HEALTH: One day I’m cycling 100 miles a week and the next I have to learn to walk again

‘I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me’: man badly injured in cycle crash thanks NHSGGC teams for care and support

Tom Walsh was out cycling  when the accident happened.

By Lucy Ashton

A man who sustained serious leg injuries in a cycling accident has thanked NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde staff for the care he has received as he works his way back to health.

Tom Walsh, from Paisley, was out cycling in the town in November last year when the accident happened. He suffered multiple fractures of his right lower leg and was rushed to nearby Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“I’d suffered one of the worst fractures you can have in the lower part of the knee,” said Tom, “and when I arrived in hospital I was in a pretty bad way. They took me into the resuscitation area and I was given multiple X-rays and scans of my head and neck.

“I was in hospital for four days as the surgeons waited to operate on my leg, but the swelling was so bad that it was more than a week before they could perform the reconstruction surgery.”

Retired healthcare manager and nurse Tom, 59, has always been fit and healthy, and before the accident he cycled four or five times a week as well as taking regular walks with his wife Ruth. However, from the moment the extent of the injuries became apparent in hospital it was made clear to him that he had suffered a life-changing injury.

“Their assessment was positive, but realistic, and I’m really glad for that. Nobody talked about a full recovery back to the way I was before – but they said that with a lot of work and determination I could be active again,” said Tom. “Their honesty and professionalism is something I’ll always remember.”

In fact Tom has nothing but good things to say about all the RAH staff who took care of him in those early days, and who have worked so hard with him on his rehabilitation.

“I don’t know everybody’s name,” he said, “but I would like to say thank you to all of them. There has been no aspect of my care I could fault – and that’s with my experience as a nurse. My wife is a nurse too, and she feels the same.”

He did, however, want to make two special mentions.

“Mr Juned Ansari, the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on my leg – I credit him for the fact I am where I am today. It was a very complex fracture, and he and his team used metal plates and screws to put my fractures together again. I will always be grateful.

“And the senior charge nurse and the entire staff at the fracture clinic. They have been so professional, helpful and friendly during more than a dozen visits – an absolute credit and the perfect example of what you would want the NHS to be.

“My previous fitness has definitely stood me in good stead, and I’m working to get better, but the encouragement of the teams has been critical to that.”

Tom’s care is ongoing, and he still has regular physiotherapy sessions with the Musculoskeletal (MSK) team. He knows he’ll not be able to cycle again, and he’s not quite as quick around the house, or when he’s out for a walk with his wife, as he used to be.

But he’s working at it, and he’s determined to stay fit and exercise.

“I’ve taken up kayaking again,” he said. “I used to do it when I was younger, so it’s great to be back on the water. I’ve also bought a little boat on Loch Awe, which is lovely.”

Looking back on what has happened to him over the past five months, and thinking ahead to the future, Tom has a simple message.

“When you suffer an injury like this, it’s a huge amount to take in. One day I’m cycling 100 miles a week and the next I have to learn to walk again and find new sports. It does have a huge impact on your life.

“But I’ll keep working hard and keep improving, and I’ll keep looking forward. Without the fantastic care I’ve received from the teams at the RAH, I’m not sure where I would have been.

“All I can say to them all is thank you. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.”

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