Blackspots: I chose to live
Blackspots: The real toll of NZ's roads
On December 3, 2010 at approximately 3.30pm on a beautiful summer's day my life changed forever.
I was riding my motorcycle home when an 18-year-old girl in a stolen car crossed the centre line and hit me head on with a combined force of over 120kph.
I saw her coming. You always think you will have time to avoid any crash - "I'm a good rider, I won't get hit ...".
Wham. There were three hits - the bumper, the windshield then the ground. I landed on my back, sat up and looked at my right leg, which was no longer attached to my body. I screamed and screamed for help. My femoral artery was flowing blood like a hose. I knew that in a few minutes I would be dead.
I didn't want to die, not then, not in a ditch on the side of the road, so I stopped screaming and started relaying instructions to the people gathered around me.
I told them to get a belt to tie off my leg to stop the blood. Once tied off, I tried to control my breathing tried to calm down. Both my wrists were broken, my left leg was shattered beyond belief, my right leg was gone above the knee. I knew I was in bad shape.
I knew the outcome, I had served 16 years in the New Zealand Fire Service. I had seen people die from injuries less severe than what I had.
I knew I had to talk to my fiancee. She works in the New Zealand Fire Service Communication Department (111).
My cellphone would no longer turn on, someone used their own phone.
I was so hot ... the sun was intense and I was dying.
I got a hold of her and told her, "I have been hit, I've lost my right leg ... its gone ...".
I told her the helicopter is coming for me and for her to meet me at hospital, I told her how sorry I was, I told her I loved her and then apologised for not being able to dance with her at our upcoming wedding.
I decided there and then that I would live.
Fate was with me on that day. I had quick-thinking people at the scene who didn't mind doing the gross stuff. The Westpac chopper was in the area with the head of the trauma team on board. I am very thankful to all who helped in my survival, I can never thank them enough.
I spent 43 days in hospital, four days of that in ICU in and out of a drug haze. I remember 99 per cent of what happened to me, but ICU is a little blurry.
I am a right above-knee amputee and can walk well, although every day since I got hit has been one with both physical and phantom pain.
I am still employed in the NZFS and am very thankful that they retained me (albeit in a different role than rescuer). I still ride motorbikes.
I was married on the February 22, 2011 to my beautiful Canadian wife and we have travelled all over the world since.
Life did not end on December 3, 2010, it just took a different path and I could do one of two things - get busy living, or get busy dying. I chose to live and have never looked back.
I want to thank my family, workplace and friends for all their support ... and a huge thank you to my wife, who has seen and done things no person should ever have to see and do for their partner. She is a rock and stronger than any person I have ever met, I would be very lost without her.
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