Hi there.   My name is Evi and I’m 36 years old. Almost two years ago, on the 13 August 2015, I was involved in a serious road traffic accident.

I don’t remember how it happened and I am grateful for that. The police told me that there was a pot hole on the side of the road which caught my front side wheel of my car and span me into opposite direction, where my car sadly hit another car at a combined speed of  100 mph.

All I remember was waking up in the car and everything was in a very slow motion, in absolute quiet. No sense of smell or touch, just nothingness. Then the adrenaline kicked in and I had to drag myself out of the car because I could smell smoke. Still not knowing what had happened and where I was.  The only thing I knew was that my legs weren’t working and that I did not want to burn.

I was taken to St George’s Hospital, Major Trauma Centre.   I remember being scared as I was in so much pain and dazed from all the painkiller drugs.   There were lots of doctors, nurses, beeping noises, tubes, many questions thrown all in my direction, thousands of voices that didn't make sense to me. I had no idea why I couldn’t feel my legs and what was wrong with me. 

I spent two months in St George’s.  Every day was a battle for me, especially as I don’t come from this country, I am from the Czech Republic, so I didn’t have my family around.

It was a hard two months.  All my dignity was gone. I became totally dependent on everyone around me.  I had to learn to trust strangers very quickly.  Their judgements, statements, advice and believe me it wasn’t always easy.

But, on the other hand, I also had an amazing support from the wonderful therapy team, who helped with my rehab. The clinical nurse specialist, who was the right hand of my surgeon, always put a smile on my face.  There was also the porter, the dinner lady and cleaning lady with her enormous enthusiasm for life.  Meeting other patients and hearing their stories also helped and made me appreciate how lucky I was and that it could be worse, which became my daily mantra. All these people and their joined effort made me work twice as hard so their hard work wouldn’t be wasted.

Being able to be in contact with my family via internet was crucial, and my amazing friends that came to see me and help got me through my hospital stay.

Two months down the line I went home. To be honest I was petrified to go. For me it meant leaving my ‘’safety net’’, my ‘’new home’’ and the new friends I had made. I was leaving to go back home, which was at that time in the middle of nowhere, and where I lived with my ex-partner, so not the friendliest surrounding. I was not allowed to weight bare for 6 months and all I really wanted was to fly back home to my family but couldn’t.

I didn’t tell anyone how scary the thought of leaving hospital was for me, as everyone around was so cheerful and happy for me to reach that goal of leaving, so why to be scared, right?!! I was prepared. We had practiced. So I went, said my good byes and huge thank yous.

One month after being at home I hit rock bottom. The scariest thing is I did not see it coming, because that was not me.  I am normally a positive person, the glass is full. The smallest tasks like getting to a bathroom in a wheelchair, or putting my washing on.  Not even that, just to gather the clothes for washing was an enormous task. The pain and constant exhaustion all of sudden became my non-stop companion.

Also my location wasn’t ideal, and friends having their own families and jobs to do couldn’t visit as often as they hoped.  I became very lonely and isolated. I became emotionally and physically drained. To the point that I could see no way out and just thought it might be better for everyone around if there was no me. Then, just at that moment I got a green light for flying and could fly back home. Where I allowed myself rest and wasn’t alone anymore.

From then on, I felt very wary of any bad feelings.   I was later diagnosed with a PTSD.   I also had to have an operation on my arm for the nerve injury damage and undergo another operation on my pelvis as the screws had started to give me problems.  Almost after a year from the accident I could barely sit or stand up without pain. But my last operation was last November and since then I’ve been feeling better. 

I got involved in several patient engagement projects, hoping to help others with my experience and story.  There is nothing like meeting, reading about someone who went through a similar thing and learning from them that yes, there will be ups and downs, setbacks, but it really does get better.

I am still in recovery, mainly because of my arm and nerve injuries now, but in May I did a cyclethon ride for Barts Charity to raise money for trauma research and to raise awareness.  It was exciting for me to be able to bike again. I swim again and have started to work three half days a week. I still get exhausted quickly and am still getting neuropathic pain but, I am learning to manage that through all sorts of therapies, meditation, breathing techniques. I found a new man in my life, who is incredibly patient and supportive and who doesn’t see my scars. I have great family and friends who helped me when I needed it most

I am alive thanks to amazing team of doctors, nurses, therapists, family and friends. I can never thank them enough. I will never forget the feeling of having a shower for the first time, going to the loo myself, my first step (which I cried and laughed about at the same time with happiness) the first time I could brush my hair with my right hand. I have  learned to cherish my scars as they tell my story, I appreciate how much I’ve learned about myself and my own strength.  And I hope the reader will know that it really does get better, with patience, courage, hard work and time.

Evi has also shared three inspirational videos about her journey, including how she struggled with and overcame depression during her long recovery and the challenges of dating as she was still dealing with her injuries.