice but to have this operation anyway. Anyway, they proceeded with the operation. After the operation I didn’t gain full movement of my legs, or my trunk – would be from your back round from your spine around to the trunk of your stomach – and I stayed in hospital for five months in which they was rehabilitating me.

 
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John describes the medication he takes and its side effects. His GP can't change his medication...

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I was waking up like half asleep still. But I’d had a good sleep. Amitriptyline used to knock me out. I could go out at 10 o’clock at night and then I didn’t want to get up at all the next morning. All I wanted to do was sleep, sleep, sleep. Because I’m on Pregabalin as well, which is like for neuropathic pains in my legs where the nerves are not reaching where they are supposed to be reaching, you get neuropathic pain, which are like shocks and it feels as if someone’s stabbed you in the legs. And it can be very painful. Whereas I’ve experienced a lot of bad pain, especially in my right leg, more so than to my left leg. But I have had some in my left leg, but it’s minor. My right leg sometimes feels like someone’s digging a garden fork in it, in the muscles.
 
And what does the Pregabalin do?
 
Pregabalin’s supposed to control and stop. It’s like I think they used to use Pregabilin for people that suffer with epilepsy. But it’s like a neuropathic drug and my doctor can’t stop it. Because I asked him if he could stop them. “Can I come off them?” And he said no. And only the hospital, or the consultant that deals with you can take you off them when he’s ready to. So I’m still taking all them. I’ve got high blood pressure as well, which I’m on Ramipril for high blood pressure. I take aspirin now instead of Clopidogrel which I was on. Anyway the Aspirin was just to thin my blood really. One a day. I take Vitamin D tablets, which another hospital that I’m under now – different to the other hospitals that done my surgery – they said that I should be on Vitamin D tablets because the other hospital didn’t give me the Vitamin D tablets.
 
And what are the Vitamin D tablets for?
 
They’re for the bones. It’s sunshine basically. I didn’t have enough Vitamin D in my system. Also [rehab hospital] said I needed to take Senna, which controls my bowels, because my bowels are not working. They work – I know when I want to go, both, to number one and number two toilet. I can tell I’m going on both occasions and I can feel I’m going. But I’m on Senna and Sodium docusate to help me clear my motions, which the other doctor, the other hospital didn’t pick up on either, which they should have done. Hence why I asked to go to [rehab hospital], from my doctor and I was recommended that by [name] from the Spinal Injuries Association that I went to [rehab hospital]. Because when I was in hospital, the hospital that I was under, they were doubts about whether I was, they were going to rehabilitate me theirselves or they was going to send me to [rehab hospital]. They wouldn’t send me to [rehab hospital], they rehabilitated me theirselves.
 
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John learned how to use his wheelchair with help from physiotherapists and by attending a course...

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They [rehabilitation staff] used to take me for wheelchair skills...You go for wheel chair skills up and down ramps to get you used to wheelchair friendly. We used to go round the block in the wheelchair on the hospital grounds. Then they used to get someone in from Back Up to come round to teach you how to get up small kerbs and things, which you’d have to bend right forward and get up the kerb – but it wasn’t too much of a kerb because I couldn’t do it – and go down backwards. So people can go down frontwards. I’m not so clever going down. I can wheel-balance in the wheelchair. But, I can tilt and balance in a chair without falling backwards. Because I’ve been on the wheelchair course and I was taught different techniques. Plus, I went into [rehabilitation hospital] and they taught me different techniques with wheelchairs and occupational therapy. 

 
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The DVLA withheld John's licence until his driving ability was assessed. His licence now...

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Is the mobility component of your DLA now entirely devoted to the payments for your car?
 
I think it is. I don’t think I’ll get nothing back. When I went to Citroen, because I went via Motability, I went for the test driving assessment. I submitted my licence before I even went to the test to DVLA. I said to them, “Circumstances have changed. I’m an incomplete paraplegic.” I told them, “T12 L4.” And they said, “Could you send your licence in?” Which I did. They withheld it, and they said, “We’re going to revoke it until you go for your assessment.”
 
And where did you have to go?
 

