Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Accident

I got up late Saturday morning after a big night out at Hayley’s friends house party. I can honestly say that I haven’t been that drunk since my teens! I had drunk a fair bit of rum and coke at Uenuku (my old hostel) before arriving at the party then I drunk home made punch that had all kinds of spirit in it. In the end I was so pissed that on the walk home I kept falling over, so my housemate, Peter had to phone a taxi to take me home.

When I woke up Saturday morning I was still pissed and was taking it easy watching T.V. For some reason I went outside and Fiona (Jen’s sister) and Eoin dared me to put my Chelsea shorts on so that I was in a full kit. To Fiona’s surprise I whipped off the shorts I was wearing, took my Chelsea shorts off the washing line and started dancing around like an idiot. When I’d finished dancing I decided to get back on the beers with Fiona, Eoin and Niamh and so started another session.

Eventually we all got ready and headed to The Domain for Christmas in the Park. Our taxi driver drove past the bottle shop and refused to turn round so me, Eoin and Niamh had to go back, buy some beer and then walk to The Domain. By the time we arrived it was around 9:30pm and the others were already set up. I needed a pee so went to find a toilet with one of Fiona’s friends. I got impatient waiting in the queue and decided to cross the road, climb a bank and go against a tree. As I was coming down, I forgot about the wall and fell onto the road. The wall was about 1.5 meters high so adding my height I fell about 3 meters onto the concrete. I’ve since spoken to PC Keith, the copper who found me unconscious at the scene and according to eyewitnesses I was running down the bank (which is pretty steep), didn’t see the wall, carried on running and fell off. He tells me that as it was getting dark and with all the lights from the festival the wall and drop onto the road would have been hard to see. I had no marks on my body apart from a cut under my right eye, which needed 10 stitches so I would have landed head first on the road. My scar goes right up to the corner of my eye so I was lucky that I didn’t do any damage to it.

The wall I fell off

To assess my injury the medics performed a Glasgow Coma Scale test. The most severe score you can get is 1 out of 15, I scored a 3 so initially I was in a bad way. When I regained consciousness I was very confused, agitated and uncooperative so they put me into an induced coma to rest my brain and start the healing process. I can vaguely remember them inserting the tube. I had to keep swallowing as they pushed the tube down my throat and into my lungs. I remember it not being very pleasant, my gag reflex was going none stop and I constantly felt like I wanted to be sick. I find that you blank out the bad bits in unpleasant memories so I imagine the experience being far worse. 

As I didn’t have my wallet with me the police didn’t know who I was so PC Keith rang the last few people that had text me. He called my mate Tommy from the hostel and started to explain what had happened. People had been calling Tommy all day from my phone and messing around so he thought was another prank. Whilst still on the phone, he asked Hayley and Stacey what my surname was and walked off. The girls thought this was weird and when Tommy had put the phone down asked him what was going on. He explained that he thought it was another prank and filled the girls in. The girls didn’t think someone would make something like this up and my phone back.

Hayley asked PC Keith what was going on and if I had any friends with me? His reply was ‘No but there are lots of doctors and nurses with him’.  She then asked if she should make her way to the hospital and PC Keith said that would be good idea. The girls didn’t want everyone to come so had a quiet word with Tommy to tell him where they were going and said good bye.

Hayley had visions of me sitting there holding an ice pack on my head, unfortunately she was very wrong! The receptionist quickly took them to a family room, showed them someone’s I.D and asked if it was me. As it wasn’t PC Keith wanted them to identify me and briefly told them what had happened. He emphasized that it was an accident and I wasn’t pushed then He then took them to where I was being treated. They entered the cubical and saw 6 or 7 doctors around me, one of the doctors shouted abruptly ‘Get them out, get them out’.

A doctor approached and advised a nurse that the girls needed a private room. Scared by the thought of what was going on, Stacey asked the ambulance driver how serious my condition was, her reply was ‘it’s pretty serious’. The girls were taken to a private room and PC Keith went over the accident in more detail. He then asked a nurse if the girls cold identify me. She said that only one of them could go and Hayley put herself forward. All the hospital staff was very serious and a nurse asked Hayley if she would be okay seeing me. Although she knew my accident was serious she didn’t think seeing me would affect her the way it did. They pulled back the curtain and I was lying there in only my boxers and was hocked up to a breathing machine keeping me alive. I had lots of tubes attached to me and big patches of dried bloody around my eye and down my face. Hayley was only in the room for a few seconds, confirmed it was me and burst out crying. 

The scene of the accident

Hayley walked to the private room, told Stacey the bad news and they both started crying. PC Keith wanted to know all my details but the girls didn’t know much and couldn’t help him out. Tommy called to see what was happening. Hayley was still in tears and told him it wasn’t good so Tommy said he was on his way. PC Keith told Tommy not to bring anyone else so he came on his own.

The head doctor came into the private room and told everyone that I had suffered a brain injury. He told them that I was in an induced coma and was off to have an MRI scan as they thought they I would need an emergency operation on my skull to ease the swelling. The doctor said he would keep them updated then left to take me the MRI. Armed with his detective instinct PC Keith found mum’s number on my phone and gave her a call to let her know what was happening and find out more information about me. Mum answered the phone all happily and without giving time for an answer, asked what I was up to. The response wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Again PC Keith explained what had happened, told mum that some of my friends were with me and asked if she would like to speak with them. Hayley again put herself forward. Mum asked how bad it was, Hayley’s response was ‘it’s bad’. Mum said ‘tell him I love him’ and burst into tears. Tommy saw that Hayley was about to follow suit and quickly took the phone off her and tried to calm the situation. He told Mum that I was in the best possible place, had the right people looking after me and re-assured everything was going to be okay.

