Part 2 : A Life Changing Experience

At this point of my recovery it was nearing a week since the accident…

All I did was sleep and when I wasn’t sleeping I was taking all my meds from antibiotics to pain pills and then passing out again… I was realistically sleeping 95% of my day and when the pain meds would wear off I would wake up from the excruiating pain…

I still couldn’t walk without crutches supporting me and holding me up, it took me 15 minutes to find the strength and balance just to sit up and attempt to walk to the bathroom as my concussion side effects were very intense. I would wake up every morning and hope for more strength and for healing. My mom would be the first person I spoke to every single time I would wake up and we would FaceTime for as long as my energy could hold up, sometimes I would even lie there with my eyes closed half asleep while she just chatted to me and could be there for me, as FaceTime is all we had…

My bloody injuries were healing up and I was turning into one large scab, my eye and then eyes changed colour every single day, different shades of purple, pink and yellow all took its turns. I had zero feeling on majority of the left hand side of my face and swelling was still quite prominent… My stitches were healing nicely and my mouth still could barely open from my injuries. 

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I was nailing my smile daily …. Well it became a thing where I would send updates to my family on the improvements of not only my swelling and my face shades of all the colours, but of my smile as my face was numb and had no mobility at all, this picture was a HUGE IMPROVEMENT… Even though I would cry at times, it was moments like this where we would laugh (well I could laugh internally as my face hurt too much when I did) but its what feeds the soul and so we try find the humour in everything to cheer me up… so my smile became the family joke 🙂 And nothing made me happier… 

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AND yes my PJ’s and my smoothie matched the different shades on my face – it was all planned (AGAIN got to always find the humour in these crazy situations hahaha)

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The everyday video call with the mamma bear and of course the smile of improvement every time 🙂

So jumping back to day 3 of being at home and a day short of a week after the accident, I was in a world of pain, excruciating pain. After hour long calls to my mom on the phone, she suggested I have a look into my mouth to see if anything is happening in there as its the first time my mouth was able to open wider then a cm. To back track after the accident my mouth was filled with all these lacerations from the accident, but we didn’t think twice about anything… I had this constant pressure and pain and so after my moms advice I decided to look into my mouth for the very first time, my entire left hand side of my mouth was infected and swollen. Looked like one large apses if I could put it any any form of a medical term. Emergency appointments made for a dentist 2 hours later (my poor mom literally calling every specialist she could and begged them for an appointment to help me and everyone was booked up for weeks and FINALLY we found someone who was willing to see me after hours and they were close to where I was staying…  R2000 for a quick check up later (which the travel insurance has been refusing to pay) I was rushed off to get urgent attention.

I had to catch an uber by myself as my friends were all at work,  keep in mind I can barely walk to the bathroom now I am going on a solo mission to the dentist. After nearly 20 minutes of making my way out the apartment to the street I find my uber driver and we head off, he proceeds to drop me off on a street corner, I ask him where the doctors rooms are and he said somewhere in this area. After no such luck of him helping me he proceeded to tell me that I must  get out as my trip is now done. So he kicks me to the curb. I have no idea where I am, I am trying to hold myself up on crutches, I can’t balance on crutches and get my phone out let alone balance myself up while I’m on the phone but somehow finding a wall and some serious inner strength I manage to call the rooms and they explain to me where to go. But in order for me to reach their offices I need to cross a main road in the city, A ROAD, on my crutches and after the last time I crossed a road I was taken out by a bike.

I had a complete meltdown from the PTSD, full on panic attack and hysterically started crying while I managed to walk across a large intersection to get to their rooms. By the time I crossed the road and got inside I couldn’t even stand, breath or function. I just broke down. They were incredible though and couldn’t have been more grateful for the personal attention they gave to assist me and to calm me down. After some water and some serious pep talks from them we had a quick check up. They said my teeth and gums were all ok and that the cause of infection was potentially coming from my fractures in my cheek which could be aggravated from my tooth implant. He suggested me going back to the hospital and having them investigate further.

