In a previous life Alison was an Astro Physicist working in research, before deciding to make a career change and start her own landscape design and build business.

The next 10 years were difficult for Alison, she was diagnosed with Osteoporosis and her mother was diagnosed with cancer and then Alzheimers. Alison was just coming to terms with this and her mother moving into a nursing home when she was involved in an accident on November 18th 2018.

Alison was walking home from the shops and was hit by a van. She was run over and stuck underneath the van.

“I remember regaining consciousness underneath the van and thinking ‘have I died?’”

“I was taken to the Trauma Centre at James Cook hospital. Within a short time of being in the hospital the consultant told me they would have to amputate my leg to save my life. Some of the skin from my amputated leg was used to make a skin graft for my remaining leg so that is my souvenir of my old leg. They also had to perform skin grafts on my right hand so took this from my remaining leg.”

Alison survived this surgery but unfortunately contracted a chest infection, which the consultants thought she may not survive. Alison remarkably recovered and then contracted a skin infection in her right arm where she had the skin grafts.

She survived all of this and amazingly was discharged home 2 months after the accident with some kit and some carers!

Whilst in hospital, Alison contacted Irwin Mitchell in Newcastle and was introduced to her serious injury solicitors, Fran Mayes and Laura Mcilduff.

“As soon as I met them, I felt comfortable with them. I had never been in this situation before but I felt I could trust them. They have always treated me as an individual and not just another case. I know they will do their very best to get me the best settlement to make sure the rest of my life is the best it can now be. They speak to me regularly and I can always phone them. They keep me up to date and explain everything. They always ask how I am and there is a human touch I didn’t associate with solicitors before this experience with Irwin Mitchell.”

Alison was also introduced to 3 Case Managers and decided to use Abbie Udall of Abbie Udall Associates. “She had a lot of experience but was very down to earth, I thought I would get on well with her and I knew she would do a good job.”

Abbie arranged for private therapists to visit Alison at home. They provided (and continue to provide) Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Dietetics in Alison’s home. They also arranged for specialist equipment Alison needed to be ordered.

Irwin Mitchell arranged for specialist architects PH Partnership Architects to survey Alison’s house and garden, as she didn’t want to move to a new property following the accident and despite the property currently being unsuitable for her needs. With her experience, Alison is now helping design the new accessible garden.

“I am lucky, it is a big bungalow with a big garden and my mum is living in a nursing home at the end of the road. I have lived in the bungalow since I was 4 years old!”

Alison’s case manager Abbie introduced Alison to Blatchford and an assessment was booked at STEPS to decide if it would be possible to fit her with a prosthetic leg following a 4 week period of rehabilitation. It was evident after only a few weeks that a prosthetic leg was looking very possible.

STEPS Rehabilitation

When Alison first visited STEPS, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Having returned home following her accident, she wasn’t keen on being a residential client in anywhere that was like a nursing home. She was very surprised and pleased to find it was, in her words, “like an amazing hotel with a gym full of therapists!”

Can you describe your experience at STEPS?

“Everyone is so friendly, and all know who I am, it has all been spot on! The physiotherapy has been great, and I have had different therapies I didn’t even know existed, Neurologic music therapy, wheelchair dance. In NMT I did a lot of balance work and I worked on my right hand by playing the piano that has really helped and has also been great fun. Hydrotherapy was brilliant, I really loved it. Therapy like this makes getting better fun and I have actually really enjoyed it all. Wheelchair salsa was just brilliant, we used the parallel bars for me, and it was particularly fun when we danced to Agadoo! The care here is spot on; there is nothing that is too much trouble. While I was at STEPS they even organised for me to visit the Chatsworth flower show.”

Food at STEPS

“I have a very strange diet at home, but the chefs have made me anything I have asked them to. Mushy peas and tomato sandwich and a baked potato skin loaded with poached eggs have been two of my requests and they were delicious! Nothing was too much trouble.”

Your advice to future STEPS clients

There is no need to worry, and no matter what you are like and how quirky you are, they will fit in around you.”

What next for Alison?

Alison has now had her first trial of her first prosthetic leg and is exploring the possibility of Osseointegration. She is currently attending outpatient appointments at STEPS. It is hoped that her bungalow and garden will have the necessary adaptions carried out shortly and this will enable Alison to live as independently as possible and in the home that she loves.

“This is not a situation I would have chosen to be in, but I can’t get out of it and it and I am going to continue to grab all the opportunities being given to me. I obviously wouldn’t have chosen to lose my leg, but I have found out what a good group of friends I have. They have all rallied round and helped me. I made a bucket list in hospital and it keeps getting longer!”

A few things from Alison’s bucket list:

  • The Great North Run in her wheelchair or with her new leg
  • To have tea at the Ritz
  • Travel to Japan and Thailand
  • Go on a Safari
  • Abseiling