Life can sometimes seem to have a way of pulling the rug out from under our feet just when we least expect it. Brian had been making his way to work when he has hit by a van – he ended up in a coma and spent best part of 2 months in hospital. When he was discharged and made it home it was a difficult coming to terms with life after the accident, because of his injuries a return to work wasn’t possible. Brian didn’t know what the future held and what he’d be capable of. Then a friend told him about Handcrafted…. Brian takes up the story
“Richard said to me ‘Why don’t you come along to Handcrafted, and you’ll be able to help people?’ So I started coming along and things just seemed to fall into place. I’m still recovering and a lot of people are helping me. I’m not fully where I want to be yet but Handcrafted is a big help. It gets me out and I’ve started to do things that I’ve not done since school and I feel better for it, as all I would have been doing was sitting in the house doing nothing, dwelling on things that have happened.
When the accident occurred I was cycling to work. I’d left the house at 2 am as I started work at 4 am. I was riding with lights on and wearing fluorescent clothing and backpack. A van came up behind me and hit me – I went 20 foot in the air and landed at the road side. When I was found the back of my head was split head wide open. I wasn’t breathing so they needed to do a tracheotomy. The force of the impact had been so severe it moved my heart inside my chest, it was too far over to the left, so I had to be opened up and they used a special tool to pull my heart back into line. I was moved from Durham to the Freeman Hospital and then the RVI. I was in a coma for two weeks and in hospital for 7 weeks altogether – two of these were in Intensive Care.
When I eventually regained consciousness, lots of the staff would come past my bed and ask me how I was – I didn’t know who they were but I was told that they were the people who had brought me back to life as it were – about 20 of them. When I heard this I started crying – it was quite overwhelming really.
I was transferred back to Durham via ambulance and a nurse went with me. When I got onto the ward there they were talking to me and said ‘Do you realise you fractured virtually every bone in your body?’ I’ve got metal plates holding me together!
My accident was on 6th October. On 12th Nov the physio team came and got me out of bed to walk again. My friends were there – they’d just been to the cathedral and popped into see me – they wanted to walk with me but it was the nurses that insisted they would be the first ones to go with me on my ‘maiden voyage’. I was strapped into the zimmer frame and walked with them down to the main doors. I asked the nurses to take my picture so I could send it to my daughters as I wanted my girls to see me walking again.
I was in a wheelchair at first and I then got to walking with sticks. I had a neck brace on – I looked like something out of Star Wars with all the gear I had on. The two hospital chaplains would come and see me on the ward each day. They’d talk to me and talked about God and I told them that I believed God had never left me and it was this belief in God that got me through and back on my feet.
I’m just pleased I’m here and I thank God every morning I wake up. Because of the accident I’ve lost the full use of my left arm so I can’t work. At Handcrafted I can take as much time as I need and work at my own pace, whereas when I was working I didn’t have time for anything. Coming to the workshop is really good and enjoying it that much it’s unbelievable. The atmosphere is great, fantastic and people have helped me so much.”
It’s been such an encouragement for all the guys to see how, in under 12 months, Brian is not only walking about – but he has a real heart to use his time to help others. When we get together each morning to discuss the day ahead and share our plans Brian is always one of the first to offer to work alongside anyone who needs extra help. He’s up for trying pretty much anything from working on the lathe to repainting our canteen table. It’s an absolute privilege for us to be alongside Brian as he’s recovering, he literally is a walking miracle and his continued progress is an inspiration to all of us. To think that less than a year ago he wasn’t able to breathe unaided, to see him now, getting stuck in, it’s simply incredible.