Part 1 : A Life Changing Experience

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it….

What happened a few months ago (just over 4 months to be exact)  is a testimony of what you put out into the universe, is most likely to come your way if you are 100% open and willing for the change… But and a BIG BUT, you need to keep in mind that sometimes it won’t necessarily happen in the way you would hope or expect things to go down… like I quickly learnt.

I wished for a life changing experience… you know, in a fun, light hearted, lets travel the world & meet people kinda way…Well what I got, was the complete opposite… as horrific, brutal and agonising the full experience was, it changed my life for the better & reignited my soul… so even after everything I wouldn’t change it for one second….

The word lucky got used a lot, actually to this day people still use it when we chat about it… The moment it happened, doctors saying you are so lucky you are alive! You are lucky you can walk! You are lucky there is no spinal damage! You are lucky you can see and your vision is back! You are lucky that you have a support system in London! You are lucky to have healed as fast as you did…. You are lucky!

Well look if I was lucky, I would’ve crossed a road like a normal person and been ok but I wasn’t lucky in that department…

Although lucky got thrown around a lot, I am grateful, I am so flippen grateful to be able to walk, to be able to see, to be able to start taking baby steps doing the things I love such as yoga and to be able to live a life that is more meaningful and fulfilled, and to live a life knowing just how quick it can change or be taken away from you… We all think we have time and a whole lot of it but realistically we have no control over that…

After dealing with major PTSD since my return to South Africa and having the realities of the accident come to the surface, I thought writing about my experience might help me deal with what actually happened along with many other treatments, but its only one step in the healing process and I am wanting to heal & grow from all of this…

Friends and family have been scared to ask me about what actually happened or felt bad to bring it up, but to be honest with you all, its ok, the accident is a part of me and will be for the rest of my life and talking about it and sharing about my experience is something that helps me heal and who knows might share a new light on the path that you might be on… So for the people wanting to take a step into my world where I share the details of what exactly happened, this is where it all began…

So as my European Summer adventure was approaching, I was doing a lot of self exploring and kept saying how I want this trip to be a life changing experience. I wanted to get a whole new lease on life, to clear up my cloudy vision of what is important to me. To get a breath of fresh air and to hopefully have the universe put me on a whole new path because I was ready, ready for change and ready for a challenge.

The day finally arrives for me to leave South Africa for just short of 4 months, I have got everything I need in my backpack and I am ready for my new adventure of work and travels… I have it all planned out, London for a few days with my long last London family, Ibiza with a fellow Yacht Week veteran and then off to Yacht Week in Greece to head up an incredible event…

Little did I know that as I start this journey, the universe had something completely different planned for me and my fun, travel filled start of my holiday was going to be the complete opposite… Day 2 into my trip, yes… DAY 2!!!! Living my best life, walking the streets of London, catching up with friends and shopping up a storm (London Summer Sales NEED I SAY MORE) It was early evening, the sun was shining and the vibe in London was electric, for those who have lived there and experienced a London Summer will know when the sun is out , you have never seen happier people walk the streets… It was just after 6pm when I was on my way to have a much anticipated reunion with my old London work family from LNL …  I mean we only waited about 7 years to eventually lock one in, but it was happening and in the next 5 minutes we were going to be sipping on some vino along the Thames and catching up… In the next 5 minutes though, I was going to get knocked off my feet, literally and thrown into a very life threatening situation…

I was making my way out of Embankment station, safely crossing over the large intersection for vehicles and the last hurdle was just the bicycle lane aka Bicycle Highway. The last thing I remember is texting my work chat group, saying I’m around the corner… And then stepping into the road…

3 minutes later my work friends get a text from my phone…

Hello

Your friend has just been run over near Embankment Station

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I had been taken out or more so knocked the F out by a gentlemen riding his bicycle, not a motorbike, a general road bicycle… He literally destroyed me….I have no idea where he came from and what side he hit me, NOTHING! I just know he was cycling at a serious speed! I have zero memory, I was knocked unconscious on impact. This is what I got told… My dress was ripped off me when I got hit, my leather handbag torn off me, my Daniel Wellington watch – which was a 30th birthday sentiment – smashed, my leather jacket torn. I got told that I was extremely lucky that at the time of my accident medics were in the area strangely enough cycling past and a pedestrian lady from Australia, who was a doctor, all ran to my assistance. She used her personal blazer for under my head to get my head off the road, covered me up my jacket as my dress had torn off and my chest was fully exposed, I had also wet myself on impact. So from what we could see on how the impact took effect on me, this gent was definitely not on a Sunday chilled cycle. I have flash backs of the medics chatting about the cyclist and the speed he was going, how the cyclist said he wasn’t speeding and the medics saying its impossible for him to have done all this damage if he wasn’t speeding. We will never know what exactly happened but right now I was lying in the middle of the road surrounded by strangers all trying to assist me while we wait for an ambulance to get to the site…