I went to a driving assessment in [place name], which Motability paid for me to go. I don’t know how much it cost, but they paid for it anyway. And I passed that assessment first time. And then they gave me my licence back, sent my licence back. I’ve got a disabled on my licence and I can only drive hand controlled vehicles. So that was a bonus and a big plus for me, because it gives me a bit more freedom to get around to shops and places. So, it changed my life a bit, although I haven’t used it. I’ve only done a hundred miles in it so far. 

 
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After his spinal injury John attended a course run by the Back-Up Trust on using a wheelchair. He...

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But I’ve been on Back Up course; that helped me domestically. I went up to a place near Scotland and I done a Back Up wheelchair course to help me out, because after the operation I was really down and crying, and trying to find something or some way around what I was going through at the time. All I kept doing was breaking down all the time, and crying.
 
The Spinal Injuries Association was great with us. He used to come where I was in hospital. I think it was every month. It was every third week he’d come to the hospital and I used to wait for him, be glad he was coming. When they said he was coming, I used to look forward to his company, because he told you how it was. He told you the truth. And how it was going to be. And how everything would be. And he gave me a lot of different things and contacts, like Back Up. He said you can go on Back Up groups or you go away. They teach you wheelchair studies, and he said about Motability driving. You’ll go to [place name] for your driving test and you want to try and get your licence and it gives you that more, bit more freedom, and which it has done. Because I know I can just go to the car now, I’ve got to get the wheelchair in obviously, but I’ve done all that. I was doing a lot of that yesterday. About eight times I’ve got it in and out the car.
 
And how did you first come into contact with the Spinal Injuries Association? How did you find them? 
 
The hospital requested them to come. And then [the support worker] he was coming every third week and I used to look forward, and I used to go and see him every time. He didn’t come just to see me, he come to see other patients, but I always used to meet up with him when he was coming.

 

 
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John was unable to travel on the bus twice because of a broken ramp, and a pram in the wheelchair...

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The transport is atrocious.
 
Why is that?
 
Trying to get on a bus with wheelchairs is atrocious in London, because I’ve had a couple of occasions I’ve got onto London Transport and sent them an email on two occasions. I had one occasion where I was with my daughter and my son. They were going swimming. I was going to [place]. And they were going to the swimming baths just up the road here. So they got on the bus – I was with them – the bus driver, he told the bus driver that I want to get on. I don’t want to get off. He tried the slope, the ramp, because it didn’t work, he drove off because it wouldn’t come down. And left me there at the bus stop. So my daughter and son’s gone without me and they’re waiting for me to get on. So I sent a nasty email to them to say, oh you drove off with my daughter on the bus, but fortunately she was with my son, she’s deaf. I think it very poor, for you to just drive off and leave someone disabled at the bus stop in a wheelchair. I said, is it discrimination against people with wheelchairs? I sent him a right nasty thing.
 
And there was another occasion where I collected my daughter by bus from [place] from her friend’s house. She stayed over. We come back got to [place]. I got to the bus stop. I got to the [place] bus stop, a 47 bus; they are the buses that I have trouble with. I have had trouble with all the time getting, trying to get access to. I stopped, the bus stopped. I said to the, there was a pram, one pram there or push chair. I said, “Well could you let me on the bus please?” He said, “No, we’ve got a, there’s a lady with a buggy there.” I said, “Well could you ask her if she didn’t mind collapsing it?” He said, “I’ve asked her. She don’t want to.” I said, “I’m going to take your number and report you, because them spaces are supposed to be for wheelchairs. And you’re supposed to give priority to wheelchair users.” He said, “Oh.” And then he shut the doors and my hand got trapped in the door, where I was holding the handle and he drove off and I just pulled it out from the rubber bit, so I sent an email and said, nasty email. I said, “What a fine example you are, with the Paralympics and the Olympics coming up. I said I’m going to get onto Boris Johnson and complain about the buses. I think you’re disgusting.” That’s what I put.
 
They put back, I got a letter from that first one, saying, “There’s no action to be taken.” Do you know, when they drove off with my daughter and that? “There’s no further action going to be taken,” they said. That’s from London Transport.

 

 
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John slept in the living room for nearly two years and used a commode to go to the toilet until...

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And so before when you were down here [in the living room] and you didn’t have the stair lift how did you manage with things like washing and going to the toilet?
 
