This is some of my story about the struggle of losing my brother Tony to a drink driver in 2006,

and the many obstacles I faced to get back what was left of my life.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: HULL DAILY MAIL 2013

 

The Day It All Changed
By Stephen Meara-Blount

Saturday 21st 2006 started just like any other Saturday. My younger brother Tony

occasionally came over from his home in Grimsby with his young daughter Poppy. He

had recently split up with his wife, so some weekends he an Poppy would stay the

weekend in Hull at our family home. During the day he liked to catch up with other

family members and friends, so drove around Hull visiting, until eventually arriving

back at our house for teatime. Each weekend he came over from Grimsby, he would

have a night out on the Saturday night with our sister's husband Mike.

Tony and Mike both had an illness which gave them a bond. They were both suffering

different forms of cancer. Near the start of 2005, Tony noticed a lump growing in the

upper half of his left leg. After many doctors' appointments and examinations, the G.P.

eventually decided to send him to a specialist at a hospital where it was finally

confirmed that he had developed a cancerous tumour in his leg.  A little time later, he

was admitted into hospital for surgery to remove the infected muscle tissue and the

tumour, and consequently there followed radio and chemotherapy sessions for several

weeks later.

These sessions took it's toll on Tony, but he persevered, and through sheer

determination, the cancer seemed to have been finally eradicated by November 2005,

although obviously there were follow on tests in the forthcoming months. But for now,

it was looking good.  His health continued to improve, and although he was walking

with elbow crutches, he wasn't fully dependant on them. Mike was also suffering from

cancer, and each time Tony came to Hull, they would sometimes meet up on the

Saturday night to go out for a drink and try to enjoy themselves. As was the case on this

particular Saturday night, 21st January, 2006.

At that time, I was the resident DJ in the local pub, The Station, which was only around

the corner from where I lived. I said my cheerio's to everyone at home as I gathered

some equipment I needed for the disco/karaoke night, which I had been doing for

around 8 years at that point, every Saturday night.

Later in the night, the pub crowd started thinning out as the drinkers would leave to go

on to the town centre for the night clubs. My friends' daughter Sam and her partner

and their friends stayed for a couple more drinks and chatted with my brother and

Mike when they walked in just before closing time. Denise the Landlady said it was ok

now for me to turn off the disco lights and music, so I did, and then we all sat around

the bar chatting.  Eventually Sam, and her partner Mike and their friends decided to

go and get a taxi. The taxi office was only yards away so we said our goodnights to them

and they left. Denise locked the pub doors, then  me, Tony and Mike sat with Denise and

her husband Reg. Tony charmed his way into getting a final drink out of Denise for us

all before we left. We drank and chatted just for a few more minutes and then we

finally said our farewells to Denise and Reg. After a little bit of banter and jokes with

her at the door, she said goodnight and locked up. It was by now, fast approaching

1.15am. Tony, Mike and myself walked a few steps to the roadside and chatted as we

stood at the kerb. I was looking around to see if the road was safe to cross. I only noticed

one cars'  headlights in the distance.  It was an unusually quiet night on the Beverley

Road considering it is the main route into the town centre. It was a clear dry night, but

it was cold. We started to the road, and I carried on looking around to make sure it was

still safe to do so. I still only saw that one car in the distance, still heading our way, and

as we reached the white lines in the middle of the road, there still seemed plenty of

time to safely reach the kerb at the other side of the road. We continued to talk as we

carried on crossing the road but we wasn't aware that the oncoming car I had seen in

the distance, was thundering down the road towards us at a high speed, and just as we

were about to step safely onto the pavement, I heard a loud scream, or shout, I can't

really remember which. As I quickly turned my head in the direction of the shout, the

speeding car hit us. There wasn't any time to act or get out of it's way.

I remember the noises our bodies made as the car hit us. I heard the thud of the car

slam into my body, my moans and groans, and my bones cracking. The realisation that

I had been struck by a car became apparent as I was thrown onto the bonnet, then into

the windscreen, and from there, I was thrown up onto the roof of the car. I couldn't tell

which way up or down I was. It seemed to go on for an eternity. Then as the driver

braked hard, I was violently thrown back down onto the road in front of the car. I felt

the rushing of air in my ears, and the feeling I was violently spinning round. But yet

through all that was happening to me, I knew that this was bad, and was going over and

over in my head that I have been hit by a car. I was convinced that I was going to die,

and yet through all the turmoil, the fear, and the helplessness, I was consciously aware

that the car was a red Vauxhall. I must have seen the emblem on the front of the car at

some point. As I eventually fell back to the ground, the thud as I landed the road on my

back, left me completely winded. I could not breath. I really started having problems

breathing, I couldn't get my breath. Yet as I gazed up at the night sky, I noticed that

the stars seemed very bright.  I continued to try and catch my breath, and then I

started to feel my tears falling down my face. I laid there in silence, and felt so alone. I

thought that this is what it must feel like to know you are going to die. I began not to

feel fear anymore. I couldn't actually feel any pain at that point. I started to accept

that I am very likely going to die very soon and just waited for death to come. I started

to wonder where I had landed, and if another car could come along and hit us again. It

seemed like an eternity before I heard anyone come to help us.  But suddenly, I saw

Sam, my friends' daughter earlier from the pub, leaning over me. Her face was very

close to mine and crying so much. She began crying hysterically at me and telling me

not to die. I thought that I must be in a bad way. Sam and her partner Mike and their

friends were still waiting outside the taxi office just a little further along the road

when it happened. When they heard the impact, they looked round thinking there

must have been a collision but then saw me, Tony and Mike being thrown into the air.

They all came running back to help us.  I kept asking her if I was safe and that no other

cars could hit us, and she reassured me that I was.

 Denise the Landlady had also been alerted by the noise of the car hitting us. She

described it as "An almighty bang", and she saw the aftermath when she looked out

from the upstairs window of the pub. She came dashing out to us, and was wanting to

know our address so she could go and get our family. She knew we lived only around the

corner, so someone told her and off she went.

 I suddenly realised that I hadn't seen or heard anything from Tony or Mike, and I was

trying to lift my head to look around for myself but I couldn't move. Sam reassured me

that Mike was OK and was sat up against a wall with somebody tending to him and that

he didn't seem too badly injured. Yet every time I asked where Tony was, I was just told

to stay still and that Tony is being looked after and was only a few feet away from

where I lay. A passing ambulance had stopped and they began taking care of Tony on

the road. I kept asking for him, but I was just told that he was being looked after, and

not to worry. I thought to myself that Tony must have been in a bad way, or else he

would have been there with me at my side.

As I lay still on the cold road, there were more blue lights flashing everywhere around

me. By then, most of my family were there.  Some had to stay at home because of the

younger children there. I saw my sister Michelle. She too would only tell me that Tony

was being taken care of, and with that his ambulance sped off with him in it.

 The paramedics came to my side and started talking to me, cutting my clothes and my

shoes off me as they did. They told me to try and relax because they was going to try

and straighten out my left. It was turned almost the wrong way round, and was very

swollen. It had suffered serious damage. I was told it looked almost flat. As they started

to straighten out my leg, I began to feel the pain. It became unbearable as they pulled

and turned it. When that was done, they placed it in an inflatable splint . I was feeling

so much pain. The paramedics said that, as soon as they could, they will give me

something for the pain. But next, they needed to straighten out my right arm, again,

placing it in a splint. The pain was excruciating. I had never felt pain like it before in

my life. Seconds later, I remember my body started to shake violently as I lie on the

road. I began to lose consciousness and I was sure that this time, I was going to die.

Moments later I awoke again, this time in an ambulance with the paramedics working

on me. I could hear the sirens of the ambulance wailing as we sped towards the

hospital. Although it was only a short distance to the hospital, I still can't recall most

of the journey.

