Mum Champions Daughter’s Inspiring Recovery After Accident
A loving mum who developed post traumatic stress disorder after seeing her teenage daughter seriously injured in an accident has called for greater road safety awareness to prevent other families suffering the devastating consequences that traffic accidents can have.
In August 2009, Shirley Holmes, of Fritchley in Derbyshire, suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when her daughter Paige was knocked over by a driver on a narrow country lane just five minutes from home.
Paige suffered such traumatic head injuries that doctors at Sheffield Children’s Hospital didn’t know if she would survive and Shirley and Paige’s dad Ali were given the heartbreaking decision whether to turn off her life support machine. But they refused to give up on their daughter and Paige, now 16, has learnt to walk and talk again and is back at college studying beauty therapy.
Since the accident Shirley has suffered debilitating bouts of depression and post traumatic stress disorder after trying to come to terms with the devastating aftermath of the accident.
Paige’s family have now joined forces with special injury lawyers at law firm Irwin Mitchell to raise awareness of the devastating consequences road accidents can have, not just on the victims, but on whole family networks, during Road Safety Week, which is run by national charity Brake from 19 to 25 November 2012.
Lawyers at the firm’s Sheffield office are working with the whole family to help them get access to the treatment, rehabilitation and support they need, including the therapy Shirley needs to overcome the psychological scars they have suffered seeing Paige so critically ill.
Nicola Meese, from Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office representing Shirley, said: “At Irwin Mitchell we see the devastating consequences road accidents have not just on victims, but also whole families who have to come to terms with caring for their loved ones and helping them recover from the injuries they have sustained.
“The Holmes family never gave up on Paige but it has been very difficult for them, particularly Shirley who has suffered serious psychological injuries trying to cope with the family’s life being turned upside down.
“The case highlights the impact road accidents can have and we hope it will encourage motorists to be extra vigilant on the roads so that other families don’t have to go through such traumatic circumstances.”
Shirley says Paige’s accident completely turned the whole family’s life upside down as they tried to come to terms with the terrible brain injuries she had sustained and strived to care for her 24-hours a day.
Shirley moved into the Treetops family suites at Sheffield Children’s Hospital immediately after the accident and didn’t return home for three months so she could be closer to her daughter. Shirley’s mum Marilyn moved into the family home to care for the couple’s two other children Jack, 14, and Nadia, 22, while Ali split his time between the hospital and home.
The strain of being away from home put pressure on the family and meant that she also couldn’t spend time with Jack and Nadia to help them come to terms with Paige’s injuries.
The family also had to deal with the court case involving Barry Buckley, who was fined £250 and banned from driving for 12 months at derby Crown Court after admitting driving without due care and attention on the night of the crash.
She said: “The last three years have been a real battle for Paige and the worst experience imaginable for the rest of the family. Seeing Paige lying on the road covered in blood and bruises with paramedics working to save her life has had a massive impact on me, something I don’t think I will ever get over.
“While she was in hospital it was horrible seeing her covered in medical tubes and wires, not knowing if she would live or if we would be complete strangers to her when she woke up. Doctors said her brain injury was so severe it was the equivalent of shaken baby syndrome, which was also really frightening.
“Since the accident I constantly relive the moment I saw Paige lying unconscious in the road and have terribly upsetting nightmares about planning her funeral. Similar storylines on television upset me and emotional songs make me burst into tears.
“I’m scared of travelling in cars and worry about the kids being involved in accidents all the time.
“Everything has been so emotional, from the scene of the accident to the first time she wiggled her toes in hospital and recognised I was her mum. I’ve put all my efforts into helping Paige get better and trying to support the rest of the family I didn’t want to face up to the depression and stress I was feeling.”
Shirley says she hopes her family’s ordeal will show the devastating consequences road accidents can have.
She added: “I hope our families experience really hits home, especially during Road Safety Week, that motorists have people’s lives in their hands when they are on the roads.
“I also hope that people who have gone through a similar experience as we have will realise they don’t have t deal with everything themselves and will ask for help. My family, friends, staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the team at Irwin Mitchell have all been really caring and helpful and without that support network we wouldn’t have been able to help Paige the way we have and dealing with a mental illness like post traumatic stress disorder would have been far worse.”