You can plan for many things in life, but being seriously injured isn’t one of them. Our client Tom was involved in a hit-and-run incident in 2013. It left him so badly injured that doctors thought he’d face years of rehabilitation before being able to speak, walk or live independently.
Years later, Tom has defied all expectations. He’s returned to his sports coaching career, bought his first home, married his partner Louise and together have had their first child, Albie.
We asked Tom and Louise to reflect on the challenges and changes they’ve faced as a couple, and how their relationship has strengthened as a result.
Louise said: “We’ve been together for 15 years, and married for nearly four of those. We met when we were 17, which feels like a bit of a lifetime ago.”
The incident happened around 6 years into their relationship, but it didn’t stop them from being there for each other.
Tom said: “I can’t remember how I was feeling about my injury in the first few months afterwards. The main difficulties I had were with my speech and my memory. I often said the wrong word and found putting sentences together quite difficult. I couldn’t retain much information, and had to write everything down. Even now, my memory is still affected. Despite the injury, I don’t think mine and Louise’s relationship has changed much. We still get on just as well as we did before – but I do have to rely on Louise a lot more..”
Louise added: “I think our relationship has changed since his injury. But I think it’s changed for the better. Before the accident, Tom kept things closer to his chest, whereas now he’s a lot more open about his feelings, which has helped us in the long run.
“Looking back on the early days of Tom’s injury, I’ve realised just how difficult and upsetting it was going to see him. I knew I needed to support him – and I wanted to do that. But visiting him was really difficult for me. I did have to have counselling which helped me talk through things and take control of my anxiety. I found it frustrating that Tom couldn’t always process things very quickly, so I’ve needed to learn to slow down and let him do things the way he wants to.”
Since moving into their new home together, Tom and Louise have welcomed their first child, Albie, into the world. Tom said: “Being a dad is amazing. I love watching our little son grow up to become a confident little boy. I love playing games with him, reading with him, and just seeing how he understands things every day.”
Louise adds: “Tom is a great dad – and at the moment, Albie seems to be a bit of a daddy’s boy! Tom’s really patient with him, spends time playing with him and teaching him lots of new things which is amazing to see.
“I think the only aspect of parenting which has changed as a result of Tom’s injury is that I do have to take over a lot of the planning to make sure everything runs smoothly. We have to write a lot down on our calendar, which I really enjoy – and means that Tom can be the dad that he wants to be and feel confident in doing what he wants to.”
Thinking about his recovery and how Louise has been there for him, Tom said: “Through my recovery and rehab, and being a great mum to Albie, Louise has been patient with me, supported me, and helped me get back to a new normal. I’ve always been determined to get back to work, driving, and moving into our new home. She’s always kept me positive, and I’m so pleased she’s always stuck by me.”
Louise added: “If I were to give advice to any other couples going through something similar, is to simply just listen to each other. If we each know how the other is feeling, and what we need to do, the day-to-day can run really smoothly. It’s also important to make sure you find time for yourselves, as well as for each other and for your friends and family. I find that being in charge all the time, it’s nice to have that time away to reduce anxiety or stress.”
Tom’s road to recovery
Tom’s remarkable recovery and positive attitude are really inspiring to see. We’re very grateful to both him and Louise for sharing their journey with us.
He’s looking forward to playing more of his favourite sports, golf and cricket, and running the London Marathon for the second time later this year to try and improve the time he set four years ago.
Tom was supported by Sarah Griggs in our Serious Injury team. Sarah said: “Tom and Louise are an amazing example of a couple who have defied the most traumatic and trying of circumstances to stay together and come out the other side stronger than ever.”
Over the next few weeks, we’re sharing our seriously injured clients’ stories as they reflect on a particular part of their journey that’s made a big difference to them. Sign up to our email updates to follow their stories with us.
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