If you are connected to me on Facebook, you’ll already be aware of the details of my road accident last Friday, 24th September, whilst riding my scooter home from work. If so, there’s no need to read on, but several people have asked for information, so here goes. Also, if I don’t blog about this now, I never will.
Firstly, I know full well that this is a relatively minor incident, and doesn’t even remotely compare with far worse happening on our roads every day. Of all the people I met in hospital, I had, by far, the slightest injury, and was far more able to cope. If you want to know the specific detail of the incident, my notes, written that night on my phone, are at the bottom.
This article is much more about the use I was able to make of social media, at a time when everything else was totally outside my control, and how this kept me sane from the moment of the accident.
Some people talk of experiencing a road accident as if in slow motion. This wasn’t true for me, as I felt as if I had been hit from behind, and it was over in a flash. As soon as my body came to rest on the tarmac, I was already cursing the stupid driver of the car that had caused it. I was going to get straight up and tell her, if she hadn’t fled the scene. I raised my head, and the first thing I saw didn’t make sense; my right foot was pointing almost entirely backwards! I decided I didn’t want to look again, as I instantly felt sick, and knew I shouldn’t move. I was lying on my side, resting my head on my laptop rucksack, and quickly removed my gloves, and unzipped my bike jacket to be able to breathe more easily. My iPhone was in my breast pocket, so I texted my wife Luciana, “Accident, but OK, broken leg”. My progress doing this was hampered by the crowd that had quickly formed, and a concerned woman asking what day of the week it was, and how many fingers she was holding up. I asked her to phone my wife, the ambulance, and see if the bloody Ford Ka had driven off. At this point, I have to say I let myself down. Despite this being the very type of incident I had been holding off swearing until, the most I could shout was For Goodness Sake!, and a couple of Bollocks! At that point, the woman driver came into my eyeline, crying and asking “Was that me? I’m so sorry”. Again I could have cursed with abandon, but could only confirm that it was indeed “her bloody fault!”
At this point a discussion broke out on the subject of removing my helmet. I had loosened the strap, but the presence of a Consultant Anaesthetist brought some certainty to proceedings. As I was sucking on the gas and air, provided by the medics, who had appeared within minutes, I could see the police cautioning the other driver, and children appearing to gawk at my wonky leg. The cocktail of gas and adrenalin meant that the ambulance ride was pain free, and before I could get comfy, I was lifted onto an A&E bed. I couldn’t believe how many people were gathered around me. So much so, that as they were cutting off my clothing, I was able to take several pics, and a couple of videos on my iPhone. Doing this definitely helped to keep my mind off my legs, which also had sustained severe knee bruising, cuts and torn ligaments, whilst I was being worked on. After “Checking In” to the Victoria Infirmary via Four Square and Facebook, these clips were uploaded to Facebook later that evening. (Don’t look, if you’re squeamish).
And so my social media odyssey began. There was to be no sleeping that night, and a steady stream of good wishes on Twitter, Facebook and text meant that I was happily kept busy, at a time when I could have been feeling very miserable. I quickly found that I needn’t hide my phone, as there was no ban in my ward. Moreover, the 3G signal was brilliant. Apparently long term patients are given the code for wireless broadband; it’s mainly kept secure to prevent staff from slacking. Before and after my operation, I was able to be in frequent contact with friends family and well-wishers, reading blogs, and researching my type of injury. Furthermore, I was playing online games, like scrabble, and watch live streaming TV whilst confined to bed. Luckily too, that my laptop, undamaged in the accident, contained several episodes of my favourite TV series “Sons of Anarchy” (about a murderous biker gang). The drugs and the drama meant that sleep was fitful, but I was never truly alone outside of visiting time.
By the time I was issued crutches and sent home on Monday afternoon, I think I had made more use of social media than I had in the previous 12 months. Once home though, my mood changed considerably. The accident had meant that for the first time in ten years, I wasn’t fully involved in finalising the shortlist for this year’s NORAs. I also had a fuller realisation of just how much this would change my life, at least for the next three months. After falling from my crutches whilst halfway up the stairs, I finally broke down. I had sensed it coming several times that day, but finally the dam burst, and I had myself a good pathetic cry. I was miserable, but at least the painkillers were working, and I was back in my own bed.
Thankfully, I had straightened myself out enough, later on, to prepare the announcement of the Finalists on www.NORAuk.com by working through the night.
Throughout the week, my mood has been up and down, but mostly optimistic. This is due the enormous support I have received from the wide network of friends and colleagues I have via social media. I may be out of commission for the next 5 weeks at least, but I will not be out of circulation. The holy trinity of social media will see to that – Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook (oh and Youtube too)
“Accident occurred at junction where Ashtree Rd becomes Riverford Rd, and is met by MacDougall St. I was heading in the direction of Newlands, on way home from work, around 5.45pm. I eased off to around 25mph, as there was a yellow Mini (with a chequered roof) waiting to come out of MacDougall St and a blue or purple Ford Ka waiting to cross my path into MacDougall St.
Beyond the point of no return, the Ford Ka (driven by a female) suddenly crossed in front of me. I had no option but to brake hard, in order to avoid a collision. This caused the scooter to lose control and flip. My foot was caught between the bike and Tarmac, and my leg broken instantly.
A crowd quickly gathered while I was on the ground. I told people what had happened and asked where the Ford Ka driver was. She then appeared, crying, and admitted she had been the cause of the accident.”
PS. I’d like to say a big personal thanks to Alan Whitford, who has been a great friend and immensely practical in his advice and support.