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The first thing I remember is being “woken up” by people calling my name and repeating the same questions over and over again, or so that is what it felt like. “Mam, you have been in an accident, do you know what your name is, do you know where you were coming from, do you know where you where going, mam you have been hit by a cyclist”

It literally does feel like a dream now when I think back to this very moment, as I struggle to remember exactly what happened… I just remember seeing faces, a lot of faces looking down on me and medics repeating questions. I don’t remember being in any pain at the time, I remember being very confused…  I then noticed a few familiar faces and then it started coming back to me, where I was going, where I had come from, everything felt clear, but I couldn’t move. I felt nothing at the time… I remember being extremely calm, well I think I was, managing to recall contact numbers, home address and postcodes, personal details, it was all so easily accessible…

Then it starts to sink in, the reality of what is actually happening… That is when I remember going into complete shock, shaking, couldn’t breathe and wanting to move and get up and run away… but I couldn’t… I remember a mask of oxygen being forced onto my face, my friends grabbing my hand and telling me to breathe and calm down… I remember the doctors saying she is going into shock, breathe just breathe”

I had no feeling on the side of my face and I couldn’t remember not being able to see out of my left eye. I remember having a full panic about my teeth and my mouth (after spending my life in a dental chair and with no feeling the medics on site reassured me my teeth and mouth was ok… My one girlfriend told me afterwards that when I was freaking out about my mouth she kept saying to herself, “girl its your face that you should be worried about” which is something I had a serious good laugh about later on when she told me when I was on the mend haha… but for now that kind of joke was seriously off limits as I had no clue as to what sort of damage had happened…

I remember trying to make jokes with some of my friends who were there, telling them to take a selfie of us and I remember smiling and having a laugh… well at least I thought I was, until I saw the actual image… I was nowhere. My soul was alive and humorous but my body was in a completely different state.

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(Just an FYI I was the one who told them and persisted to tell them we needed a selfie I mean I hadn’t seen them for years  & they are the kindest souls… Then I saw the pic and I could see why they thought it wouldn’t be ok, but I am glad I had this image to show me what the scene looked like at the time, to bring some sort of mental ease to show a part of what actually went down that evening)

What felt like a few minutes on the ground, was actually 2 hours. 2 hours of lying in the road of one of the busiest spots in central London.

For those curious, cyclist was apparently on site after the accident, he came out unharmed. I dont know his name nor have any of his details. He also never reached out to me to check if I was ok, nothing… But at the time…. he was honestly the last person on my mind… ALL I WANTED was my family and thank goodness I have a London family who came running to be by my side.

My LNL work friends didn’t leave my side for one second while I was on the ground getting put into a stable state and while we waited for an ambulance to come collect me. They held my hand and calmed me down every single step of the way. As I got put into the ambulance one of my best friends arrived on site and hopped in last minute to hold my hand until all hours of the morning while the harsh reality of my accident started sinking in. My poor Chrisie got tasked with having to call my mom all the way back in SA, I dont remember pretty much anything in the ambulance or the call she made to my mom, my mom told me about it when I got home a few months later, but she said she knew instantly when the voice on the other side of the line was not her daughter.

I got rushed off to St Marys Hospital, to what I thought would be a few hours of check ups and then id be on my merry way home. I still remember being very adamant that I was leaving for Ibiza on the Monday for a very much anticipated reunion (the accident happened on the previous Thursday evening) and my girlfriend looking at me and just holding my hand and politely being like lets just see what the doctors say.

I wanted to see what I looked like and she refused to show me as she knew it would send me into complete shock. I couldn’t understand why everyone seemed a lot more worried about my status than me and then it all started kicking in and reality settled in…. Next minute I am being strapped down completely, they are worried about my spinal injuries and now I am not allowed to move, they keep doing all these checks, I remember them touching my feet and asking me do I have feeling and can I wriggle my toes. My face was apparently ballooning by the minute and I was covered in blood. I get sent for a MRI scan,  every bump or corner is literally taken so slowly as they are extremely worried about my potential injuries. I then get rolled back again for another MRI scan as they are worried about certain fractures running close to main arteries in my temple. It honestly all became a blur…

Its been a few hours now and I get taken to the main wards for observation. My scans came back in the clear for spinal injuries, I got told I have multiple fractures to my face, a huge gash over my eyebrow and a concussion (which at the time I had no clue as to how bad that actually was). The doctors kept repeating how lucky I am to be alive, that people die so often these days from accidents like this and that my injuries happen to fall just short of what couldve taken my life in the end.

What I thought was an over night observation turned out to be 4 days in Hospital…

I was in Hospital until late on the Sunday evening.

