Everyday spasms become a matter of life or death . . .

Niall Strawson

Niall Strawson

First published in News

Sometimes as a columnist it’s hard to think of things to write about as life plods on, but this week I have quite the story for you.

Let me set the scene. It was Saturday night and I had been at a friend’s house for a party. The party was at Folly Bridge by the riverside. It was very cute with all the boats docked and the moonlight bouncing off the water. Sadly as the evening panned out it was just the moonlight that bounced off the water. Yes I fell in the river.

After the party ended I sat adjacent to the dock about two feet from the edge with a friend and whilst we were chatting I had a violent leg spasm. These do happen quite frequently and are out of my control. It would be similar to a jolt you might get, but in my case all my muscles go stiff in whatever position they choose.

On this occasion it meant I lost my balance and I tipped out of my chair.

Normally when this happens I can catch myself or just land in a heap on the floor, but on this occasion I fell out and slid off the edge dropping about six feet into the river. My friend tried to grab me and broke my fall somewhat but there I was in the river. Luckily I landed on a submerged jetty and thankfully was sitting in only about two or three inches of water. I was definitely wet, but I wasn’t swimming.

Despite some mild panic from my friend, I calmly called 999.

They asked me: ‘Which service?’.

I said: ‘I’m not sure.’ She said: ‘I think I’ll send all three.’ All three arrived and lots of them.

A very lovely policeman came down to the river’s edge and sat with me, then his colleague looked after my friend, then 15 firefighters turned up, emergency lighting was erected and the paramedics came down. After 40 minutes of deciding that I was ok to be moved they eventually managed to winch me out on a stretcher. I was put into an ambulance and whisked off to the JR as my core temperature had dropped to 32 degrees. At 11am the next day I was released from hospital where I promptly went to bed to get warm and catch up on the missed sleep.

Firstly, I need to thank all the emergency services for being so prompt and so calm. I feel really embarrassed about what happened to me, but on reflection I guess when you fall in the river it is truly the time to call on 999, especially if you are paralysed.

Secondly, I need to thank my friend who broke my fall and stayed by my bedside throughout the night. If he wasn’t there the story might be quite different.

It’s odd that the spasms I live with day and day out can go from an irritation and a part of life to being a situation that is dangerous and requires 20 people to fix me up.

Comments (1)

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9:53pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Miss Cynical says...

What a terrifying experience. I am really glad he was OK.

I hope it's not patronising to say that this makes me realise how lucky I am to be able bodied and healthy.

I enjoy reading Niall's articles. He's not looking for sympathy, just raising awareness of the challenges faced by disabled people.
What a terrifying experience. I am really glad he was OK. I hope it's not patronising to say that this makes me realise how lucky I am to be able bodied and healthy. I enjoy reading Niall's articles. He's not looking for sympathy, just raising awareness of the challenges faced by disabled people. Miss Cynical
  • Score: 3

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