Little did I know this was the start of what would be an extremely difficult and painful 3 weeks where hospital visits would happen on the DAILY. That would entail waiting to see specialists and every time seeing a new doctor and having to re-tell my horror story and explain my symptoms  and how I dont live here and how I would like to get better and start my work adventure. But every doctor had their own ideas and would be telling me a different plan. Hours spent waiting in the waiting rooms, hours spent having no sort of idea of how I am going to get better and what the steps are to be healed. In all, hours spent trying to see the light of this never ending dark tunnel…

BUT throughout this I would stay positive, I would not let this accident win… Yes there were times where I would cry in the doctors offices, or times crying all the way home in the uber after appointments or where I would cry myself to sleep just wanting comfort from my mom and family… But I stayed strong and I fought for myself, to not loose myself in any sort of depression… To have my goals and to focus on them. My goal was to get to Greece to head up an event that I had been dreaming of all year, and I knew going home would send me into a depression if I lost everything I worked for. So Greece became my goal and my reason to recover at a rapid pace. I WILL NOT GO BACK HOME! I WILL NOT LET THIS ACCIDENT WIN AND TAKE AWAY WHAT I WORKED FOR!!!!!!! That was my mental game…

However the facts were pretty real as well and even if I wanted to go home, I couldn’t…

I wasn’t allowed to fly / meaning I am not fit to fly due to the extent of my injuries as one of my fractures was under my eye socket with an air bubble so that was a huge danger,long with all my other injuries, but that was their main concern. I was stuck in London until my injuries healed and doctors gave me the all clear wether I liked it or not…

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SIDE NOTE : So during all of this, you are proborly wondering why none of my family was with me by this point… Thanks to VISAS it became my moms worst nightmare and basically impossible for her to get to me. My mom had been trying to get to me from SA, having only a SA passport, we knew it was going to be a process BUT definitely not one like this…

There is such a thing as an emergency visa, however an emergency clearly doesnt mean urgent and comes with a very hefty price… They are only open 4 days out of the week and only at certain times, so huge apologies if any accident happens between Thursday late morning and Sunday… My mom was an hour over the cut off time (Thursday at 11am) after she had paid close to 25k for her visa, she got told it would only be ready the following week Tuesday so realistically she could fly Wednesday – so only get to me another week later…. WTF!!!! She spent hours on the phone to the UK embassy in London for assistance (where they ask for credit card details before you get transferred to anyone, so the call costs you a hefty price regardless of the outcome) so after hours of speaking and begging for help in SA, they could not do a thing. Your child being in hospital and nearly dying is clearly not an emergency enough for anyone to make any sort of changes to get you there. But dont worry you and your fellow SA citizen who is going on an urgent business trip will get there at the same time a week later… REALLY?! So after many tears and calls, my sister stepped in last minute to come be by my side for a few days. She had just started a new job, but they had heard what had happened and told her to come to me immediately. She has an Italian passport luckily so ticket booked and she was on a flight instantly. My mom just so grateful that my sister was able to get to me as soon as she could. No matter what the costs were, she was coming to London to be with me…

Before I knew it my sister was by my side and with me at every single appointment. She spent her full week sitting in hospital waiting rooms, doctors rooms, ubers for hours and then when we were done there as soon as we got back to the apartment, I would sleep for hours… Having her by my side was just what I needed, as I needed second opinions and gut instincts on what doctors were saying to me. One doctor or specialist said to me I should just wait 2 weeks and then update him on my infection… 2 WEEKS!!!! I was supposed to have left London 2 weeks before that and they wanting me to just hang around… so we went off to get second opinions… I even sent off all my information and X-rays to our family friend back in SA, Kyle, to get his opinion on my tooth implants and infections. He literally was an angel! He got second opinions from his friends who were maxillofacial surgeons and gave me his personal advice on what he would do…. which turned out to be the exact same advice that was coming my way….

EVENTUALLY after a week we had an appointment with a specialist at Royal London Hospital and met the most amazing specialist who could see the trauma and struggle of what I had gone through and made me a promise to get me out of London in 10 days. They were the first doctors who sat me down and explained the extent of my injuries and fractures in my face, they set out a game plan of surgeries and how and when this should all go down and the risks involved. He said to me he would treat this like he was treating his own daughter and give me the support and advice a member of his family would need. They were so good they wanted to check me in immediately but due to the nature of our living environment and the stress levels I had gone through I asked if we could wait 2 days so I could pack up our lives in our apartment, let my sister and I spend 1 day of where we are not in a hospital and then mentally be in the game for my surgery. Which is exactly what we did…

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So here were the extent of my injuries…

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  • Multiple fractures to my cheek
  • Frature by my temple
  • Fracture under my eye socket
  • Fracture in my jaw
  • My eyebrow stitches came out while my sister was in town and that healed nicely however the scar was traumatising, seeing it was real but feeling it struck a chord in my soul. It felt like someone had sliced my eyebrow with a butter knife, it was jagged and lumpy and just pure awful to feel. But it was my war wound, missing half my eyebrow and I was going to wear it with pride…

To be fair I would get used to it, after seeing it every single day and the improvements that were so drastic. But to people who were seeing me for the first time would honestly get a fright and at times loose their breath. So again you would relive your wounds through peoples reactions every time, however I would always have a smile on my face and tell them its ok and that I’m ok 🙂 Again where the strength and positivity was coming from was incredible!

