Bill Marriott reflects on his life-changing experience after an unfortunate fall on some ice while walking his dog, and contracting Covid while in hospital. Bill talks about cherishing life and his determination to succeed. He tells us: “OCR and CIE have done a magnificent job in looking after the interests of students and assessors, and for that, we should all be eternally grateful”.
December 30 2020: a date that will be etched in my memory forever. A sleet storm the night before followed by a sharp frost meant compacted ice. This did not deter our dog, Daisy, from needing her early morning constitutional. My wife and I drove off to one of Daisy’s favourite places – a community woodland site where former slag heaps are being replaced by trees, greenery and footpaths thanks to a team of volunteers. Such sites are becoming common in the former coalfield areas of North Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and the North East.
We kept to the grass, where the ice was easier underfoot. To get to the car park, there was just one downhill path to cross. Instantly, my feet slipped from under me. The result was a tumble and I could not get up.
My wife rang for an ambulance which finally arrived over an hour later. I was given morphine and taken to Accident and Emergency. On arrival, I was mildly hypothermic, I’d suffered a minor brain bleed and had endured a slight contusion in my left lung. I had multiple fractures: patella, femur and hip in the right leg, and elbow and shoulder in the right arm. The fact that I am right-handed compounded the issue.
I stayed in A&E for a few days. An orthopaedic surgeon inserted a pin between my patella and hip, and my arm was placed in a sling to help the bones to knit together naturally. The operation was to be performed under a local spinal anaesthetic. But as soon as the surgeon made the first incision, I knew the anaesthetic had not been effective. A quick decision was made to give me a general anaesthetic.
During the surgery I lost five units of blood. I felt like my life was draining away. In an orthopaedic ward, I was given blood transfusions, which took time, as matching blood types had to be found. I struggled to eat which turned out to be the result of a significant gastric bleed. Endoscopy revealed a large duodenal ulcer which had severed a vein. The vein was subsequently stapled together after further surgery and the loss of another unit of blood.
The ulcer had apparently been caused by the combination of medications that I’d been prescribed. Further drugs were given to protect the lining of my stomach and break the ulcer down. Strong pain relief disturbs the mind. I was then diagnosed as being Covid positive and I lost the will to live. Mentally, I prepared the words for my funeral. The resulting anxiety and fear kept me awake at night.
I was transferred to a local rehabilitation centre, but I was too ill for such a move at that time. Greater independence was expected but I could not feed, wash or dress myself. After less than two days, much to my dismay, I was sent back to the general hospital. Gradually, my physical strength began to return, but the old anxieties still remained. I was prescribed anti-depressants, but I preferred to work with a counsellor to try and mend my broken spirit. On 21 February 2021, I returned to the rehabilitation centre and eventually, on 2 April, I was discharged and instructed to continue my recovery at home.
It’s from home that I am writing this account. During my arduous journey, I have visited:
Some journey! The ulcer has gone, as has the sling. I have started to become mobile (with assistance). Fitness is no longer a distant dream. Several factors have played a part:
I intend to return to work for three years before enjoying my retirement with my friends and family and our beloved Daisy. I pledge to keep my weight down having lost two and a half stones during this time. I want to become a better person. I will stop thinking of myself all the time and consider the efforts and contributions of others. Life is a team effort: we need to cherish it.
Bill has a degree in History from Leicester University and was a history teacher for over 30 years. He has worked as an examiner since taking early retirement in 2013, first for East Midland Regional Examinations Board and then for OCR. He has also been a Team Leader and Principal Examiner. He would like to continue examining for as long as possible, as he finds it mentally stimulating and finds it sharpens his understanding of history syllabuses.