Stuart Jones continues the story in his own words about the day his life completely changed.
The day that changed my life was Jan 16 2014.
What I know about that day, and for the next 4 days of my life, I only know from what has been told to me. The following is what has been told to me.
I consider myself very lucky in a lot of ways. I don’t remember my accident, nor do I remember the 5 days I spent in intensive care at the Newcastle hospital. Given this fact I do not suffer any PTSD or traumatic thoughts about what happened to me. I have been asked many times since about whether I am worried about riding on the road. Maybe if I had traumatic memories associated with my accident, I might have concerns with respect to riding on the road, but given I don’t, I’m not.
Secondly, given what occurred to me, I should have died that morning.
As mentioned previously I used GoPro cameras to record my rides. The one on my helmet got crushed/destroyed completely but the one under my seat survived. It was this camera that told how my accident happened.
I hit a car that had been pulled over the night before by the police for being unregistered. It had been left in the breakdown/cycling lane. It seems that I saw the vehicle at the last minute, tried to swerve but ended up hitting the right rear of the car and due to this was thrown onto the road. An accident expert calculated that the vehicle that went over the top of me, a Toyota Landcruiser, did so at 80-85 kilometres an hour.
The camera showed that my bike got dragged along the road for a few hundred metres before the 4wd came to a stop. The bike frame was made of titanium and you could hear the screeching of metal against bitumen in the footage. My luck prevailed due to the fact that despite wearing shoes that clipped into the pedals, I wasn’t dragged along with the bike. In essence, my body was simply treated like a speed hump.
The Highway Patrol officer who was first on the scene initially thought I was dead due to the amount of blood flowing from my head. I supposedly started talking to him after a couple of minutes of him being there.
Luck was on my side again it seemed as the paramedics who turned up recognised from how I was breathing that I had suffered a spinal cord injury and treated me accordingly.
My partner found out about my accident through neighbours. One of our neighbours was caught up in the resulting morning traffic chaos and recognised that it was me on the road when he slowly drove past the accident scene. He knew my partner was out horse riding with his wife that morning and tried ringing them, but to no avail. He got onto someone else and they rushed to where the horse riding was happening and told my partner.
My partner immediately rushed to the Newcastle Hospital. On getting to the emergency department and seeing me talking, she thought I was going to be alright. These thoughts changed very quickly when a doctor took her into a room and informed her of my injuries. That I had suffered a spinal cord injury, torn tendons in my left hand and a skull fracture and that part of the skull was pressing on an artery. The doctor made the comment that this was a “life changing event”. She was told to expect the worse, that I may die, due to the seriousness of the impact of the skull fracture on the artery. This was told to her at 9:30am roughly and it wasn’t until that night, around 9pm, that she was told that I would live.
During that period of time, as I had no idea of the seriousness of the situation I was in, I supposedly was talking about going racing that weekend and I was asking my partner why she was crying. As she didn’t want to upset me at the time, she never told me that I might die as a result of my injuries.
I was also visited by the neurosurgeon who was going to work on my neck. He supposedly got upset when I asked him if he was any good. Looking back, I think my question was a valid one given the ramifications to me if he stuffed up.
As well as dealing with the immediate situation in the hospital, my partner had the task of trying to contact my family and inform them.
At the time of the accident, I had not spoken to my oldest son for two years due to a falling out we had had. Through Facebook messenger she got in contact with him and informed him that there was a possibility I may die. He was in Mexico at the time on a holiday. As a result of the accident, we have reconnected and have a stronger relationship than ever before. I will always be grateful that I had the accident for the sole reason that it brought my son and I back together. We are both stubborn pig-headed males and I am not sure how many years we would have wasted not being in each other’s lives had it not been for my accident. For this fact alone, I will always be grateful that my accident occurred.
The next day I was in theatre being worked on by both a neurosurgeon and an orthopaedic surgeon as I had suffered a spinal cord injury at the c5/c6 level and three of my fingers on my left hand had been sliced to the bone. After the surgery, the neurosurgeon told my partner that I would have a good quality of life. Her reply to that statement was “so he will walk again”. The neurosurgeon came back with “no, he will never walk again”. This of course sent shock waves through her and the comment by the doctor about it being a life changing event was suddenly very evident.
The first recollection that I personally have in regard to this life changing event is on the fifth day after the accident. It was when I was being loaded into a van to be transported to the Royal North Shore Hospital spinal cord unit. I do not remember the trip itself, just being loaded into the van and then the actual arrival and being wheeled through corridors.
An addition to this life changing day was that on the same day, a great uncle of mine passed away. I only found out about his passing a week or so after the fact. It hit me hard at the time as I was unable to attend his funeral. I have great memories of my great uncle and aunt being in my life as I grew up. Both mean a lot to me. My mother later told me that whilst he had medical issues, none of them were life threatening nor did he show any signs of dying leading up to the fateful day. My great uncle and aunt were also only a couple months short of celebrating 65 years being married at the time of his passing. It might sound strange or even wrong to some, but I am now of the firm belief and will always hold the belief that he traded his life for mine. I say this because by all reports, I should have died that day and given my great uncle showed no indications leading up to his death, it is the only conclusion that I can come to as why I lived that day and he died the same day. My great aunt is still living, about to turn 95 as I write this, and I love her dearly.