 The next time I opened my eyes, there were several medical staff, doctors, nurses,

preparing me for a cat scan. I began to fade in and out of consciousness regularly at this

point. Unaware at the time, I was placed in the cubicle next to Tony in the A & E

department, divided only by a curtain. All my family were outside in the corridor

anxiously waiting for news. They told me they kept popping in to see me, but I can't

remember. Mike was allowed to join them after his check up. Thankfully Mike only

suffered bad bruising. Time, for me, seemed to stand still from then on. Whilst in that

cubicle, I opened my eyes and saw doctors and nurses around me, but again I felt as

though I was going to pass out once more. And just then, my body began to shake

violently again, just as it did when I was lying on the road, and just before I passed out

this time, I saw a doctor rush towards me with a syringe, and what I can only vaguely

remember, plunging it into my chest.. I told myself that these must be my final

moments, then darkness. What seemed like only minutes later, I opened my eyes and I

felt as if I was in a dream. Things seemed slowed down. I got the sensation that I was

upside down, with my head near the floor and my feet pointing towards the ceiling. I

turned my head slightly and saw a nurse walking by. She too seemed to be walking in

slow motion, and from my angle, I was looking down to the top of her head. I asked what

was happening and where am I, and asked them why things have changed, and without

seeing any nurses faces, I heard a voice say in a calm and reassuring way, that

everything was going to be alright and that I will be ok. No sooner had I heard the voice,

and I looked forward again, everything went black once again.

 It was a few hours later when I opened my eyes, and I realised I was in another part of

the hospital, and all around my bed was my family and friends. They were just

standing in silence as I glanced around at each of their faces, subconsciously still trying

to find Tony. Although it was so good to see them all, I still needed to ask where my

brother was. But no one answered. I looked towards my mothers face hoping she would

tell me. It was decided that Anthony, Tony's then teenage son, should tell me. But the

look on my mothers' face said it all. I knew it could be only be bad news. I just knew, and

I didn't want to hear what was about to be said, and I was hoping that I was still

dreaming, or maybe I would pass out again. Anthony choked back his tears to tell me

that Tony had suffered massive head injuries, and was technically dead when he hit

the road. He had been on a life support machine for a few hours, but the specialist had

told the family that  there was no signs of any brain activity, and that Tony was

pronounced brain dead. There was no hope of recovery, and he recommended that the

life support machine Tony had been wired up tom should be turned off. The decision

was given to Anthony to make, and after a family discussion, it was regrettably agreed,

and his life support machine was turned off. Those words were spinning around in my

head. I couldn't believe it or accept it, I thought I was having a horrible dream. Nothing

seemed real to me then. But it was true. My brother died in the early hours of Sunday

morning, 22nd January, 2006. He was just forty-two years old. I felt heartbroken that I

didn't get the chance to be at his side with the rest of my family and say goodbye to

him. Painkillers kept me mostly asleep, but each time I opened my eyes again, there

was always a new face sat with him, visiting me, and holding my hand.

The news of the 'accident' was shown in the local newspaper and on TV news. The driver

of the car who had caused so much mayhem and heartache, was a nineteen year old

youth. He was drunk. He was two and a half times over the legal drink-drive limit, and

he was travelling, in a 30mph zone, at 65mph when he hit us. If only he had been

driving at a much slower speed, then maybe Tony would have survived this horror.

Police said that the city's CCTV system, has spotted the drink-driver's car in the town

centre, and as it approached the spot of the 'accident', the car began to veer into the

left, towards the kerb, just as we were about to safely step onto it. He claimed he was

looking for a CD on the floor and didn't see us. His car ended up half on the road and

half on the pavement. If he had kept his car straight, he would have missed us

completely. It was disclosed that I suffered severe multiple injuries. Both the tibia and

fibula bones in my left leg were seriously damaged, shattering both bones. The knee

suffered badly as my leg twisted around and caused damage to the cartilage and

ligaments. I found out that my leg was so badly damaged, it was thought best to

amputate it completely. But I'm glad to say, they didn't. my left collar bone was

broken, my right arm twisted badly resulting in a bad break. My lungs suffered

abrasions with some bleeding. My left arm was cut badly as I went into the car's

windscreen, and peppered with glass as it shattered. I had to wait four days for the

swellings to go down a little before the surgeon could operate, my body was almost fully

covered in bruises. I went into surgery unsure of what was going to happen, and as I was

given the anaesthetic I slowly began to close my eyes.

The operation lasted a little over five hours. I remember being very disorientated and

while only being semi conscious, but then eventually I began to hear the nurses calling

my name trying to wake me. Then I remembered what had happened.

 Despite all the physical pain I was suffering, nothing hurt me more than losing my

brother Tony. I would have willingly given both my legs if it would have saved his life.

When I was fully aware of my condition, I looked at the contraption now fitted onto my

left leg. It was like something I had never seem before It can only be likened to a Mecano

set. It was called an Ilizarov Frame. It was two black metal rings around my leg, with

several pins going straight  through my leg and bone, and out of the other side, then

fastened to these large black rings. Then there were several thick bolts, screwed

through my leg, and secured into the bone and bolted to the black rings. It looked

horrendous, and blood was still seeping from the entry and exit sites. My right arm had

been placed in a sling to keep it still as I had had the two halves of the broken bone

nailed together.  I felt so helpless just lying there in my hospital bed, unable to do

anything for myself anymore. I had to be given bed baths, have nurses shave me. I

couldn't even have eat or drink without someone's help. Everything had to be done for

me as I lie helplessly in my hospital bed. It was only another week before it was decided

that another ring was to be added to the two already there. This new ring was secured

to the upper part of my leg, just above the knee. When my family and friends came to

visit, some found it a little too much to look at the Ilizarov frame fitted to my leg. It

made some feel quite woozy. My birthday followed nine. Everyone decided to make a

fuss for my birthday, even though my heart wasn't in it, and I missed Tony so much.

But I did try. When people turned up with cards for my birthday, they also had other

cards for me too. They would tell me as they handed me them, that there is a card for

your birthday, a card to say Get Well, and then there was a Sympathy card. The walls

around my bed space were beginning to fill up with all these cards  I was receiving, it

give me a warm feeling to know that so many friends, neighbours, and of course family,

cared so much. After all my visitors left, the nurses surprised me with a little birthday

cake, which I thought was really kind of them.

It wasn't many days later, that during the night while trying to sleep, I began having

really bad pains in my upper back, I felt really ill, and was sweating quite badly.

Because I was still being checked regularly by the nurses, one checked my temperature

after noticing how much I was sweating. She asked how I was feeling, so I told her about

the pains in my back. She said I didn't look well, and my temperature was up, so she

brought in another nurse to examine me. They tried to cool me down by opening the

window a little, and also by bringing me an electric fan into the room. They said they

would get the doctor to see me as soon as he arrived early in the morning to see how I

am. The doctor came and did some tests on me, and he came to the conclusion that I

may have developed a pulmonary embolisms in my lungs, which are blood clots. The

doctor ordered an emergency scan, and just a little while longer, I was wheeled away in

my bed to the cat scan room. They explained to me that I would be scanned in this

machine, while being injected while a solution to show up my lungs more clearly. The

whole thing only took around twenty minutes and I was wheeled back to my ward.

Later that day, the consultant came back to see me with the results. His diagnosis was

correct, and I had developed blood clots in my lungs. He told me it was a common

occurrence with most leg injuries and operations, but if left untreated, it can kill. I was

immediately placed on blood thinning tablets called Warfarin, but until they were

able to take effect, I would have to be given high liquid doses injected directly into my

stomach. These injections were quite painful, and often left bruises.

