The marathon recovery that led to a sprint!

On the morning of 13th April 2017, Michèle Perkins left her home in Crantock to drive to Truro where she was working as a psychotherapist at the NHS’ BeMe office in Truro.
During the journey Michèle’s car was hit by a lorry, with devastating results, leaving her with serious injuries. Now, less than two years later, and after months in a wheelchair and on crutches, she is preparing to run in this year’s London Marathon. Michèle shared her inspiring story with me;

“After the crash I have no memory of what happened next. In amongst the blur of the sound of emergency sirens and a helicopter, I was aware of people speaking to me (I later discovered that they knew my name as I was wearing my NHS staff ID badge). The process to remove me from my car was traumatic and painful. Once out I realised that I couldn’t move my legs at all, so I thought I may be paralysed.

I was taken straight to RCH. I passed out as we entered A&E, creating major concern about my injuries. I was immediately given an MRI scan, showing that I had fractured my pelvis in three places.

The standard of care at RCHT was excellent; there was no waiting at all. Nursing care was amazing; with staff even taking time to diplomatically protect my dignity and privacy from well-meaning, but ill- timed visitors! Before becoming a psychotherapist I was a Staff Nurse in A&E, so I am very aware of levels of care.

As a runner with a good level of fitness, the decision was quickly made to transfer me to Derriford’s specialist trauma unit for surgery to repair my pelvis. Once there, and with my husband and family by my side, the nursing staff were wonderful, helping and comforting me through the dramatic physical and psychological effects I experienced because of the trauma. They were also able to get my unbearable pain under control whilst I endured waiting a few days for surgery. The prospect of surgery was daunting, but courtesy of my exceptional consultant, Mr Saunders, it was successful. Two of my fractures were pinned back into place, and just a few days later I was transferred back to Cornwall to St Michaels Hospital.

The care at St Michaels was just so attentive– exceptional. I was unable to walk more than a couple of steps, so the Nurses helped me with showering, dried my hair; one even did a manicure for me! All the very small things that make a lot of difference. The staff all had time for me and provided really personal care. My family and friends were able to visit without travelling such a distance, plus I had a sea view! By this stage I had lost a stone in weight, so the good food they provided was helpful, even allowing me to add in some of my own food as I am a vegetarian. All of these things made a huge difference to my recovery.

“Staff at St Michael’s were so attentive and kind. I commented that I loved the smell of the perfume worn by a nurse on night duty. The next day she arrived with the bottle and sprayed it all over me!”

Two weeks later I was discharged. I spent ten weeks in a wheelchair, then onto crutches. Around sixteen weeks later I started l walking, which was a very slow and painful process. Encouraged by my consultant, I was eventually able to run a few steps, very slowly, for about 30 seconds at a time along the beach. I gradually increased the amount of walking and running I could do and by September I was able to run for three miles. It was at this point I set myself a challenge and made the decision to run in the London Marathon in 2018.

I applied for charity place for the NSPCC and was very pleased to be accepted to run for them. My work as a psychotherapist frequently involves working with victims of child abuse, so being offered a place to run for the NSPCC was a perfect fit for me. My daughter Charlotte and other friends are running too; so with my place secured, fundraising and my training programme began. By early March I was running for 20 miles, despite weeks of rain and difficult conditions.

“I encounter child abuse and the impact it has every day. The NSPCC tackles this terrible issue. Running the London marathon allows me give something back to an amazing organisation.”

I have to fit my training in around my work as a psychotherapist, which makes for a very busy life! I am an accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Psychotherapist, working with people suffering from trauma, abuse, anxiety and depression. As well as running my private practice Clarity CBT, I also see patients referred to me by RCHT’s Occupational Health department.

As I continue to juggle work with the final weeks of my training, I find myself looking forward to April 22nd, the day of the London Marathon. It’s going to be quite a day – wish me luck!”

To contact Michèle at CLARITY CBT: michele.perkins@live.co.uk

To donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michele-perkins

Added on March 23, 2018, in News - Patient Experience