My sister was my pillar of strength during my weakest moments that week, when I was feeling at my all time low she was there holding my hand every step of the way. I knew at some point I needed to go back to the accident scene to help me mentally deal with what happened and so while she was with me we went past there one of the evenings at around the same time the accident happened. She held my hand as we crossed the exact road where it happened, we compared pictures of what I got sent of me lying in the road as to how far I mustve flown to land there, I thought I made it to the pavement, but I was slap bang in the middle of the road… You could see the blood stains and we matched up exactly where I was lying. Crossing that road seems petty to some but to me it was such a huge accomplishment and helped me mentally so so much! I had achieved something which I thought would put me in a flat spin and panic but I managed to do it and have a smile on my face in the end! I defeated fear! Well the first part of it…

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My little Bas, I am so so so grateful for you dropping everything to get to me. For your work family for being so supportive even though they have never met me and for letting you go when you just basically joined the company. I could never have done that week without you, you were by my side when I needed you most and when I was at my weakest mental state. You were the most patient and caring human ever, not once did you moan or complain, even after hours of sitting in hospitals and then waiting for me to wake up from my ever lasting naps. From flying to me straight after the Dbn July with a “slight” hangover and an ordeal of a flight, to unpaid leave, to being away from your hubby & fur babies and for putting up with me. You deserve the world! AND a holiday after that week! Love you my darl, this is all a testimony of just how incredibly special you are and just how amazing our sister bond is x x x

It was coming up to a month, a month of not being able to sleep or touch my left hand side of my face. I had no feeling at all in most places on my face and in some spots pins and needles sensation when my finger dragged across the skin. My scabs had started to peel off and my scars started healing slowing. My eyes were still changing colour daily. Swelling started subsiding in areas and my concussion started getting better but still nowhere close to normality. I couldn’t look up or down without wanting to black out, it still took me ages to go from a lying down position to a seated position to a standing position. Nothing was quick, everything took time. The doctors would tell me my brain is like a snow globe at the moment and every time I move or change position it takes a while for the snow to settle. Meaning my brain and my mobility was not at its best, I couldn’t handle loud noises and people chatting around me, I was sensitive to sound and light. Anxiety tried to get the better of me but meditation calmed me. Sleep was my best friend and every day things just got easier and better… But I knew my road ahead was still a long one…

Further transformations of my face and healing process…

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Unfortunately my surgery got pushed out a further few days and so my sister had to leave for back home before I could go in as her ticket was booked before all these new revelations had popped up. THANK GOODNESS for my incredible London family who would take me in and look after me like their own kid… Before I knew it I was on my way to the hospital for my surgery, Adam & Cam persistent that they drive me to the hospital and Ash & Gins waiting there for me to be my hands of comfort. I was going to be in and out the same day and my friends were on standby and waiting for me in the waiting room to come hold my hand the minute I was out…

I remember the night before my surgery being an absolute wreck, being so overwhelmed with emotion… Everytime I saw some light at the end of the tunnel there was another mountain that got put in my way, but every time I stayed so calm and so positive… I personally dont know where it came from but I am so grateful I had the strength to deal with it the way I did… I spent time writing down everything I was grateful for and how lucky I am to be alive and on the mend. At the time I still couldn’t understand why this had to happen, why I had to go through this and especially that it happened so far away from home… But in a few months times it all fell into place…

I remember waiting for my surgery, hanging out in my cool gown and socks with a bunch of other ladies, like a waiting room but a surgery waiting room… Next minute they call your name and you head over to the nurses on duty, they take your belongings and send you off… At this time, I started to panic, told them I had to call my mom and they gave me 30 seconds, I just wanted someone to calm me and to hold my hand but how it works there is you are on your own… So much had gone wrong and I was so scared more was coming my way… so I just cried and cried and CRIED!!! The anaesthetist and his assistant literally held my hand and calmed me down until I was under… they were so amazing and just what my fragile soul needed…

Waking up in recovery was another story… I just remember kicking and screaming from pain, it was through the roof, they kept coming to give me larger doses of pain meds but nothing seemed to work… eventually subsiding and only letting me back to the ward 2 hours later where I waited another 1.5 before my girls could come and see me… I didn’t get told what they actually ended up doing, I had to ask my nurse what I should do with my recovery and my mouth, it just felt like something was missing, but knowing it was done and we took it as, no news is good news and headed home for recovery.