Lee and Damo eventually turned up to the hospital insisting on seeing me and wanting to know what was happening. Stacey responded angrily and told them to sit down and shut up, like an angry Mother telling off naughty boys. The atmosphere in the room was very tense and people weren’t really talking. Stacey was worrying about how the injury would affect the rest of my life and if I would be able to cope on my own. She works with stroke patients and see’s some horrible cases where her client’s can’t do much for them selves and are totally dependant on others. Tommy was feeling guilty about what had happen and kept blaming himself for not arriving at the festival earlier. He thought that if he were there then I wouldn’t have fallen and was blaming himself. PC Keith eventually said goodbye. He explained that this was an accident and was no longer a police matter. He comforted everyone and left. My friends and Mum tell me that PC Keith was excellent through out the whole drama. Hayley told me that he mentioned a few times that he wanted to hang around as he thought I wasn’t going to make it. I now find this a ridiculous thing to say and a fantastic way of dampening my friend’s sprit and causing unnecessary worrying. 

After the scan I was moved into a critical care ward for about an hour. Mum had requested that my friends stayed with me for as long as possible, so the nurses let everyone into the ward. No one knew what to say and found it hard talking to me in a coma. A Nurse explained that the scan had revealed two small blood clots on my brain but the injury wasn’t as severe as initially feared. My brain hadn’t swelled enough to cause further damage so I didn’t need surgery on my skull but my alcohol levels were very high so they would be keeping me in a coma and hydrated with a drip. The nurse said there was nothing anyone could do now and told them to go home and get some rest. She said they could come back tomorrow but not to bring too many of visitors because I wouldn’t be able to cope.

View from the top of the bank

When I came out of the coma the doctors performed another Glasgow Coma Scale test and this time I scored 7 out of 15. My brain injury was still classed as severe but my latest score was a big improvement on test result I was given at the scene of the accident.

On Sunday, Hayley, Karen, Damo, Lee and Tommy visited me. They were told that I was only allowed two visitors at a time for 10 minutes and not to ask me questions, as it would stress my brain and confuse me. I was awake but very dazed and didn’t really know what was going on. I was very frigidity and kept bouncing my leg in and out of the bed and pulling at my tubes going into my nose. I couldn’t stay awake for long and was constantly drifting in and out of sleep. The nurse said it was because to my alcohol levels was still high and I was under the influence. Apparently my blood tests showed that I was 6 times over the NZ drink drive limit, which is a lot higher the UK’s limit. There was no way I’d drunk anything close to 12 pints on Saturday.  My housemate tell me that I only had 5 or 6 bottles so I must have drunk myself into a right mess Friday night and just topped up.

Stacey, Steve and Wayne arrived, while the other were still visiting and were chatting in the waiting room. A nurse came over and told them that I was getting far too many visitors and to try and limit future visits. My friends in the hostel all wanted to visit and Karen and Hayley didn’t want to tell people they couldn’t see me. In the end they had to make a roster of when they could visit so everyone had a turn.
On Monday, Tommy came to visit on his way home from work and the good man brought me two sandwiches and a pack of crisps. He told me that he always got his sandwiches from this particular shop, as they were the best around. I was really pleased he had brought me something to eat because the hospital food was really bad and as I was munching on my sandwich I was telling him about it. All the tubes and drips had been removed and he could see I had already making big improvements from yesterday. I was in post-traumatic amnesia, which meant that my brain couldn’t lay down fresh memories, a bit like Dory from finding Nemo. Because of this I couldn’t remember what had been said and was constantly repeating myself and asking the same questions. Luckily my visitors didn’t seem to mind, they were just pleased to see me getting better. 

It doesn't really show how steep the bank is but gives a better idea

On Tuesday I had moved onto a ward opposite an old Maori woman who Tommy thought was weird and slightly crazy. He tells me that all the nurses were top quality throughout my stay. They were all really nice, very helpful and would do anything for me. He said that every day I was making huge improvements from the previous day. I was obsessed with the time and kept asking how long I had been in hospital for, what the day was and what the time was. I told him on a regular basis that I was bored and couldn’t wait to leave hospital. He told me that I would be out soon and I was in the best possible place. He could see that I knew hospital was the best place for me and that I understood what was happening.

Wednesday was my last full day in Auckland hospital as Thursday I was being moved to Cavit ABI for my rehabilitation. When Tommy arrived I was getting ready for a shower. I told him that I was bored and couldn’t wait to go home. I was still obsessed with the time and constantly repeated myself. As we were talking I kept mentioning my shower. He said it felt like I was trying to get ready of him and I was talking about the shower so passionately that after third time of mentioning it, he gave in, went home and let me have a shower. When I came out Stacey had arrived. I was walking on my own but was very stiff and wobbly. The nurses told me that this was my third shower of the day. Obviously I couldn’t remember the first two. I was asking Stacey if she thought three showers a day was too much? Apparently I told her that two showers a day is okay but three is a bit excessive.

That in a nutshell is what happened. Hopefully with all the insight from my friends it will shed some light on the events and I think it will be good for me to read in a few years. I will finish this blog by saying, I’m only 27 and already in my life I’ve had two accidents that could have finished me off! Hopefully I can remain injury free this time for a lot longer.


  1. Man, that was horrible. You're lucky there was no car around when it happened. How's your recovery now? Was there anything involved like having to call some lawyers? But come to think of it, you were alone and it's no one else's fault, anyways. You must be really careful next time.

  2. Yeah, they blocked the entrance because of the festival, so I was pretty lucky. The police emphasized that it was an accident and I wasn't pushed. When I went back to the park, I could see how I would have fell. I never wanted to take it any further.