I was beginning to think that I was never going to be able to lead the normal life that I

was used to.

Finally, Tony's funeral arrangements were made after nineteen days waiting for the

coroner to release his body. The date was set for Friday 10th February, 2006, at

9.15am. But just when I thought I was going to be allowed to attend the funeral, my

consultant came and sat by my bed. He understood how much I was grieving for my

brother, and how much I needed to go to his funeral, but as he began talking to me, I

realised that it wasn't going to be something I wanted to hear. He had gone over all my

medical notes, and since I developed the blood clots, he was concerned about my health

if I left the hospital on this cold February morning. Considering my injuries, blood

clots, the cold outside, and my emotional state, he strongly advised against me going.

He told me that it could be very bad for my health, and he wanted me to stay in the

hospital where I could be monitored properly. I was heartbroken at the news. I really

didn't care about what might happened to me. I just needed to say goodbye to Tony. But

again, I was denied this chance for a second time. When I told the family, Mike and

Anthony came to see me, and I hurriedly wrote a note which I wanted to be read out to

the people in the chapel at Tony's funeral. It read: "I'm really heartbroken that I can't

be with all my family and friends on the occasion of my beloved brother Tony's funeral

today. I hope you will all be strong and support each other, as our family always do in

times of need. As I lay in my hospital bed at this very moment, I am in prayer with you

all. As I say goodbye to my dearest younger brother Tony, I remember with great

fondness all the good and happy times we had as brothers and as friends, and I shall

cherish those memories for eternity. God bless you my brother. Love Steve."

On the morning of the funeral, a nurse came towards me and pulled the curtain

around my bed. She told me that at this sad time, I would be left in private for the

duration of Tony's funeral, but said that if there was anything I needed, or wanted

someone to be with me, all I had to do was press the call buzzer, and then she left. When

the time approached 9.15am, I closed my eyes as I laid in that hospital bed, and drifted

away with my thoughts. I imagined that I was at home, with my family. We were all

comforting each other. The house was full of family and friends. Then at 9.15, I saw in

my mind in real time, the family walking from the house towards the waiting cars. The

line of black limos with the hearse at the front bearing Tony's coffin, were waiting with

the doors open for us all to enter. As the procession began, I imagined in my mind

slowly driving along the road with my grieving family. My eyes opened as the curtain

surrounding my hospital bed gently opened. It was the ward housekeeper Jeanette. She

asked how I was feeling, and as she saw my tears, she came towards my bed and sat

beside me. She took hold of my hand as my tears started as I thought of the funeral

procession now entering the cemetery gates. Jeanette told me to just let it all out and

cry, and that she would stay with me for as long as I needed her to.  As the tears rolled

down my face, I saw in my mind the cortege pulling up outside the chapel inside the

cemetery. As everyone got out of the cars, and the many cars following behind with all

family and friends and neighbours in them, the bearers started to pull Tony's coffin

out of the hearse as everyone stood around. It was halfway through the service that my

note I had previously written, was read out. I was told that it was going to be read by

my brother-in-law Mike (he was in the accident with me and Tony). Mike began to find

it a hard to read it all and had to keep pausing to compose himself. It was then that my

brother John's wife Pat got up and went up to him and comforted him. She took the note

from Mike and continued reading it. It wasn't my intention to make anyone more upset

than they already were with my words, but if I had been able to have been there

myself, I would have done it myself, probably through tear filled eyes as well. My vision

was interrupted by Jeanette who squeezed my hand as my tears were still rolling down

my face, and she asked me if I was ok. I nodded my head and smiled at her. I continued

to visualise myself at Tony's funeral, as the cortege began it's journey to Tony's final

resting place in the cemetery. Although I didn't know where that was to be as yet, I

imagined it was a pretty spot, somewhere among the many thousands already laid to

rest. As I imagined them lowering his coffin into the ground, I kept saying goodbye to

him over and over in my head, just hoping he might just hear me, and forgive me for

not being able to be there with him, and my family and friends. I said the Lord's prayer

in my head as Jeanette wiped the tears from my face. She told me to let it all out as she

took hold of my hand again.

After about an hour, I thanked Jeanette for staying with me, even though we didn't

talk much, she still sat there holding my hand and drying my tears as the final hour of

Tony's 'being' on this earth was over. She kissed my forehead and said she would

keeping checking on me while she was on duty. She left the curtain closed and left.

Later that day my brother John came to see me. He told me how amazed they all were

at the number of people who attended Tony's funeral. He told me about the mass of

floral tributes there was, and so many sympathy cards around the house. I started to

cry again as he told me all about the day, all the while wishing I could have been there

too. I once heard, a long time ago, a saying which I believe now to be so true. It was "A

person is never more alive , than when that person has died."

 

I still found it so hard to believe that my younger brother was dead. I was still telling

myself that Tony was still safe at home in Grimsby with his daughter Poppy.

The day came when the physiotherapists came to my bed, the day that I knew was

coming and that I had been dreading. There was three of them, and they told me that

they were going to try and sit me up in my bed. I had been laid flat for over two weeks. I

knew it wasn't going to be easy. I was laid there with an Ilizarov frame on my left leg,

(an external fixator), my right arm was in a sling after having had an operation to

insert a rod from my shoulder to my elbow. My right collar bone was also in pain as

that was broken too. After a short time, the three physiotherapists came towards me

after formulating a plan. It still sound painful. They positioned themselves, one to the

left of my bed, one to the right of my bed, and the third near my head. They said, (with

a smile) one was going to hold my left side, one holding my right side, and the third was

going to hold my head and neck steady. The three physiotherapists gently and slowly

began to raise me up, inch by inch. I have to admit, even a slow movement like this was

really hurting me, but I knew I had to do it. They sat me up to almost the right

position, and then as a rush of blood filled my head, I felt as though the room was

spinning, and as a cold sweat broke out on my face, I thought I was going to faint. I told

the physiotherapists as I panicked, and the told me to take deep breaths and they held

their positions until I got used to being almost in the sitting position. Just after a short

time, I felt a little better so they continued to raise me until I was sitting up in the

normal position. They firmly held on to me as I was very weak, and had they let go, I

would have fell flat on my back again, in unimaginable pain!! There I was, sitting up

after all this time. I looked around the room, and saw all the cards around me wishing

me well. All the love in those cards made me want to get better again. I owed this to my

family. They had suffered so much. I wasn't going to add to their agony by not helping

myself get better. It was then I was in total shock when one of the physiotherapists told

me that now we were in this position, we was going to go a little further and get my legs

over the side of the bed. So the plan was now to swing me around to the right side of my

bed. The physiotherapist that was holding my head and neck, moved down to my feet,

as the other two physiotherapists held me firmly in place. Slowly they start to turn

me, gently to the right, and eventually my legs are over the edge of the bed. They tell

me that they are slowly going to lower my feet down to the ground. I am at their total

mercy. If one was to accidentally let go of me, then one can only imagine the pain I

would feel. Slowly, I felt my right foot touch the floor. As my left leg was encased in the

metal frame work with a covering under my foot, it was just my right foot that felt the

coolness of the hospital floor. It had been over two weeks since I had felt the floor with

my feet. Something as silly as that makes you realise how we take so much for granted.

And then when you can't do it for yourself, it makes you feel helpless, vulnerable, and

afraid. After what seemed like an eternity, they told me I was doing very well, when in

all seriousness, I wasn't actually doing anything, it was the three physiotherapists

manoeuvring me into positions that I couldn't do myself. The dizzy spells returned as

the blood circulated around my body and down to my legs, after a short time the

physiotherapists said that the final part was to sit me in the high chair beside my bed.

It was higher that a normal chair so that I wouldn't have to bend down too far to sit.

