Self

In A Micro-Second, My Life Changed Forever

Photo: Photo Courtesy of Author, marekuliasz, sudok1 | Canva
Author during and after his accident

Within the last year, I have been in the hospital for 6 months.

But let's back up.

One evening, I had just left the station to ride my bike to my house. It would take no more than 5 minutes to get there. I didn’t get home.

The next thing I knew was when I woke up in the hospital a month later. This was the third hospital I had been in. Some of my skull had been removed and put into my body. I had no idea why I was there. It was like I had been born again, but bigger and older than I was before.

At the time, I thought I could talk to people, but no one could understand anything I said. A few weeks later, a surgeon told me that he was about to put my skull back into my head. He asked me to sign a form to allow him to do this.

I tried to write my name and realized that I couldn't do it. My hand could move, but I didn't know how to write my name. He had to call my wife to ask her if she would agree to the operation.

In my ward, the TV was on, and out of the blue, Boris Johnson left the UK government. Then Liz Truss also left, whilst I was still in hospital.

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The planet I was on appeared to be pretty weird.

I have been told that I fell off my bike and hit my head very badly. But even now, I have no memory of it. For a few weeks, I was in an induced coma. My wife was told by one of my surgeons that I had a 50/50 chance of dying. Later, she was told that I might never go back to who I was before the accident and that It was possible that I would spend the rest of my life not talking. Sadly, it was much more difficult for my wife than it was for me.

Photo: After they had taken out part of my skull, they put a helmet on me whenever I came out of my bed./George Turner

My skull was taken out because my brain had started to swell — it's a last resort and it saved my life.

Photo: An X-ray of my head after putting my skull back in. Taking out part of my skull saved my life. /George Turner

The doctors, surgeons, and nurses saved me. And they did this, without knowing who I am. We were not friends before we met. Every day, medical professionals try to help people who require it. They are wonderful people.

For the next four months after my skull was put back into my head, I continued to be in the hospital. Speech therapists helped me re-learn to eat, drink, speak, write, and read again. Physiotherapists helped me to stand up and walk again. Occupational therapists helped me relearn many new skills. Psychologists help me to understand my new life.

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My rehab is now at home. I have not yet been "fixed."

I'm grateful. My life is much better than it could be. My brain is not as good as it was before but thankfully, parts of it have renewed itself. It's been very slow for me to write this. My brain may continue to improve — and hopefully, regain close to who I was before — or it may not. Nobody knows, which is quite scary.

A friend of mine told me that many years ago he had an injury that was close to mine. It took him two years after which he could work again. Telling me about his ordeal was not difficult for me to hear; it gave me hope.

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I'm determined to do as much as I can. I've always been a fighter and will continue to be a fighter, even though this accident has been the most difficult and terrifying time of my life.

I'm now on a journey, without knowing where I'm going. It is like I'm on a train, without knowing its destination, and annoyingly, it's quite a slow ride. The train could crash, take you somewhere terrible, or to where you were before, but also to somewhere new and lovely.

The best thing to do is to ride the train and just look outside without thinking too much about where you were before and where you might be heading. Are you going to be the driver or the passenger? It's your choice. 

Photo: A few months ago I went for a weekend to Venice. I went on my own to meet an old friend. /George Turner

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George Turner was a writer and investigative journalist. In July 2022 he almost died after falling from his bike and sustaining a serious brain injury. He is now writing about his experiences to support his recovery and, he hopes, to inspire others facing unexpected challenges.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.