Road traffic accident: Vic and Tom

Vic’s grandson Tom was involved in a road traffic accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. His injury meant he was unable to walk at first.

Published: April 2012.
Vic and Tom together

When it happened

“The police knocked on the door of my flat looking for my daughter because we were all there having Sunday lunch. They said Tom had been involved in a major accident and they weren’t sure he was going to survive. We couldn’t see Tom at the hospital at first because he had been so severely injured. The doctors came to see us in the early evening and said they’d done as much as they could and that we should be prepared for the worst. They said we could see him then, but that was very difficult. He hadn’t been Christened, so we decided to do it at the bedside with the hospital chaplain. He was unconscious for about ten weeks, and we really were expecting the worst. You just never think that a relation of yours is going to end up in a situation like that. But then one day his nose started twitching. After that day, he started to get better very gradually. It took a long time, but after a while he started using his mobile phone again!”
 

Rehabilitation

“Tom made a lot of progress in rehabilitation. He’s very determined. He wasn’t always like that – he’s always been independent, but he’d been quiet. But he really wanted to do well when he was in rehabilitation. He didn’t like using a wheelchair or the standing frames, but he got on with it and started to get better at moving around. Then he gradually started making his first steps and from then on he just progressed. The families at the centre all got on really well, which helped a lot. I still see some of the other parents even though Tom has left.”
 

Being a grandfather

“You find yourself worrying about all three generations, really. I worried about my wife because I was at the rehabilitation centre five days a week. You worry about the other grandchildren and how they’re going to be helped out. I felt a bit schizophrenic ... I was always thinking about what we could do for Tom and then thinking: ‘I’m neglecting everybody else’. There is an ongoing legal case which I’m looking after. I think my daughter’s suffering with it all a bit. Acquired brain injury can be a hard thing to explain to people. They would ask what I meant, and I would say that before Tom’s accident, he was 17 and doing his thing at college like the other people his age. But he’s been in an accident that has made things harder for him.”
 

Moving towards adulthood

“Tom’s 18 now, and he’s at a specialist centre for adults. I think he found it hard to adjust when he first went there, because there aren’t so many carers and it’s very different. But he’s determined, and he’s trying hard. He’s getting more independent. Tom has also been working with children with disabilities. He plays games with them and helps out, which he really likes. He’s thinking about it as a possible career.”
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