Angela McShane, Founder of The Reinvention, shares her thoughts on how to move forward from a life-changing road incident:
Over a decade ago, while making my way home from work, I was knocked down by a drunk and drugged driver. I was hit at 70mph in a 30mph zone.
I was hit, dragged and ended up on the other side of the road. At that moment, I was unsure what had happened. All I knew was that I was lying on the road unable to move. Unable to move my arms, my legs or even my head off the ground. My face was completely smashed, my pelvis shattered, arms and legs broken too. The loss of blood was immense as part of my thigh and leg was missing and my opposite leg, my foot and ankle was completely taken off.
Sadly, at that moment the driver decided to stand over me, looked at the traumatic injuries he caused with his van and decided to drive away and not call for help.
8 weeks, 16 life-saving operations and many bags of blood transfusions later, I was stable but in a critical condition. Sadly, the family could not recognise who was lying in the hospital bed, other than my red hair. The injuries to my body and face were life-changing.
I could hear familiar voices but I couldn’t open my eyes due to the swelling. I tried to speak but there was something in my throat. I tried to move my legs, but nothing moved, I tried to lift my arm but there were so many wires around my body that I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t understand where I was. My last thought was walking home from work. Thinking about what I will have for tea. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t move.
And, at that moment, a relative came close to my bedside and softly said you have been in a car crash, it’s going to be ok, and you will walk again.
I couldn’t understand what he meant. I don’t drive a car. I was just making my way home. What do you mean? Looking back, I was still in that moment making my way home. My mind and body hadn’t caught up with each other yet. Everything was a blur and didn’t make any sense.
Several months later, I was told by the doctor that I may never walk again due to the severity of the injuries or be able to have children or live independently.
I was then moved to four different hospitals for various operations and treatment and now had just spent a full year in hospital. It wasn’t until I reached my 12 month mark in hospital that we got the green light to start my physiotherapy rehab journey.
At this point, I just got my metal fixators out from my hips and legs, and arms to mental braces to help construct my jaw and facial features. The first step to my recovery was to learn to sit up on the bed with the help of three nurses and physio. After a year of lying on a soft hospital bed, I was learning how to dress myself, feed myself and learn those little basics all over again. I was at ground zero. And my journey of reinvention had only begun.
Over a decade later, like so many victims and survivors of road traffic incidents, learning how to rise up and become stronger from life-changing incidents can be tough yet can be a powerful and rewarding process too.
Here are few things, I have learned along the way:
- Be easy on yourself. You have just experienced one of the biggest life-changing experiences. This is your time to heal and find your way to become stronger physically and mentally, no matter how long that takes, be kind to yourself.
- The journey of recovery offers many twists and turns. What will stay consistent will be your courage and determination to keep going.
- Throughout your recovery process, you will try everything just to make things a little easier for yourself. You will reach a point and you will find things that work! When this happens, it feels amazing. Don’t forget when those moments arise – celebrate the wins, no matter how small or big. Celebrate the win because you got there and kept going, despite the adversity.
- You can’t rush the healing process. Your body and mind will need time to process this experience in its own time. Focus on what you can do at physiotherapy to enhance your life and educate yourself on this journey. This will only contribute to a better healing process for a full recovery. In turn, it will make you feel a little better and stronger along the way to healing.
- Create some goals to work towards. Finding purpose and motivation in this healing process will keep your motivation strong. Find your thing.
Finally, my biggest piece of advice:
‘’You are not defined by what happens to you. You are defined by what you do next! Love Angela x’’
Thanks to support from the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, has launched a range of support services for victims of road crashes in West Mercia.
The support group meetings for injured victims are held bi-monthly. These meetings give victims an opportunity to meet others similarly affected and who truly understand the sudden and traumatic impact of road crashes.
If you would like to attend the meetings or would like further information, please feel free to contact Sally Howard (West Mercia Project Administrator) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the RoadPeace helpline on 0845 4500 355.
You can find more information about RoadPeace’s support services here
Angela McShane, Speaker and Founder of the organisation called The Reinvention
Updated on: 25 November 2021