They asked me if I was ready, so I gave them a very nervous smile and said yes. So the

three of them firmly held me as I started to lift myself off the bed, all my weight going

through my 'good' leg, and as I eventually stood upright for the first time in what

seemed like months. I felt like I'd climbed mount Everest. I was so pleased with myself.

They carefully turned me around so I was backed up to the chair, and slowly, with the

physiotherapists help, I gently lowered myself down into the chair. I have never felt

such relief as when my backside touched that seat! I was so happy that I had achieved

that task. After a little chat, two of the physiotherapists smiled and left. The

remaining one was telling me how well I had done in getting into the chair as she found

a foot stool to place under my framed leg. She placed a couple of pillows on it, then

gently lowered my leg down on to it. It felt so comfortable. She left me safely in place,

and placed everything I would need in reach. She told me that she that they would be

back later to help me back in to bed. Because of the dizzy spells I'd been having she put

the oxygen mask on my face and told me to leave it on until I was feeling better. The

dizzy spells returned now and again, as did the cold sweats.

I sat there feeling pleased with myself for what had been achieved that day. Although

it is something almost everybody does every day, it isn't until something happens to

you that those simple tasks we all take for granted day after day become impossible to

do. But it was the start of my quest.. To get back onto my own two feet again.

It wasn't much longer before the visitors started to arrive. My brother John and his

wife Pat arrived and was very surprised to see me sitting in the chair. I felt proud too. I

sat chatting with John and Pat about my day in hospital and about things I had had

done to me. I always asked them what it was like outside. I wasn't able to see from

where I was, and especially laid down in bed. I longed to look out of the window and

watch the world go by. Unfortunately their visit was cut short because the three

physiotherapists returned to help me back into bed. So here we were, about to go

through everything I had already gone through to get into the chair, was about to

happen again, only this time in reverse. I shouldn't have worried too much because it

was slightly better this time round. In no time I was back in my bed. All the dizziness

and cold sweats had now gone. As they made me comfortable one of them told me that

they would be back at the same time the next day to do it all over again. That was

something I wished they hadn't told me! It weighed heavy on my mind for hours. It was

like they had asked me to climb the hospital walls outside.

I laid on my bed thinking again about the accident. It was the only thing there was to

do. I kept going over it in my mind, thinking if there was anything I could have done to

have prevented it from happening in the first place. It didn't take much for the tears to

start rolling down my face again. I'd only have to look at the photo by my bed of me and

Tony and I would cry. The next day, the police liaison officer paid me a visit. He was

asking how I was getting on. He told me that I was looking much better than I was on

the night he saw me of the accident. He said that I was in a terrible state and that the

doctors feared I would have to have my leg amputated.

The next day saw two more police men at my bedside. They were investigating the

accident. They spoke about the night of the accident, and they feared that I wasn't

going to pull through. They asked me if there was anything I could remember about

that night, and of course I could remember everything. They wrote down what I told

them and they told me that the drink-driver was arrested at the scene under suspicion

of drink-driving, but he was released on police bail the next day. That angered me very

much. The physiotherapy sessions continued in the days ahead, sitting up and getting

into the chair beside my bed. Then I was told that they were going to help me take my

first steps. The mere thought of it terrified me. I thought it was going to be an

impossible task. I didn't think I was ever going to be able to walk again. They reassured

 me that I was capable of doing it, and that I was to trust them.

The next day two physiotherapists came to my bed with a smile. They were impressed

that I was now able to sit up and ease myself to the edge of my bed with my feet on the

ground. One of them put my slippers on for me and asked if I was ready. I wasn't, but I

knew I had to try. They both stood at either side of me and gently helped me up into the

standing position. One of them placed an elbow crutch into my left hand. She told me

that I had to put my bad leg forward first and to place just a little pressure on to it so I

could move my good leg in front of it. It sounded simple enough, so as they took hold of

me from each side holding my arms, I took a big breath and told myself that this was

going to be the biggest step I was ever going to take. They told me that as soon as I was

ready to start, they would be there to stop me from falling. I kept telling myself, 'I can

do this! I CAN do this!' I looked down at my feet, and the metal frame screwed into my

left leg, and slowly I lifted my foot off the floor and moved it forward. I was told to place

a little pressure down onto it so I could take the next step with my good leg. I gently put

my bad leg down so my foot was on the floor and slowly I placed a little pressure down

onto it ready to move on. As I looked down at my feet, I did it. But the pain was so bad

even with a little pressure, I felt a cold sweat covering my face, but I had done it. I had

made my first step. Then slowly I made my second step, then another, and another. I

had only made it to the end of my bed, but it felt like I had walked a mile. The pain shot

through my body, and the dizzy spells were making me unsteady. The physiotherapists

said that that was enough for today, and that I now have to turn around and walk back

to the chair beside my bed. With their help, I turned around and looked at my chair. It

was only a few feet away. Each slow step I took made the pain worse. The dizzy spells got

much worse. As I was nearing the chair, the pain was so bad that I passed out. When I

came to, I was sat in my chair with an oxygen mask on my face and a nurse taking by

blood pressure. I felt really ill. I remember thinking to myself that I can't do this. I

can't see me ever walking again. The physiotherapists told me I had made the first

steps, and that they were the most important steps I had made, and what happened to

me was quite normal to pass out. I still felt awful. I was so upset with myself and I

really didn't want to carry on like this. They kept reassuring me that it would get

better. I laid down again on my hospital bed, pillows under the frame work on my leg,

and the TV by my side, although I wasn't interested in watching anything. The nurse

made sure all my vital signs was alright before she handed me my buzzer and told me

to call if I needed anything. I was exhausted and it wasn't long before I fell asleep again.

It didn't seem that long before a nurse woke me for me to take my medication, and the

 blood thinning injection into my stomach for the blood clots. I felt so low that day. I

spent the afternoon sleeping until my visitors came. They didn't want to wake me so

they just sat at each side of my bed. I eventually did wake, and I told them that they

should have woken me up, but they wanted me to rest. I told them about what had

happened that day and how I had fainted, and how silly I felt. They told me that I had

done really well after asking the nurse how I had been.

I had visitors everyday both at afternoon and evening sessions. All the family came

regularly, and friends came occasionally, but John and Pat came every day, mostly

because Pat work at the hospital as a ward housekeeper on the ward above the one I was

in. Gradually over the following days, the walking lessons became slightly easier, and I

didn't faint every time I stood up. Each time was a few steps further. My personal aim

was to make it to the windows to look outside. When my arm was a little more stable,

the physiotherapist removed the sling from my arm and handed me a specially

adapted elbow crutch. I still couldn't put a lot of pressure onto my injured left leg, as

equally I couldn't put a lot of pressure onto my right arm using the crutch.

Today was the day I was going to walk without the physiotherapist holding onto me. As

I stood there, the crutches in place, the physiotherapist standing behind me, I looked

down to my feet, and looked to the window. I wanted to look out of that window and see

the world again. Slowly I moved my feet. I had started to do it. Although it was only at a

snails pace, it felt great that I had made these steps. Gradually, my feet were moving.

It seemed to take forever. Step by step, the windows were getting closer. I was smiling

like a happy baby as I eventually stood at the window looking out to the world below. At

nine floors up, it was a beautiful view, to me at least. The physiotherapist praised me. I

said I wanted to look out of the window for a little while longer, and she happily agreed,

and of course, I needed to rest for a few minutes before the walk back to my bed.

Eventually she asked me if I was ready, and after a final view of the streets below, I said

yes. I turned around and she went to stand behind me just in case I lost my balance.

