A life altering accident left Mike Hodgskin needing to relearn how to move, stand and walk.
Mike doesn’t remember the events of the accident which changed the lives of himself and his family.
On July 19th 2019 he was riding his motorcycle on a road he typically rides on when a car pulled directly in front of him, leaving him with no room to break, swerve or otherwise avoid the collision.
His motorcycle hit the side of the vehicle, throwing him over the roof onto the ground where he sustained significant injuries.
He had a subarachnoid haemorrhage (a brain bleed), a broken shoulder, collapsed lung, broken hip, fractured pelvis, broken ankle, ruptured bladder and lots of internal bleeding.
He was taken by air ambulance to Brighton Royal Sussex where he would spend the next ten weeks.
Several of the emergency responders could not believe he was still alive; his legs were pointing in opposite directions and witnesses feared he had lost them completely.
For three months after the accident he would not be able to weight bear, and metal bars were needed to hold himself together.
A year on his bladder has healed, however his pelvis is misaligned, causes him pain and may require future surgery to repair.
His cognitive ability is yet to be tested, but he still suffers from periodic headaches, forgets words and names.
“Sometimes there are just blanks that come up in my memory,” he said.
Mike describes his rehabilitation as “hell” on one hand, but good on another, and it is something that will need to remain ongoing now and into the future to maintain mobility.
“With rehab you need to have a degree of sheer bloody mindedness and determination just to push yourself through it, because it’s painful, it’s repetitive and it can be soul destroying.
“You lose a lot of your life if you’re residentially staying away.”
Following his discharge from hospital Mike spent time in a residential until more than 60 miles from his home and family.
He was there for 12-weeks, trying to learn to walk again.
The first time he did walk again, felt “amazing”.
“I was literally diarised, the orthopaedic surgeon, said three months with the framework in, no weight baring, so the three months were up, I went to see him, and he said okay you look fine, go and start working on it.”
“The next day the physio team said, let’s try standing up and I literally just stood up.”
He was shaking and painful, but he was determined to do it and with a zimmer-frame was able to walk a short way.
“For the next two hours I was exhausted and asleep, but I stood up when I was supposed to, then from there we progressed and progressed.”
Mike had a “very good” case manager and multi-disciplinary team appointed following the accident and had a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, personal trainer, sports massage and aqua therapists as part of his rehabilitation team.
“The benefit of the rehab side of it, is if you get the right team around you, it’s very good,” he said.
“That’s what you have to focus on and that’s what you have to bounce off.”
Once he was able to return home, he said having them there as support helped him push himself to where he is now and how advanced his recovery has become.
“The speed at which my recovery is coming on, if someone hasn’t seen me for a month or so, they can’t believe I am standing and walking.”
Although having such a strong team around him was important, Mike said it also had to be realistic.
“It was very important for me to maintain individuality and what I wanted, while there was the drive to achieve the end result, I also had an impact on that.”
“If I wanted to do something different or in a different timescale, I told people and I drove that, it’s important not to lose your individuality when you’re in that bubble otherwise it gets very hard.”
The impact on Mike’s family over the last year has been enormous, not only the day of the accident but every single day since.
“I cannot put a list together, it is everything, from my own recovery as a person, as an individual as a man, to my wife having to come and visit, her having to pick up everything at home,” he said.
“I haven’t been home to help with any of the chores, the paperwork, the financials, the admin, any of that sort of stuff, she’s had to take time off work due to the stress.”
He said the stress of having to organise everything following the accident had been “absolutely hideous”.
For his family, part of the challenge is how focussed his vision had to be on his rehabilitation at all times.
“My vision would be purely on this week I need to move my foot, or I need to move my leg, or I need to stand up, whereas the whole world around me would have to deal with everything else.,” he said.
“I had to be in a very small bubble, which was me and my day or my week, which was good, but very frustrating for the people around me.”
One of the things which has helped, something he wishes they had done more fully, was keeping a journal of his rehabilitation process.
“Because there are comedy moments, it’s very bizarre but there are things which make you laugh when they shouldn’t,” he said.
“But equally, it’s important when you’re struggling on the rehab journey and having low points, you read back on how you were, and you realise how far you’ve come.”
His safety advice for road users is simple, “think bike and look twice.”
“It can happen with cyclists, it can happen with motorcyclists, you just need to be aware of your surroundings and concentrate on it.”
“If you don’t think you’re able to concentrate on driving, then pull over, if you’re tired, or something else, don’t touch your phones.”
Mike and his family have never received an apology from the other driver involved in the collision, but through his sheer determination on his rehabilitation journey he is starting to return to some of the activities he loves.
Before the accident Mike had been riding his bike for more than 25 years, he will never ride a bike again.
“It was my major hobby, I did tours around Europe and all sorts of stuff, so that’s a massive thing that’s been taken away,” he said.
He was also an avid sailor, sailing yachts at a competitive racing level.
Two-weeks ago he was able to get back out on the waters again, and while he currently couldn’t do all the things he could before his goal was to get strong enough and balanced enough to get back to racing.
This weekend he took part in his first yacht race since his accident.
Being able to take part in day to day activities, spend time with his family and walk the dog are also in the plans.
5,557 motorcyclists were seriously injured in a road traffic accident on the roads across the UK last year, that means there are countless families going through their own rehabilitation journey, right now.
To find out more about Road Victim Month and follow the campaign click here.