The 27th June 2010 is a date that will stick in my mind as 'mixed'.
It was the day that England played Germany in the World Cup. Now for people who know me that would seem irrelevant since I don't follow football, and neither does Mr H. It was a warm, summer's day; the sort where all the car parks and the best dog walking places in the New Forest are full of people and you can get no peace, especially as on a hot day we like to walk near water so that Django can cool down.
Because the England-Germany match was on, we thought maybe the Forest would be a bit quieter, and I suggested taking a small picnic - bread and cheese, fruit and cake, a bottle of squash and a flask of tea - out to a small river near Burley with our books, and chilling out for the afternoon. In fact the place was deserted; the car park was EMPTY!! never before seen except on a cold, wet winter's day; and we didn't meet a soul. We spent a lovely few hours doing the afore-mentioned chilling until about 5.30 and then headed for home feeling good about life.
That's when someone decided to spoil the day for us... I was driving our VW Transporter and on rounding a long bend all I saw was a white truck coming towards me with it's wheels straddling the white lines. I waited for it to pull back to it's own side of the road. It didn't... but instead carried on to our side, I remember saying "Oh, what...?" before the inevitable happened, head on drivers' sides impact. We ended up with the back end of the van in the hedge; the truck turned over. Mr H. says I sat there and said "Oh, no." The whole thing seemed so inconvenient, unnecessary, unbelievable. I'd never been in a road accident before and had no idea what to expect; I'd never seriously injured myself or broken any bones, the whole episode was a series of new experiences for me.
Edit 10/8/10: The combined impact speed was probably around 100mph, we calculated afterwards. The photos in the press looked horrendous, but were taken after the roof had been cut off our van.
I was relieved to see that Mr H. was apparently undamaged as he checked on me... I couldn't breathe as I was completely winded, but that only lasted a minute or so. I didn't really feel any pain, just the discomfort of realising that I couldn't move - my right leg was jammed between the dashboard and the seat. A nice lady from one of the cars, who worked at the hospital, came and sat with me while Mr H. called 999 and got Django out of the back of the van. After that there were lots of people around but no feeling of panic at all, it was all very calm and professional. Apparently there were 20 firemen, about 4 ambulances, and the police. They had to tend to the people in the truck first because she was more seriously injured, so I sat in the van with a couple of paramedics talking to me and asking me to wiggle my toes. They said I had broken my leg but the only pain I felt was the sort you get when you've been kneeling down for too long and then you get up and the feeling starts coming back.
The fire-service came and cut the roof off the front of the van, the noise of that was loud and a little scary; they protected those of us inside with a large sheet of polythene, and bits of board which reminded me of my dad's old 1950's home-made surfboard for some reason. The worse bit was when they had to lever the dashboard away from my leg to make some space - I was scared that something would slip and spring back onto me. But they have amazing hydraulic jacks which they use to hold everything apart.
After about 90 minutes I was freed, strapped onto a stretcher and off to hospital; a vet had been to see to Django and take him back to be looked after; and Mr H. remained at the scene and came up to the hospital with a paramedic. A & E was just a blur of needles and X-rays; and having my leg pulled back to where it should be, which amazingly didn't hurt - I must have had a lot of morphine at that point!
The driver of the truck sadly died from her injuries the next day, and a nurse came to tell me on Tuesday. That was the first time I cried.
I had my first op the following day (Monday) to put an intramedullary (IM) nail into my femur; I also had bad soft tissue damage to my left knee which needed debridement (cleaning out) and stitching up. Alex said later that it looked like a split-open sausage - mmm! Other than that I just had a very sore chest, and some very impressive bruising. Mr H. escaped with some cuts around his eye, and a damaged intercostal muscle in his ribs which will take a few weeks to heal.
Some check up X-rays a few days later showed the IM nail was 'telescoping' so I needed a 2nd operation to refix it, which set me back a couple of days.
After 2 weeks in hospital, during which I learned to use crutches (another first!), they said I was fit to go home. Mr H. is luckily in between finishing his degree and starting his new job in Scotland, and his new boss has been very understanding; so he is at home full time to look after me. He had set up a sofa-bed in the sitting room, and we have a downstairs bathroom, so I do not have to worry about stairs at home. I have named my corner 'Base Camp' and it is my haven of peace, books, computer and chocolate.
Photos of our VW Transporter after the crash