The pain was starting to become too much and I knew I had to make it back. It was the

longest time I had been on my feet since before the accident. Step by step I neared my

bed and as I turned around to sit down on my chair, the other patients clapped and

cheered me from their beds for achieving my first main walking session on my own. It

filled my eyes with tears as I thanked them. That was the medicine I needed. It was the

first time I had felt positive. But still, after any activities I always found myself feeling

really tired and in no time I fell asleep. I was always awoken by the nurses for

medication or visiting times. At last, I started to believe that there might be a chance I

could walk again after all, and that I could finally see the light at the end of that long

dark tunnel. There was hope after all.

Soon, everyday I would try to get myself onto the side of my bed and slowly and

carefully sit myself into the chair by my bed. Although I was still in a lot of pain, and I

could only move slowly, it was a start. Gradually, with the help of the physiotherapists

over the following weeks, there was talk of me possibly going home. My joy was mixed

with some fear. I knew I still had to rely on everybody for everyday things, like eating,

drinking, washing, dressing, toilet, everyday things that most people take for granted.

I only had the use of one arm, and one leg. Some days were still harder than others for

sitting up in bed on my own from lying down. I was told an occupational therapist

would have to visit my home to see if any changes would have to be made before I was

allowed to go home. A commode and a wheelchair was to be sent to my house for me in

the next day or two.

Finally, the day had arrived when I could go home. Although I hadn't been fully

discharged from the hospital, it was felt I could carry on with my recovery at home. A

district nurse would be regularly sent to visit me for the cleaning of the pin sites on the

frame going into my leg. After five weeks in hospital I was going home. Two paramedics

arrived on the ward with a stretcher for me. After gently helping me on to it, they

covered me up with blankets because of the cold weather outside. I hadn't felt the wind

or the sun on my face in all the five weeks I was in hospital. When I was secured on the

stretcher, all my belongings were placed by my feet. As I was wheeled through the

ward, the other patients were saying goodbye to me and wishing me well for the future.

A nurse came up to me and handed me all the medication I needed for the pain and the

blood clots in my lungs. It was almost a carrier bag full. As we were going down in the

lift, I couldn't wait to be outside. When the doors opened, I felt the cold gust of wind on

my face and it felt great. It was a cold February afternoon, but I didn't mind. I breathed

in the cool fresh outdoor air. My journey home had begun.

 

My stretcher was high enough for me to look out of the ambulance window, and

although it had only been five weeks since I was outside, everything looked different on

the route home. The final stretch of our journey saw us travelling along the road where

the accident happened. As we neared the Station pub where the car hit us, I began to

feel sick the nearer we got. I just had to close my eyes when we came to the spot it

happened at until we turned the corner into the street where I lived. I was wheeled

down the close to where I lived with my parents, and the nearer we got, I noticed there

was balloons and welcome banners outside the house. As we were going down our

garden path, the door opened and there was my mam and dad to greet me. My mother

was crying as she watched me getting nearer on the stretcher. Once the paramedics had

managed to get me, and the stretcher inside, the wheelchair was waiting for me and

they helped me off the stretcher and into the wheelchair. The paramedics chatted and

joked with us all, and wished us well for the future, and they left. I was home! It felt so

good. After a catch up and talk, I was helped into the back room which now had a bed in

it. This was my new bedroom for the foreseeable future. Everything I needed was in

there. Now I was home, I was never short of visitors. Family was there whenever they

could be. Everybody was so kind and they were always wanting to do things for me, and

help me in any way they could. I still wished I could have done things for myself, but I

was so thankful for a loving caring family, and an army of friends for taking care of me

too. It wasn't long before I received instructions from the hospital to start attending

regular physiotherapy sessions as an out-patient.  The first thing I wanted to do when I

was able, was go to the cemetery to visit Tony's resting place. I knew beyond any doubt

that it was going to be painful for me. This was to be the first time I was to see proof

with my own eyes that Tony was really dead, and not still safely living in Grimsby. But

I had to do this. The rest of the family had unfailingly visited Tony's grave every

Sunday, and leaving him flowers. So the next Sunday I was wrapped up well to shield

me from the cold, my brother John, and sister-in-law Pat came round and took me.

John pushed me in my wheelchair all the way there without complaining once. We

stopped to buy flowers on the way, and I held them close to my chest all the way there. I

could feel the tension building up inside of me as we went through the cemetery gates. I

wasn't sure if I wanted to go any further, because I knew that any time now, I would

have to accept that Tony was gone forever. I glanced at all the headstones as we passed

them, going further into the cemetery. I was still trying to see Tony's grave in my

mind. We didn't talk much as we carried on along the path, until eventually we

stopped. John turned my wheelchair around and I looked at a grave. He looked at me

and told me this is where Tony is. I couldn't talk, I just stared at his grave as the night

of the accident played over and over in my mind. It felt like I was in a nightmare. As

John arranged and placed the flowers we brought onto Tonys' grave, the tears just

streamed down my face. It was finally then, that I knew my little brother was dead,

lying in the ground in front of me. I looked at the name plate on the temporary cross as

it read Tony's name. John came up to me and put his arm around me to comfort me. I

couldn't help but let it all out as I sat there at my brother's grave in my wheelchair. I

could have sat there all day just looking at his grave, but the cold was beginning to get

to me, and it didn't take much to make me feel unwell.  John made sure the covers were

wrapped around me securely again, and after saying our goodbyes to Tony, we set off on

our journey home. The vision of Tony's grave was etched in my mind for the rest of the

day, and the accident was just playing constantly in my head. Each time I would ask

myself, 'why?' 'Why didn't I look just once more for traffic?' And then came all the

'What if's?' or 'If only's?'  would start creeping into my mind. 'If only we had gone home

earlier.' If only we hadn't had that last drink.' This is what most of my thoughts were

about, but then I was always reminded by everyone that it wasn't me, Mike or Tony

that had done anything wrong. We wasn't to blame in any way. The only person to

blame for this was the nineteen year old drink-driver who was two and a half times

over the legal limit, and travelling at 65mph. He was the one who chose to get into his

car knowing he was drunk. We were the innocent victims.

And so the physiotherapy sessions had started, usually twice a week. I was collected and

taken back home by stretcher by the NHS patient transport service. My first

appointment at the centre was nerve wracking. I knew they were going to see what my

limits were to start with, and as I was wheeled in I looked around nervously at the

other patients being put through their paces by the therapists. In a few minutes, a

physiotherapist came up to me and she told me that this first session was only to get to

know me, and find out how my injuries had affected my mobility. So it was only about

30 minutes I was there. I was made another appointment for a couple of days later. I

realised that there was no need to have worried, because as in every other department

or ward that I had been to, the staff were, as always, very understanding, and caring.

After all, they all had the same goal in mind.. To make me better.

The police were also understanding and caring. I genuinely felt that they were doing

all they could to make sure that the drink-driver who had caused so much devastation

in our lives, was made to pay for his crime. They were passionate in securing a lengthy

conviction. The police visited me at my home a little while later, and asked me if I was

willing to make a video statement for the court hearing. I said I was, and the next

evening they came back with all their video recording equipment. As one was setting

up the camera, the police woman was telling me what was going to happen. They were

going to record me giving an account of the accident from the beginning. I was really

nervous, but I had to do it. The police man was taking test shots, of my face, my arm,

and the frame on my leg. My parents were sitting in the front room, mainly because I

didn't really want them to hear all the details as I knew it was too upsetting for them.

