IIn October 2020, I was doing a little DIY at home in Scarborough. My divorce had been finalized a week earlier, but my ex-husband still lived in our three-story house, which we also shared with our seven-year-old daughter. He was due to move in in four days. I was having a hard time emotionally and took care of decorating a bit.
He was on the top floor, in the hallway, moistening the walls to try to scrape off the wallpaper. The heat from the steam sounded the fire alarm. I went up to the fifth rung of the ladder to put tape on it; I had done it before successfully, but this time I slipped and fell back five feet to the ground.
I landed in a box that my ex-husband had packed to take away. He had taken apart a shoe rack and there were metal posts in the box. I felt a sharp stab and extreme pain on the left side of my back, so I screamed for help. I knew I had been impaled, but I couldn’t bring myself to see how bad I was. When my ex-husband ran up the stairs and saw me, I could tell by his expression that he was not well.
He called 999 while I was sitting there, not daring to move or look down. I have a strong Christian faith and as I waited for paramedics, I whispered over and over, “Please God don’t let me die.” In my panic, it felt like they took forever to arrive, although I guess it wasn’t long.
I still refused to look at the injury, but when the paramedics started talking about airlifting me to the hospital, I realized it must be serious. In the end, they decided against it and asked me if I could walk to the ambulance as they couldn’t carry me on a stretcher due to the narrow corridors in the house.
They covered me with a coat, for which I was thankful as it meant my daughter didn’t see the rod sticking out of my back. She was worried and knew something bad had happened, but didn’t know the details. They took me to my local hospital, but I needed specialized surgery, so I was transferred to another in Hull. At that time, the rod had been inside me for seven hours. All he could think about was how much he needed the bathroom. The doctors didn’t want me to move too much.
They operated on me for a couple of hours under general anesthesia. Later, the surgeon said how lucky I had been: the bar had sunk eight inches into my body and it had failed two inches in my heart. They gave me the X-ray, but I couldn’t look at it until a few days later. It was only then, when I finally examined it, that I realized how miraculous it was that the post had failed in all my major organs.
We were in the middle of the lockdown, so no one could visit me while I recovered in the hospital. Surprisingly, he was back home 48 hours later. It had been difficult for my daughter as she knew she had hurt me. He had a fractured rib and many tight spots. It took me seven weeks to recover, and my ribs were still sore three months later. From time to time I have a bit of stiffness on my left side, but other than that I have had no persistent health problems.
While I was in the hospital, my ex-husband finished the decoration. When I got home, the box of metal posts was still there. I got rid of it because I didn’t want the reminder. The accident hasn’t put me off DIY, but you won’t find me climbing stairs.
I try not to think too much about what might have happened. I shared my story with the local newspaper and appeared on television. I had downplayed the accident to my family as they live in the South, so once they saw the scope of what had happened on TV, they were shocked and angry.
However, one of the positives of the accident was seeing my local community and neighbors join me. My best friend invited everyone at her church and a few other friends to rotate so they could bring me tea every night for two weeks. I also received many flowers and gifts. I’ve always been a positive person, but now I’m even more grateful for everything. The experience has given me a bit of confidence and I feel almost invincible.
As told to Amy Sedghi
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism