“I wanted to become a befriender so that I can help others”

Alex is one of our injured befrienders – he provides invaluable support to people who have been injured in a road crash. He shares his story with us below.  

*Trigger warning – details of catastrophic injury are detailed in the third paragraph*

I was involved in a road crash on 15th December 2016 in Southampton, at the time of the crash I was 27 years old and a PhD student at the University. I was hit by a car speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road. The speed was clocked at around 50mph. I was hit whilst crossing the road to a central reservation. 

I remember being swept off my feet, I can’t really describe the force of the impact, only it was like a giant baseball bat being swing into my side, I passed out almost instantly. I woke up about 20 mins later, looking up at the sky. Luckily the police and ambulance were very quick to respond. I saw the two officers that were first to the scene about 6 months later, they said they found me in a curled up position in a pool of blood and thought that I was dead, they said that when they got to me I was awake and gasping for breath. I was aware of what happened, but didn’t know the extent of my injuries, just that I was finding it extremely hard to breathe. I had a gut feeling it was bad and wondered if I was going to survive. Survival instinct kicked in, I just tried to regulate breathing and not to panic as I thought if I did things would turn for the worse. It was around 45 mins before I was taken to hospital, I was conscious up until the hospital then in and out until surgery. I had three lots of surgery, the first being I think about 14 hours, the other two for plastic surgery. I had multiple blood transfusions, and I believe I lost (and replaced) about 8 pints of blood. 

Both ankles were broken, the left being the worse which was pinned back together. My pelvis was broken and pinned back together. My left arm was broken which was an open fracture and again, pinned. Almost all my ribs were broken, and I had a collapsed lung. My spleen and bladder were damaged. I had a large degloving injury and open fractured back, in which I had plastic surgery to the wound, the graft taken from my left thigh. My skull was also fractured.  

I was treated at Southampton hospital, in intensive care, high dependency units, and general trauma ward. I was in hospital for 1 month and came out in a wheelchair. A few weeks later I was able to stand but used the wheelchair for a few months after whilst getting back on my feet. I spent time at in rehabilitation for physio and then ongoing physio up until last year.  

I wanted to become a befriender so that I can help others who have been in a similar situation to me. To offer advice, positive attitude, motivation, and just someone to chat to. To allow someone to recover in the best way they can, and to even surpass expectation! 

Something like the befriender service would have been invaluable to me, and I feel it is a service that is useful for anyone who been involved in a crash. It is also a service that could be used throughout their whole life. To be able to chat to someone in a similar position, be it someone that is at the same stage, or someone that is further down the line (could be months, or years) can make a huge difference. For me, advice on recovery such as physio, work life balance, dealing with mental aspects, from someone who has been there would have been a real asset in giving perspective and to create optimism to get through a tough time. 

If you would like to become a befriender of if you would like to be supported by one of our befrienders, please get in touch with us at helpline@roadpeace.org