It was going to be bad enough for me, and I wasn't sure if I could do it. The police man

said that if I was ready then we could begin. The police woman told me that, before we

started that if at any time I wanted to stop, or needed a break, then all I had to do was

say so. She said that it was me who was in control of the interview. I knew they wanted

to know all I could tell them. I knew they wanted to put the drink-driver behind bars

for as long as they could. And I wanted that too. So we began. She asked to start from

the point we were stood at the road side. It was easy to remember. It was all that I could

think about. I started to tell her about that night, how I looked for traffic as we started

to cross the road, and that all I could see was one car's headlights in the distance. I

recalled how after we were more than halfway across the road, the car was still heading

our way, still a safe distance away. And then as we were a couple of steps away from the

kerb, it hit us. I had to stop at that point because as I remembered, I choked up and

tears started to fill my eyes. I just sat there in silence looking down. The police woman

told me it was ok, and if I needed to stop, then all I had to do was say so. I dried my eyes

as I told her I wanted to carry on. She asked me to tell her about our family past, and

how me and Tony got along as brothers. I told her that our family is very close. If one

hurts, we all hurt. If one of us is pain, we are all in pain. As I was the second oldest

among my siblings, (John being the oldest), Tony was only 4 years younger than me, so

we had a lot in common, we were 'drinking  partners', car lovers. I broke down several

times as I recalled our past, and what my family means to me, and how this was going

to be the hardest thing we were ever going to go through. I certainly didn't know how we

were going to do it. We all shed tears often. There was no controlling it. After around an

hour, we were finally finished. The police woman told me I had been very helpful, and

realised how difficult it must have been for me to do this. I'm almost certain that as I

was telling them, the police woman's eyes filled up. They both thanked me for being so

cooperative. As my mother made us all a cup of tea, the police woman told me that the

video evidence I had given would only be used in court if for some reason I was taken ill,

or I had any hospital appointments which meant I couldn't go in person. They thanked

me once more as they gathered all their equipment, and said goodbye as my dad

showed them the way out. After a short chat with my parents, they told me to call them

if there was anything I needed. They were always ready to help in anyway they could.

As I lay back on my bed, the accident was playing in my head again. It was so hard not

to think about it. And always I was trying to see if there was any way I could have

stopped it happening. It was like watching a video in a constant loop.

As I became a little more able to get off my bed, and with the help of my crutches, with

my parents and my uncle Colin, who only lived a few doors away with my auntie Elsie,

helped me walk towards the front door so I could see the garden and take in some fresh

air. I wasn't able to lift my left leg more than a couple of inches, so getting over the step

was very difficult. I stood in the doorway admiring the view, but I was determined to

try and get over the 2 inch step to get onto the outside step. I just couldn't lift my leg

high enough, so I thought I could maybe gently jump over it. With three people with me

I thought it would be alright to try. With their help, I managed to make it onto the

outside step, but to get onto the garden path, I had to make it down a four inch step. As I

put my good leg down onto the path, I thought I could then swing down my framed leg to

be stood on the path. But as I did, I lost my balance and I fell all the way down to the

concrete path, down onto my right arm, which had the rod inside holding my broken

arm together. No one was able to reach out in time and grab me to stop me falling. The

pain was immense as I lay there on the path. I felt like I was going to pass out. They

rushed to help me, I tried to let on that I was alright, but my mother was crying, as

they tried to get me up again. It took a few minutes because there wasn't many places of

my body that didn't hurt. Eventually I was stood up again. They all helped me back to

my bed again. As I laid back onto my pillow, I felt very dizzy and thought I was going to

faint again. My right hand started to swell, and my little finger was really swollen, and

I couldn't move it. I feared I had broken it. Because I was feeling unwell my mother

called my G.P. he came the next day. He thoroughly examined me, especially my

already damaged parts.  A bruise had developed on my broken arm, and he was certain

I had broken my little finger, so he organised an ambulance to come and take me to

hospital for x-rays, just to make sure I hadn't damaged my arm even further, or

dislodged and pins or bolts holding the framework in my leg.

After a few hours at the hospital, I was reassured that everything was alright, and yes,

I had broken my little finger. But after everything that had already happen to me, a

broken finger seemed insignificant. But it still hurt like hell! The nurse strapped my

fingers together to hold them in place until it healed.

My physiotherapy sessions continued every week. Little by little I was making some

progress. Maybe an extra centimetre bend on my knee. Then there were days that

wasn't so good. Still, I had to persevere with the sessions. I had to keep trying.

My arm was very slow responding to treatment, if any at all. They suspected that

maybe the fall that I had may have something to do with it. It was about 2 weeks later

that my arm became very painful to move. Each time that I tried, there was an audible

cracking sound which was very uncomfortable. So the physiotherapist said that she

wasn't going to make me do anything that day. Instead she called for a porter to come

and bring a wheelchair and take me straight to the x-ray department. I had to wait in

the queue, but after I had the x-rays, I was called in to my specialist's office. Mr.

Sharma was already viewing my x-rays. He greeted me, as always, with a hand shake.

He told me that one of the screws holding the rod into my bone seemed to have become

loose. He was amazed that it could have loosened, as once they were firmly in place,

they couldn't move again. I was informed that I would have to undergo another

operation. It wasn't long after that the letter came that I had to go into hospital. Mr.

Sharma removed the rod from inside my arm and replaced it with a plate. The

operation was a success and after a few days, I was back home again. It did feel less

painful so it did the trick. For the time being.

My physiotherapy session began once again, and the monthly check-ups with Mr.

Sharma, and the x-rays. He told me that he couldn't understand why my arm was so

slow in making any progress. He said it was very unusual.

Even though my injuries had been very severe, he said there should be signs by now

that things were on the mend.  He told me he would see me again in another month and

check up on me then. In the meantime, the police carried on with their investigations.

They would occasionally call me and tell me of their progress. They were being very

thorough in their investigations, because they wanted to be able to present all the

evidence at the court hearing. They wanted a death by dangerous driving conviction.

They told me they were looking through their C.C.T.V footage to pinpoint the route the

drink-driver took on that night. With this footage they were hoping they could work

out the speed of the car as it headed towards us. I had many sleepless nights. I'd often

cry as I laid in my bed. The accident was forever playing in my mind. I tried to be brave

for my family. I knew how much they were already hurting. I didn't want to add to that

with my own problems. There was no way I wanted them to be worrying over me

constantly. I felt I was always a reminder of that night, how they could see my injuries

and my inability to help myself much, and think of it all again and again. And how

close I too came to losing my life.

Finally a date for the hearing was announced. We were told it would be a Hull Crown

Court on August 18th, 2006. The drink-driver's solicitor had been trying to reduce the

charge against him to 'Undue Care & Attention.' Thankfully the Crown Prosecution

Service insisted that the original charge of 'Death By Dangerous Driving' remained. It

was my first glimpse of the drink-driver that had destroyed our lives, and put me in a

wheelchair. The police were with me and my family as we waited to be called into court.

The drink-driver was just yards away from us as we waited in the foyer. He had some

family members with him and some of his friends. All were in high spirits, laughing

and joking with each other. It made me feel sick.