The tooth implant had been removed and it was in my hand AHHHH YEAH!!!

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Juice box in one hand, tooth implant in the other and rocking my cool socks, I was ready to head home and hopefully the last hurdle in my way…

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A few days later I eventually had my follow up with my specialist and he could then explain what exactly went down and how the surgery went so well AND how my tooth implant was what caused the infection as it wasn’t happy at all as it was sitting slap bang in the middle of my fractured cheek bone. He did tell me that they struggled to close the hole in my mouth where the implant was and if I find myself drinking water and it comes out my nose I would need to head to hospital immediately (yes that is a thing ) HOWEVER he said all looks great for now and I eventually got given the FIT TO FLY document and I could eventually leave for Greece… I then spent the rest of the week finding my feet again, forcing myself to go for walks and trying to integrate back into society in a social manner and in all play a very strong mental game with myself. Before I knew it was time for me to fly to Greece and to start my much awaited job! Which felt like a dream!!!!

I had made Adam & Cams place my home for the past 2 weeks and London had been my security and family for the past month and nothing had prepped me for the emotions that were about to over take me when I walked out the door and climbed into my taxi.

I was an absolute wreck, I just cried and cried…. I was leaving my security and my home and I was going to be on my own for the first time since the accident… A surreal moment… A scary moment… A moment that I had been waiting for, for weeks… Before I knew it, I had landed in Greece and the fear and pain started fading away and by the time I reached my new home for the next 7 weeks I felt at peace, I was eventually here!!! I made it!!!!

A simple freak accident with a cyclist taking me out, left me stuck in London for just over a month… The toughest month of my life, where my patience, positivity and strength got tested to its full capacity. When I thought I had lost all hope in humanity I saw such an incredible bond in my community that would do anything and everything to help me. People I hadn’t spoken to in years, reaching out to help me, offering their homes and their support at any given time. Filling my inbox with all the love and support, each and every single message is honestly what kept me going, what kept me positive and what filled my heart with all the love! I would get so overwhelmed at times as I couldn’t believe the support I was getting. Daily check ins from friends all over the world, friends dropping in for visits and bringing me flowers, food, letters and books. The community that came together to take turns in housing me, baby sitting and nursing me, feeding me and spoiling me with all the love! You guys showed me a world of love and support I didn’t think that existed anymore and opened up my eyes to how incredible my network of friends and family are! I am sorry for the messages I have yet to respond to, at the time it was extremely hard to reply to all of them. My strength would be drained in a few minutes so my phone was placed on the side table throughout the month. Just know that I read all of them and they gave me life!

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The above was from my amazing Yacht Week Family // From old school veteran Yacht Weeker Erik, to the team at head office in London and then to my YW family waiting for me in Greece 💕 I even got sent my very own Belle Band thanks my darling Belle! Each and everyone of you so thoughtful.

The improvement of my injuries from Day 3 to just before I left London. Its honestly incredible the transformation your body takes over the healing period… 

Christiana, Stef, Gina, Ashleigh, Camilla & Adam, you 6 incredible humans are the reason my mom could breathe, you were my daily support and family that nursed me back to health when my family was on the other side of the world. You guys took me into your homes, held my hand when I was scared, wiped my tears when I was crying, took me for walks to let me get some fresh air and then put me to bed and nursed me back to health when I couldn’t walk anymore. Cooked me meals, sorted out my meds, brought me ice packs and got me hooked on Love Island. No task was ever too much for any of you, you are the most selfless incredible friends and I am the luckiest person alive to have you guys in my life. I dont know how I will ever repay you for what you did for me and my family, but I hope one day I can do something so special to thank each and every one of you x x x

Some very special and meaningful pictures that I managed to take over this period, wether it was my first outing that I had since the accident or a turning moment after the accident.. These are some of the angels that were looking after me for the full duration of my time in London ✨

My new adventure was about to start in Greece and the accident was put in a box on the shelf for now… my priority was work and my team… I wanted to have the best season ever in Greece… BUT if I learnt anything more is that you can place all these feelings and emotions in a box for now but they will soon come and find you again once the manic rush calms down…

 

Part 3 of this adventure to follow….

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