Mark’s Experiences

By: Mark Story

My accident happened on the 18th June 1965, I was 12 yrs and 11 months old, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was trapped in a room with exploding 5 gallon drums of highly inflammable chemical, then the bulk of the stored chemical exploded as one, blew me clear out of the roof and I landed in the field behind, not a good landing, broke both my ankles. The ambulance and the fire brigade did not find me; it was a police officer checking the perimeter an hour later. I was taken to the local hospital, they did not have the facilities to deal with me and arrange for me to be transferred to a hospital 70 miles away, I was not expected to last the trip. My dad, he was in the Royal Navy and was at sea. The Navy flew him down from Scotland by helicopter and he went with me; he only visited me a few times after that.

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Translations

I spent 4 weeks in intensive care, had 2 nurses looking after me 24x7, died once and came back, no one could explain that to me, my surgeon, sometime later said, it just wasn't my time to go. My mother moved into the hospital for that month, I couldn't speak to her or even see her, my eyes had been damaged and I had burnt the inside of my mouth, throat and lungs. Losing my legs does not come close to losing my sight. That first month is a bit vague because of all the drugs, I can remember lying in bed and touching my legs and having chunks of flesh coming away in my hands.

The hospital is in Wiltshire just outside Salisbury and was called Odstock. 1942 it was built on a hill to the north of Odstock Village there was an Emergency Medical Services hospital built. In 1943 the US 5th Army Medical Corps took over to provide support for the Normandy landings. The wards were brick and concrete and all single story, they were spread out over a vast area and connected by covered (roof only) walkways.

The day I moved from that room, the room where I had fought the devil in the fires of hell for what seemed an eternity for the right to be here. It was the smell of fresh air, it almost knocked me out and is etched in my memory. I also had had enough morphine to knock an elephant out to help cope with the transfer.

I spent every school and college holiday in hospital; it was Christmas 1970, gone in to have work done on my legs. I was in a new ward, purpose built for burns patients single or double rooms with on suite bathrooms and televisions and floor to ceiling one-way windows overlooking the countryside. I was getting changed and caught my reflection in the window it was the first time I had seen myself naked. I had seen most of myself but only in sections this was the first time I had seen the whole picture, all I saw looking back at me was this grotesque thing if it wasn't for the timely intervention of a nurse doing her rounds I would have done myself in. I still have dark days, mainly when the infections take over and I'm laid in bed glowing bright red. My wife and kids have put meaning into my life and that's what keeps me going.

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After I came out of hospital in 1970/71, my GP arranged for a social services panel to assess me. I turned up and sat in front of seven people, a mixture of doctors and social workers. I was interviewed but I drew the line at stripping off so they could see for themselves, they proclaimed me to be severely disabled, didn't offer any sort of advice or support and in so many words told me I was good for nothing. I exploded, I hadn't gone thru 4yrs of physio hell getting my body straight and walking without a limp just to be told I wasn't good for anything. I walked out; I have never gone back to them.

I went out and proved to myself that I could do anything I wanted and I did, I have always found solutions to every obstacle. I know how short life can be, and that has changed my perspective on life.

In 2005 I started to go down with continuous infections in the legs followed by ulcers, it became unmanageable and I had to stop work. Christmas 2005 was probably the worst days of my life, I really don't remember any of it.

The surgeon explained that my blood had stopped going into my legs and they were now rotting on the inside, because of all the burn damage/ previous repairs they could not be repaired again. He wasn't sure how much of my legs were damaged and they would start below the knees and work up the legs. Fortunately, it was a bilateral below knee amputation. For the first time in years I feel fit and healthy, I went back to full time work 3months later.

Because of the burn damage to my legs, my nice (very basic NHS) shiny new legs cut my stumps to ribbons. I was wheelchair bound for 6 months while my stumps healed. I went back to wearing my prosthetic limbs.

I wasn't sure if adding the following added anything. I have decided it is my story/journey and have updated.

I can no long wear prosthetics as they were causing a lot of damage to my limbs I'm now a permanent wheelchair user.

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