Oh it was a pain. I used to wash at the sink in the kitchen. I used to go to the toilet. I’d have to put my splints on to go to the toilet. I couldn’t get upstairs. I used to have to put my splints on to go to the toilet, but before that they had, before that they gave me a commode, just a cheap commode really – not like nothing you’d get in the hospital because it was just what they send you home with if you like – which was really not hygienic. Because if I’d got to go to the toilet, I have to go in the kitchen because of my daughter and I complained about it. I said, “Because it’s a food prep area. And you’re making me go to toilet in my kitchen.” I said, “How unhygienic is that?” I said, “You have it. You do it.” So they got the toilet done for me. 
 
They put handrails [in the toilet]. And I can go in there with my splints and the Zimmer frame, turn round and back up to the toilet with the hand rails, holding the sink and hand rail. And I’ve got a frame round the toilet that helps me to sit down and I’ve got an extension on the toilet pan, so as I don’t go too far down and I can’t get up.

 

 
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John's phone was stolen when he dropped it on the floor in a public toilet. Initially he thought...

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Before your injury did you think the world was like this for disabled people?
 
Do you know what? It has opened my eyes. I didn’t think it was like this before my injury because I don’t think you think about it. You take it for granted, everyone does. It’s like I said to my occupational therapy about the shower. I said, “I can’t have a shower. I’ve got to go in the swimming baths to get a shower.” I said, “You go home, forget everything, have a shower, do what you want to do.” I said, “I cannot do that” So no, I took it for granted. 
 
I’ve had occasion where I went into a [public] toilet. I dropped my phone. A young fellow come past, he picked the phone up and went with it. I thought he was going to give me it. I said, “That’s my phone.” And he’s gone. So this is how the society is in London. It’s not really A-Plus. It’s not great round this area anyway. That’s how they are. My partner was outside the toilet. I said, “That guy’s just took me phone. I dropped it. I was getting a tissue out me pouch and when I went to pick it up he come along and he’s took it. I thought he was giving me it and he’s gone. I said, ‘Excuse me, that’s my phone’.” And that was it. I got out there and he’s gone with it. Couldn’t find him.

 

 
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John has been left at the bus stop because ramps haven't worked or there was no room for him. One...

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Trying to get on a bus with wheelchairs is atrocious in London. I’ve had a couple of occasions I’ve got onto London Transport and sent them an email. I had one occasion where I was with my daughter and my son. They was going swimming. I was going to [place name]. And they was going to the swimming baths just up the road here. So they got on the bus. I was with them. He told the bus driver that I want to get on. He tried the slope, the ramp. It didn’t work. He drove off because it wouldn’t come down and left me there at the bus stop. So my daughter and son’s gone without me and they’re waiting for me to get on. So I sent a nasty email to them to say “You drove off with my daughter on the bus, but fortunately she was with my son. I think it very poor for you to just drive off and leave someone disabled at the bus stop in a wheelchair. Is it discrimination against people with wheelchairs?” I sent them a right nasty thing.
 
And there was another occasion where I collected my daughter by bus from her friend’s house. I got to the bus stop for the [number] bus. They are the buses that I have trouble with. I have had trouble with all the time getting, trying to get access. The bus stopped. There was a pram, one pram there or push chair. I said, “Well could you let me on the bus please?” He said, “No, there’s a lady with a buggy there.” I said, “Well could you ask her if she didn’t mind collapsing it?” He said, “I’ve asked her. She don’t want to.” I said, “I’m going to take your number and report you, because them spaces are supposed to be for wheelchairs. And you’re supposed to give priority to wheelchair users.” He said, “Oh.” And then he shut the doors and my hand got trapped in the door, where I was holding the handle and he drove off and I just pulled it out from the rubber bit, so I sent a nasty email. I said, “What a fine example you are, with the Paralympics and the Olympics coming up. I’m going to get onto Boris Johnson and complain about the buses. I think you’re disgusting.” That’s what I put. I got a letter from that first one, saying, “There’s no action to be taken.” That’s from London Transport. I sent that email, nasty email, the second one. They emailed back and said, “Oh we got your message”. And that was it.

 

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