From Stairs To Ramps: From Nakuru To Nairobi By Ambulance And Waking Up To The Reality That I Was Paralyzed

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My name is Brian and I had an accident in 2014 that changed my life. It shattered my dreams and left me with bits and pieces that I had to put back together. I woke up after the accident to find that because of one bad decision by a trailer, my life had changed and I had lost some of my friends.  Find part one of my story here.

It was now a few hours after the accident, my parents and a few friends of mine had already made their way to the hospital. Seeing me lie motionless on that bed, they must have hoped that I was just in a deep sleep and things would be okay once I woke up. I don’t remember the exact moment I regained consciousness but I am told my mind was all over the place and nothing I said made sense. Maybe it was the shock.

Once the scans were out, it was established that I had a broken neck. Due to the severity of the injury, the doctors suggested that I be rushed to Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi for emergency surgery. That suggestion posed 2 problems, I was in Nakuru and there was no suitable ambulance available to transport a patient with a spine injury. We had to wait for a rugby event to end so we could hire the Kenya Red Cross ambulance that had been kept standby during the event in case of any injuries.

I remember the rapid revving of the land cruiser engine, we were moving at incredible speed. My memory of that Saturday night only exists in fragments but looking back, I had come to terms with the possibility of not getting to Aga Khan. I was in excruciating pain from the injury and the straps holding my body firm on the stretcher didn’t help. I kept asking the nurse in the ambulance whether I was going to be okay but her answer didn’t matter that much to me. I could feel that something terrible had happened to me. I was scared.

People ask me what my first reaction was when I had the “talk” with my doctor. The talk during which he told me I would never walk again. To these people, I retort, “which doctor?” or “what talk?”. Don’t let the movies fool you guys. In my case, there wasn’t an emotional meeting with the doctor at my bedside where he broke the news of my paralysis. No one told me the extent of my injury, no one sat me down and prepared me for what was ahead. Google did.

Lying on a hospital bed; sickly and dependent can be quite humbling. A wise man in this position lowers his voice, waters his patience and manages his temperament. These are the lessons I came to learn during my two-month stay at the Kenyatta National Hospital after surviving a gruesome accident. I was beaten, I was bruised and I was defeated.

In order to align my spine before surgery, they undertook a procedure called Traction. This meant drilling holes on each side of my head and attaching weights to pull it back as much as possible. During this painful period, I received overwhelming support from my family and friends. The importance of their prayers and well wishes to my recovery cannot be overstated.

In the hospital

As I lay on my bed from dawn to dusk, I could feel life leaving me behind and I wondered whether this life was worth living. “I shouldn’t have to try this hard”, I would frequently affirm my blossoming depression. Something interesting about progressed depression is how everything about life feels stale; the air is unpleasantly stuffy, the light from the sun is blinding and the food is tasteless… The only comfort coming as the sun sets and darkness starts to loom. Such was my reality then, the pain demanded to be felt.

Let’s meet next Monday for me to tell you more about my story. If you would like to interact with me, you can find me on Facebook.

 

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