When we were called in to the court room, the drink-driver's party were ushered to the

back of the court room, whilst we were near the front. The police stood beside us

throughout. His solicitor spoke to the judge and told of his client's previously good

form, and how he was a good hard worker, and had never been in trouble with the law

before. He suggested to the judge a lenient sentence should be considered. He also told

of his client's deteriorated health and how he had been treated for depression by his

G.P.  We were infuriated. All the talking in the courtroom was about the drink-driver,

and about how he had made a serious mistake that night by driving whilst drunk. He

took up most of the hearing talking about him. There was hardly any talk of my

brother Tony, and what this drink-driver had done to me, Mike, and our family. The

accused stood in the dock and shed a few self pitying tears as the sentence was read out

to him. He cried not for his crime, but for the loss of his freedom. He claimed he did not

see us because he was looking down for a CD. His car veered to the left, and hit us as we

were about to step onto the pavement. The car ended half on the pavement and half on

the road. He was charged with Death By Dangerous Driving, and sentenced to three and

a half years in prison. He was also banned from driving for 8 years, after which he

would have to take an advanced driving test before he would be allowed to drive on our

roads again. So after a three and a half jail term, that would only leave four and a half

years driving ban, because the driving ban started on the day of the sentencing. The

police had worked so hard on this case, but yet we were let down by the sentencing. The

maximum jail term that can be handed down for Death By Dangerous Driving is 14

years. Nowhere near what his sentence should have been. Each offence he committed

should have been read and charged individually. 1, he was two and a half times over

the legal drink-drive limit. 2, he was travelling at 65mph in a 30mph zone when he hit

us. And 3, there should have been the Death By Dangerous Driving charge. Not to

mention the injuries received by me and Mike. How many innocent people have to die

for such a 14 year sentence to be implemented?  What carnage? The message that

drinking and driving is wrong and will not be tolerated, will never be sent out to these

people if they are only going to be given a slap on the wrist, and a piece of paper taken

away from them that states that they are 'qualified' driver. That type of person won't

even care if they are banned from driving if they are prepared to get drunk and risk

taking the lives of innocent people. The judge added that the sentence which he handed

down, in no way reflected the value of Tony's life, which, he said, was incalculable. But

there isn't a jail sentence long enough to compensate for the life of a person. His family

will still have him after his sentence is over. They can carry on with their lives, have

birthdays, Christmas's. Tony is never coming home to us ever again. We can't share

birthdays and Christmas's. We have to travel to the cemetery to see Tony, and lay

flowers and cards on his grave. The pain of this will live with us forever.

Thirteen months have now passed, and after many procedures, and bone grafts, Mr.

Sharma gave me the good news that the Ilizarov frame could be removed from my left

leg. He told me that he could remove it within the next hour if I was prepared for it. All

I could be given was air and gas to sedate me slightly, and the fame could be removed in

about fifteen minutes. I really didn't want to be awake when he removed it, but he told

me it would be a few weeks waiting for a bed in hospital to have it removed under

general anaesthetic. On the one hand, I wanted it taken off there and then, but the

thought of the pain it might cause terrified me, yet I didn't want to wait any longer.

After some time, I decided to go ahead with it and asked Mr. Sharma to take it off now.

The nurse set up the air and gas, and I nervously began inhaling the mixture. After

only a few minutes I was feeling very light-headed. Then I heard the trolley coming my

way, the tools rattling on the metal shelf. I frantically started inhaling the air and gas

mixture as Mr. Sharma told me to relax, and not to worry. He sat by the frame on my

left leg, as a nurse stood by to ready to wipe up the blood. He reminded me about

everything I have had to go through to get to this point here and now. Mr. Sharma

asked if I was ready. I nervously nodded my head, really wanting to say no. He began by

undoing the nuts and bolts holding the ringed frame together. Eventually all that

remained was the pins and the bolts screwed into and through my bones. I wasn't

prepared for the pain that followed. No one can tell you how it is going to feel. This is

something you have to go through alone. The pins that went into my skin, through the

bone, and out of the other side were pulled quickly out. The burning pain was really

bad. I moaned out in agony as everybody kept telling me I was doing well. The nurse

wiped the blood as the pins came out of my leg. After the pins were all taken out, Mr.

Sharma told me he was going to unscrew the bolts that were embedded into my leg

bone. Each turn of the bolt was like a sledgehammer to my leg. The pain was so

unbearable. I moaned out so loudly, I was sure the whole hospital could hear me. He

was turning the bolts as quick as he could so it could soon be over, but each turn was as

bad as the last. I felt tears rolling down my face. I couldn't believe that I was crying.

Here I was, 47, and crying. I just wished it to be over. And eventually it was. He told me

I had done very well, at what though, I don't know? As he packed all the framework

away, the nurse began cleaning the blood away from the holes in my leg. The nurse

bandaged my leg up and told me it had to stay on until I came back the following week.

They sat me up, and it felt really strange not having that contraption on my leg

anymore. The nurse brought me a cup of coffee and I was told to rest a while. I was so

glad the frame had gone. About 30 minutes later Mr. Sharma returned and he asked

me to try and stand up. With their help, I rose to my feet. It felt so strange. I hardly

had the strength in it to stay up. But after a short time they helped me take a few

steps. It felt great. Most of the pain I had been feeling was because of the frame. I

managed to walk a few steps and Mr. Sharma said he was pleased with that. He made

the appointment for me to return the following week. And with a hand shake, he told

me to take care and would see me next week. The first thing I did when we got home,

was to put on some trousers. It had been over a year that I had to wear special bottoms

that fastened all the way down the side to accommodate the huge frame I was wearing

on my leg, or sometimes just shorts. Everybody was so pleased to see me in normal

clothes again. Although my knee was still in a lot of pain, it was much easier getting

around the house.

The following week I was back to see Mr. Sharma. He took off the bandaging from my

leg. I was amazed to see the holes where the pins and bolts were, had seemingly closed

up. He asked me to do a few steps while he watched. I was still unsteady on my legs but

he seemed pleased with my progress. I had to wait a while again until they could do

more x-rays on my leg and my arm. He said the leg is looking good, but my arm was still

not mending as it should. It needed more work, and a within a short time,

I was back in hospital for another operation. More bone grafts were needed for my arm,

so pieces were taken from my hips once again. And in a few weeks after having the

frame removed from my leg, I was told one now had to be fitted to my right arm. So, 15

months after the accident, I was to undergo yet another operation.

I was admitted back into Hull Royal Infirmary early one morning, and later that day I

went down to theatre to have the frame put on my arm.  I was still a little under the

influence of the anaesthetic that evening, and after my visitors had gone, I kept

nodding off and waking up again. Later that night as I looked at the TV, and not really

watching what was on, I felt really down in the dumps. Again, in my mind, I was

remembering the night of the accident, and how Tony had died. I stared at the TV

screen as a tear rolled down my face, and I felt the distinct feel of someone touching my

injured arm, as if it was being stroked by a finger, up and down. But as soon as I turned

to look, the feeling stopped. I felt as though my brother had been there just then, gently

stoking my arm, and telling that everything was going to be alright. I felt a reassuring

calmness, and as I cried and smiled at the same time, I slowly drifted off to sleep.

Every month I was to carry on attending my physiotherapy sessions, and monthly

check-ups and x-rays with Mr. Sharma. Things started to look a little better each time I

went, and after 8 months he said the frame could be removed from my arm. It was

Christmas week, 2007, that I was admitted to Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham near

Hull. This time I insisted that I was to be put to sleep when this frame was taken off my

arm, after remembering the agonising pain I went through to have to frame from my

leg removed some 10 months earlier. So finally, after almost 2 years, the operations

seemed to be at an end, and I could finally start to look ahead, now with yet even more

scars added to my already marked body. The last count was a staggering 34 scars on my

body, mostly caused by the operations I had to have.

After almost two and a half years of going in to hospital for various procedures and

operations (approximately nine by then), my last visit to Mr. Sharma was to find out

why my left leg was still in some pain, and the inability to bend my leg more that half

way, showed that because of the severity of the injuries sustained to my leg, the knee

had suffered badly too. The ligaments and tendons in the knee was not going to repair

itself, and as a result, osteoarthritis had possibly set in.

Later in 2008, Mr. Sharma organised another M.R.I. scan on my knee. Although there

was nothing sinister revealed, he did confirm his fears. The arthritis was now the main

cause of pain in my knee, which he said was an unfortunate result of the damage it

received in the accident. He said I would be placed on a list to have a three weekly

interval of injections in to the knee, which should, for a time at least, relieve me of

excess pain. The injections were administered several weeks later. I found them very

very uncomfortable, and after the first one, I felt quite unwell for the rest of that day,

although there was no known side effects to these injections.