DAY 2 after the accident and waking up in hospital in a world of pain… I couldn’t sit up on my own, my concussion was so bad that I would basically black out just trying to sit up. I was STILL covered in blood, I had roasties (beautiful scab injuries)  everywhere from my hands, to my shoulders, to my chest and of course on the whole left side of my face. I couldn’t even walk to go to the bathroom, I had to use a bedpan. I couldn’t move at all without any assistance. I wasn’t allowed to lie flat on my back due to the injuries. I couldn’t eat anything as my mouth couldn’t open larger than a few millimetres. They were pumping me with all sorts of pain meds and antibiotics and then I was throwing up as I had nothing lining my stomach. It was a vicious circle. Stef holding my hair back and holding me up before I black out, sneaking me coconut water for some energy. It was all too real and all too emotional. Pain was excruciating. Whats app video calling became my only connection with my family & friends back home but only once I got shown the extent of my actual injuries through pictures. That afternoon I got shown exactly what I looked like post accident…

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IMG_7969My beautiful gash over my eyebrow, surprising, but only got attended to on the Saturday. The same gauze had been on since the accident to stop the bleeding and then took us about 2 or 3 hours soaking the MF while gently peeling off the gauze which had decided to stick with all its life to my injury. After a million tears and great persistence by Chrisie, the doctor came into the room to stitch me up… I was missing a good 0.5 cm of flesh between my wound so they had to dig around to see if any of the skin had rolled under and after no such luck just had to do what they could. I was then also at peace knowing that I would be missing half an eyebrow for life as the scar damage was really bad.

Once that debacle was complete, it was onto my eye… yes my eye which has been shut for 3 days and they are wanting me to see a specialist. The doctor eventually starts pulling my eye apart and forcing me to open it. After many tears again and some time, my eye opened and then after doing all the necessary checks all the tears of joy started pouring out of me… I could see!!!!!

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The reality of the accident was real and the reality that I wouldn’t be heading to Ibiza in 2 days and Greece later that week was all sinking in and I had to make those phone calls to let them know what has gone down and where I am at with my recovery… Me thinking after 3/4 days I would be back to myself but the road that lay ahead was a really tough and long one… Everything I had worked so hard for and looked forward to was disappearing before my eyes… My friend Georgie was a rockstar solo traveller and made an adventure without me – Im still so sorry I had to throw such a spanner in our trip so last minute! AND then it was the call to my team in Greece and London and how I won’t be able to start work anytime soon… Their love and support blew me away and their priority was me getting better as they had a team to step in at any given moment.

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Day 4 : Next up the forced environment of getting me to stand and get out of bed AND TO START WALKING… I would have to incline my bed to a high seated position and then “acclimatise” and then put it up even higher and “acclimatise” again. I would then have to get to nurses to get my legs out of the bed and I would sit on the edge of the bed for 15 minutes, I would get so nauseas and dizzy, I would have to lie back down and then start the whole process again. My concussion was so bad that just a general movement felt like my world was falling apart. I would get extremely dizzy, so dizzy that I would have to hold onto the bed or some set structure to “prevent” me from falling off the bed… Eventually late Sunday afternoon we had success, I stood up and had to walk the corridor with a walking ring for the first time. One slow, baby step at a time…. I cried like a baby… I was nowhere and every few seconds felt like I was going to black out completely. As soon as I managed to walk the corridor, I was moved to crutches and then I was then put into another ambulance and taken to specialists in Northwick park. I was transferred in a wheel chair and then had to sit for the first time consecutively for about 2/3 hours which sounds ok, but after a few days of not being able to sit it was hell. I got wheeled into the medical centre and then left there for my appointment, I remember just crying my eyes out as I had no one with me, no one to help me or hold my hand. Sounds very dramatic but when you can’t do anything yourself you feel super lost and hopeless. A complete stranger had to flag down the nurses when they called my name for assistance. I remember just crying and crying and crying. The specialist eventually saw me and stitched my eye up even further and then sent me home at about 11:30pm. They wheeled me to an uber and sent me on my merry way. ALONE!

I was exhausted, nauseas, in a world of pain and all I wanted was sleep. My taxi ride to any of my friends would’ve taken close to 2 hours so I got the taxi to go to my friend Ginas home, I still had her keys from the accident and she was overseas at the time. I didn’t care about how I would get myself to the apartment or who would look after me if anything happened all i knew is that her home, which was a comfort at the time, was the closest thing to me and that is where I was heading. I dont know where the strength came from but I managed to walked up about 5 steps to the door, I dont know how I opened the front door and I dont know how I made it to bed… I passed out cold and in the morning I knew my girlfriend Stef was going to be at my door picking me up and taking me to her home…

From then on it only got more and more tough, my girlfriend had to bath me, change me, basically do everything from me. I couldn’t do anything on my own. I remember it being Monday afternoon and it was the first time I had had a bath since the accident, the first time I could wash my hair and brush my teeth. The water filled with blood and debris from my hair. I washed out glass, pine kernels and even had to cut out gum. But it felt incredible to be able to wash away the accident eventually and to have clean clothes and to climb into a bed that was not in a hospital. I would just sleep and take meds and then force myself to get some food in my system and then repeat day after day.

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When I thought things were only going to get better, they only got worse…. Part 2 to follow with the rest of my journey…

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