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I volunteer for Day One Trauma as a peer support worker, as they supported me after my accident in February 2021 and I wanted to do the same for others.

Recently, Day One asked if I’d answer some questions about my accident and the aftermath, to help them in preparation for the British Orthopaedic Association conference in September 2022. I had originally planned to attend with them, but due to impending surgery I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t have to back out at short notice, so we decided against it.

I wanted to share my responses because it might help others who have been involved in something similar.

The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) conference brings clinicians, researchers, and suppliers together to discuss new technology and patient care. Most of the conference focuses on solid, tangible things like surgical procedures, bodies, bones, medical techniques, and technologies. Day One attends to offer a different perspective and amplify the voices of people affected by major trauma.

Day One wants to bring to life ‘the ripple effect’: how the aftermath of major trauma has far reaching consequences for individuals beyond the injury or time in hospital.

The following are the questions I was asked and my personal experience of the time and how I was feeling, emotionally:

1. Immediately post injury, how would you describe your state of mind? How would you describe the emotions you were experiencing?

Terrible, confused, scared, isolated. I had no idea where I was, what had happened, and I panicked. Because of Covid I wasn’t allowed to see my family, my daughter had also been involved in the accident with me and I didn’t know how she was. I had probably been told but my memories of the accident and the days after are very sketchy.


2. In the aftermath of your injury whilst you were in hospital, do you remember being asked for and then giving consent to a healthcare professional for any surgical intervention? If you do recall, please let us know when you remember being asked for consent; for example, was it immediately after the injury, or some weeks later? What did the process of giving consent for treatments and procedures feel like?

Yes, but barely, I remember speaking to a vascular surgeon, but I just signed what was required. I was on a lot of medication so didn’t really understand the form or what was happening, I expect I signed more consents but I don’t remember.


3. After your injury, what did you think your future would look like? How did you think your life would change? How did it feel?

I think I was a little naïve. Even doing the job I do, I thought that in a year I would be absolutely fine, I remember setting goals and they were all 12 months post-accident. I never thought over 18 months later I still wouldn’t be back to full time work, recovering from recent further surgery, in daily discomfort and feeling older every day that passes. I wake up on a morning and it’s like I am 84 not 34. I get anxious in situations that I wouldn’t have done before, and sometimes I just cannot be bothered anymore. I try to keep positive, and I also accept it could have been a lot worse, I am lucky to be alive (so I have been told). I hate planning for big events like weddings, or posh do’s as I can no longer wear heels and certain footwear or don’t like certain clothes because of my scars and the changes to my body since the accident. I get anxious for weeks before.


4. Have you noticed any connections or similarities between your experiences and the experiences of someone else you know who has been through a traumatic injury?

Yes, lots, not necessarily road traffic accidents, but friends who have lost loved ones, who have had cancer. We all see life differently, but at the same time all have very different ways of coping. I recently attended Dorset Orthopaedics annual conference and heard from several amputees and the words used were all very similar, it definitely resonates with you. Also, people seem to have very similar hospital experiences. I cried when hearing some of the stories, and I never used to cry at things like that. Before the accident I wouldn’t normally show my emotions.


5. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Surgeons seem to forget that patients are people. I would like to think I understand medical terminology more than most and half the time I did not know what was going on, what injuries I sustained or what surgery had been done or the outcome. It was very scary, and doctors rounds always seemed very rushed so I had little time to take in and understand what was being said to me or ask questions.

I hope speaking about my personal experience gives others some comfort, knowing you are not on your own with how you’re feeling. Day One have been a great support to me, and they are there to support others as well.  You can find more information about them here.