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A Lincolnshire cyclist who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit by a car, says he wouldn’t have survived without the care of the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance crew.

One day Mark Jones, was working as a dog handler with the British Transport Police. The next, he was fighting for his life and continues to work on his recovery today.

“My sergeant had asked me to take a statement at Grantham Railway Station. After doing this I was allowed to finish early and go home. I never got home,” said Mark (59).

“It’s amazing how life changes just because of one accident.” “You realise your whole life has changed in that one moment.”

It took less than 15 minutes to fly Mark to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) where a surgical team were waiting to operate on him.

Other injuries consisted of a bleed on the brain, both lungs punctured, numerous broken bones including two vertebrae, right collarbone and shoulder blade, every rib on the left-hand side and three on the right. His right leg was severely damaged below the knee and surgeons had  to shorten his leg by 1.5 cm and put his leg into a metal frame, so that the bones regrow and reconnect effectively.

It was September 2015 and Mark, spent the next 5 weeks in a coma.  His condition was critical, and his chance of survival was low. He received extensive medical care, but the effects of the bleed on the brain had caused too much damage and was going to take much longer to overcome so Mark was transferred to Northampton Rehabilitation Unit to help prepare him for when he could live independently at home.

“It was there that I realised how badly injured I was. Everyday things were suddenly too hard for my brain to work out. It was surreal. I knew my name but couldn’t write it. I had to learn how to get dressed, clean my teeth, to do all those simple tasks including household chores and creating recipes with just two items in them – I could never get a third – It was all too much for my brain.”

Finally, after 18 months, Mark was able to go home. He said: “But I was not going to let this beat me, I would not just lie down and take it, I was going to be active and face my recovery with determination to succeed.”

The accident had a big effect on Mark’s family and his wife, Karen visited hospital daily to help nurse him. She even once arranged to bring Mark’s beloved dog Ollie into the ward to cheer Mark up. He acknowledges that Karen bore the brunt of his frustrations and anger, especially in those first years following the accident.”

Eight year later, Mark is still recovering. He has a speech impairment, short-term memory loss and suffers from fatigue. Part of the left side of his head is missing and he has had a titanium plate inserted since to recreate the shape of his head and most importantly to protect his brain.”

He can cook, hoover and clean the house. He can cycle and drive a car. He has also had the courage to travel abroad to his son`s wedding.

He has set up a dog training business and has become a volunteer for LNAA giving talks at clubs and societies, raising awareness of its life-saving work.  As he says: “You saved my life – this gives me the chance to give something back.”

It makes me feel sad to realise how much I have changed, and it must hurt Karen immensely to think that the world we had isn’t the same anymore and will never be. The person I was has gone, but I’m still alive and well, I’m just different. Life does still go on and we have to do the best we can to look to make a future that we want.