I saw Mr. Sharma a few weeks after the course of injections, and I told him that I really

couldn't feel any benefits for having them as yet, but he told me they would take

around six weeks to make any impact. He told me that after all the things I have been

through, and the operations, and procedures, he thought that the twice weekly

physiotherapy sessions I had been having for two and a half years could no longer

improve the mobility of my arm or leg, and that we had reached a plateau, meaning

there would be no more improvement, and suggested that the sessions now stop. What I

was left with, was in fact all that I was left with. Mr. Sharma said that he would next

see me an around 12 months time. Although I was basically only half the man I used to

be, it was still better than nothing, and with the help of my family,  I could at least now

try to look to the future again.

For many people, January 22nd, 2006, will now be but a fading memory. But for me

and my family, it will never be forgotten. We have to live with the consequences of that

night every single day of our lives. Each of us have our own terrible memories of that

night, as do our closest friends, and every day, week, and year, those memories will

stay with us.

I now cannot walk very far before the pain in my leg, and knee becomes too much to

endure. I have to walk with elbow crutches. Gone were the days of just running up the

stairs, running to the shop, or maybe a walk into town to do some shopping. After

mostly walking everywhere before the accident, it is something now I can only

reminisce about. I now totally rely on the car to get me about, if I can park close by to

where I want to be at. If I can't, then the wheelchair comes out of the boot, and I have to

be wheeled around the shops. I feel that old age has been forced upon me before my

time. I am now partially disabled, and am having to live off state benefits instead of

being able to get out there and earn my money, as I had done all my working life. If it

wasn't for the car, I probably wouldn't be able to leave the house whenever I wanted to.

I also have an aching in the bottom of my back which is a sign of the way I am walking.

When the weather is now cold, wet, and windy, the pain becomes too much in my knee,

and all I can do is take extra painkillers and rest on my bed. I take a lot of pills for

different ailments, it's a normal part of my life now. As the months continued, the

muscle mass in my arm and leg continued to deteriorate, more so from my arm,

resulting in weakness, and the inability to hold anything heavy, or use for normal

everyday activities.

Flashbacks happen to me all the time, any time of the day and night. Just glancing at a

picture of Tony, a particular song, even watching something on TV. The local

newspaper began contacting me for quotes, or my opinions on drink driving articles.

Then it all started. I was on TV news programs, in our local newspaper. everybody

wanted to hear what I had to say, and it felt great. I now had something to do. I also

appeared on a local radio station during BRAKE's annual Road Safety Week in

November. Things started to change in my area. Road safety issues were tackled. New

brighter street lighting replaced the dull amber ones. Cut outs in the pavements

meant cars could be parked safely and not be on the main road. Speed warning signs

were erected in several parts of my road which flashed a reminder of the speed this

road is, and not the speed you are driving at.

My health problems can only continue to deteriorate as I grow older, and I know I will

never get better again, I just have to make do and carry on as best as I can.

A few weeks later was the launch of BRAKE'S national road safety week, and they called

me to be their local spokesman in Hull. Both the local BBC Look North, and ITV's

Calendar contacted me and came on different days to do a piece on me, about the

drink-drive dangers. Most of both of the clips were filmed at Northern Cemetery in

Hull at Tony's graveside.  That same month, BRAKE had forwarded my details to a

lecturer at the University of Oxford. The website was being set up for, and about,

people who have lost loved ones in a sudden way. I agreed to take part, because the site

was to help others come to terms with their losses, and to give help and advise. The site

is to be up and running by Autumn 2009, and is run in conjunction with the

Department of Primary Health Care.

It was inevitable that I should slowly fall into a depression. I started not to care much

about doing anything, and I always felt sad, and some days I didn't even want to get out

of bed, or get dressed or shaved. All I was thinking about was Tony. Night times, the

accident would play in my head, over and over, and I tried to see if there was any way I

could have prevented it from happening. I began to have regular palpitation attacks,

dizziness, sometimes to the point of almost passing out. I was at the point of tears most

times of the day. My GP prescribed anti-depressants called Citalopram in 20mg doses.

He gave me a four week course to begin with, after which I had to return for a check up.

When I returned, we had a chat, and he said that after all that I had been through, and

suffered, it seemed it had all taken it's toll. He said some people feel the depression

maybe days, weeks, or even years later. It was agreed that I would be placed on the

anti-depressants for a further six months.

My hospital appointments became fewer and further between. But at the start of 2010

my arm started to begin to tingle more, and feel warm and uncomfortable much more

frequently than before. A scan showed that part of my upper spine had swollen slightly

trapping nerves running into my arm, causing the discomfort. I was placed on more

stronger painkiller. Then a little while longer, the pains started to hurt my neck, and

on the top of my head. The same swelling on my spine had now trapped more nerves

causing these new pains. I was told this condition is called Spondylosis Another type of

painkiller was also given to me to combat this new pain. But gradually during 2010, I

began to feel unwell, and I couldn't quite work out why. After another visit to my GP

and some blood tests, it was discovered I now had developed Type 2 Diabetes. It came as

a massive blow, and it deeply concerned me. There are so many complications that go

with having diabetes such as, blindness, kidney failure, heart failure, gangrene. I felt

that I couldn't cope with yet another ailment. It brought me down for a while. I

attended classes through the NHS for how to deal with the disease, with help and tips to

healthier eating. I was place on Metformin for the diabetes, although I was told that

eventually over time, the body will no longer respond to the medication in tablet form,

and I will one day have to start using insulin.

I was alarmed at the ever increasing breaking of my toes. Because of the instability in

my leg, I stumbled often, and usually ending up with me catching my feet on sometime

close by. In the period of about 12 months, I broke 6 toes in total. My doctor booked me

in for a bone density scan. It took place in the summer of 2011. It was quite a painless

scan, no difference much to having an x-ray. Well, a few weeks later the results were

sent to my doctor. It was disclosed that my bones were now thinner than the average

persons bones. My spine in particular was slight cause for concern, because the graph

showed that it was below average, and in the coming years could become a severe form

of arthritis. I was put on high calcium tablets. My blood pressure increased, as did my

cholesterol, so I was also prescribed tablets for that too. Eventually I was referred back

to the original orthopaedic surgeon, Mr. Sharma after more problems with my left leg,

more in particular my knee. He ordered more x-rays to the knee, and after examining

the x-rays, he booked my in for an MRI scan at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham near

Hull.

April, 2012:

The MRI scan revealed little change in my knee.. But signs of arthritis was clearly

visible and Mr. Sharma has booked me in at the Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham

near Hull for keyhole surgery to insert a camera to see the full extent of the damage to

ligaments and cartilage, and then to flush the inside out.  He told me that because of

my age at present, it was very unlikely I would receive a knee replacement for at least

another 10 years or so. So I expect I shall just have to carry on as I always have done,

walking with the aide of my elbow crutches, or in some days when the pain is too much

too bare, then my wheelchair will have to be used again. I still thank God for the life I

still have. But I will carry on, and I now love to help others who have lost loved ones too,

and my songs and music I have created go to help many people all over the world.

Since the accident, it is thought all my ailments and illnesses are as a direct result of

the car hitting my body, the physical and all the emotional problems. High Blood

Pressure, High Cholesterol, Spondylosis, Osteoarthritis, Type 2 Diabetes treated with

Insulin and tablets, Thinning Bones, Trapped Nerves. It all seems such a high price to

pay for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the hardest part of everything I

have been through was losing my brother Tony.

Drinking and driving isn't 'Just For Christmas' It's for life! Please… Don't drive and

drive. Image this story is YOUR story… How would you cope? Could you cope?

                                 

                                                        © 2012 Stephen Meara-Blount