Mariet's story

A serious car crash is a very, very frightening experience.

I was on my way with friends to see a film at Denham film studios. For some unknown reason, I was invited to sit in the front passenger seat by my friend, whose husband was driving us. She was very happy in the back.

On our way, we had to turn right and cross a road. While I was talking to my friend in the back, I suddenly turned my head and saw this car coming towards us. Then...a tremendous bang…broken glass, metal, etc. and then fact an eerie stillness!! I thought I was waking up after a very bad dream. My friends groaning, obviously in pain, but talking to me.

The next thing I “woke up” to was a sea of fire engines, helicopters, police cars, ambulances everywhere.

By then a lady sat behind me in the back of our car holding my head. She spoke to me very gently and told me just to sit quietly and try not to move, while people were busy getting us out of the car. (My friend who drove died there and then. But I did not know this.)

She was very, very kind and kept me talking. She asked me for a telephone number so they could contact relatives. I gave them my son’s number but asked her not to phone him until the police could tell him how bad -or perhaps not so bad -the situation was going to be.

I also asked her to tell the paramedics, that if I was going to be an invalid, mentally or physically, they should NOT fight for my life. And I was surprisingly very calm about it, not at all panicky.
Someone was looking after me, I felt.

After that I was in and out consciousness...The next thing I saw was that the roof of the car was being cut away , so it was easier to get us out. But I have no idea what happened then....I woke up again in the helicopter on our way to the Royal London hospital. They thought I was the worst casualty, as I had the impact of the collision (at 70 mph or possibly more, according to the forensic people!)

Again, I have no recollection of landing and being taken out and transported into the hospital I “woke up” again after coming out of the scanner to be told: good news: no broken neck or back, but torn intestines, punctured lungs, bruising from top to bottom. And then I saw my son standing next to my bed.

He was of course as relieved as I was.

So I was operated on that night and woke up in a Trauma ward. Not the most relaxed atmosphere of course. In fact it was an eye opener to me and I became more and more aware how lucky I really was. The nurses there were outstandingly kind and helpful. Later, I wrote and thanked them all for their invaluable care on my road to recovery.

After one week, after very gentle and wonderful nursing and physiotherapy to get me on my feet again, I was allowed home. Of course I had to take things easy. But family and friends were terribly kind. My sister came from the Netherlands to stay with me, my son and daughter in law did my shopping and my little granddaughter (3 at that time) just cheered me up no end!

In the meantime of course the funeral of my friends was planned. And I decided NOT to attend, because I did not think I could cope with that tragedy, but also because I would possibly be a “centre of attention” and that would not be fair to their family.

After six weeks I had to get back into my car and drive, a big hurdle which I had to overcome. But I decided ...I either get into that car and drive or...I would have to move house, as I live in a village with only one shop. I also wanted to get back to playing golf.

I am obviously blessed with good healing power, for which I am extremely thankful.
I lead a busy life: charity work, looking after my now 4 year old granddaughter three afternoons a week, looking after my house and a large garden, but also playing golf and bridge.

I still can’t bear to watch sad films, especially when car accidents are involved etc. For a whole year I could not concentrate and read a book, however light. But that did not worry me as I had that same experience after I lost my husband. Now I can, thank goodness.

I also have NOT been on the road where my accident took place. But then there is no need for that just yet.

Trying to “think positively” seems to help me. And counting my blessings, seems to make me survive. I have to do this on my own, since I lost my husband 12 years ago. But I do “talk” to him every day, which gives me comfort.

I try and compare myself with people who are worse off, like the brave men who come back from wars, missing limbs or worse. They are young and have a life in front of them.

I have still a small swelling of liquid on one knee, and one on my hip. They don’t hurt. My GP knows about it and advised me to leave well alone, unless it would start to bother me. They might eventually go. I cannot kneel on that knee, but I can walk well, without discomfort.

Apart from that all is well.