For as long as I can remember, rugby was my identity. Those formative years were the best of my life. The training, the fitness, the physicality, the camaraderie. I just loved it. I played for England juniors, and then semi-professionally in the U.S. and back home in Bristol, right up until the accident.
I was sat on the back of my friend’s car, with the boot open and my leg hanging down. The car behind lurched forward, and that was it. In a moment, my identity and my former life – playing rugby and working the doors – was gone.
Remarkably not a single bone was broken, and it meant I was dismissed with severe swelling. It was not until the sixth weekly check-up that they noticed something was wrong. I had Compartment Syndrome, and the next day they removed a cavity that ran the length of my leg. What followed was four operations, and three bouts of sepsis, the final of which nearly took my life.
My biggest challenge though was the shadow it cast. I had my family in my corner, but I lost a lot of friends. I couldn’t show up like I used to, and they faded away. I could not exercise, and I developed massive body dysmorphia. I really couldn’t stand myself.
There were many dark days. You find yourself searching for the slightest gap in the clouds. Something to hold onto. One such gap was the day that I got a video call from Lois and Ed to say that I had been accepted. It gave me hope. I knew then, that for three years, I was a part of something. Connected with like-minded people. People who had gone through far worse than me, and still they found a way. It is inspiring. If they can do it, then so can I.
My old fitness coach in Bristol believes in me. He told me that we could get back to where I was before, and we have set to work. The gym was always my ‘get out.’ After a bad night on the doors, or a disappointment on the pitch, I could process it through exercise. Having that back in my life has been another gap in the clouds. Adding to this sense that things are beginning to change.
Through it all, the one thing I was never going to do was let my son down. He is nine years old, and already this accident has cost him too much. I missed his first day at school and his sports day. We haven’t kicked a football or gone on holiday together. But we will do these things. We will go to Legoland, as I promised him and as he always talks about.
I hope that he understands. I think he does. He often says to me, ‘when you are better, Daddy.’ That thought keeps me going.Back to Beneficiary Stories