Annette Smith broke her left tibia and suffered nine fractures when she fell off a step ladder whist at home. It was a painful and traumatic accident that had a huge impact on her life and left her with a long road to recovery.
“I only went to get something that I couldn’t quite reach,” she explains, with a hint of embarrassment. “I was just four steps up when the ladder collapsed. I had to have plates down both sides of my leg which have been bolted to hold it together. I had complete bed rest for 12 weeks only going to the bathroom and back on a Zimmer frame.”
It was a frustrating time as Annette, 55, visited hospital on several occasions to attend physiotherapy that, once back home, she wasn’t able to put into practice.
“The physiotherapist gave me some exercises,” she recalls, “but I didn’t do them as it hurt and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.”
Having nearly lost her leg and struggling to help herself regain her previous strength, Annette also admits that the accident had far reaching emotional consequences too; “The accident left me frustrated and tearful. I could not even make myself a cup of coffee, just everyday things we take for granted. John and my husband had to take time off work to help look after me.”
“My experience has been excellent. I would recommend it to anybody.”
However, Annette’s son, John, was a firefighter in Richmond, Surrey and it was his employers who helped her to take her first steps to recovery.
“It was actually the fire service who suggested to my son, that I should apply for help,” she explains. “So he rang the Charity and from there it has been easy sailing. We were very surprised to find out that I was a beneficiary.
“I was worried before I attended [rehabilitation] at Marine Court, but I needn’t have been as everyone was so friendly. I had a rehabilitation programme devised for me to help me straighten my leg, mainly in the hydro pool and on the anti-gravity treadmill. Now I can actually walk normally on the anti-gravity treadmill.
Annette talks fondly of her time at Marine Court as we talk to her following a gym session.
“My experience has been excellent,” she says. “I would recommend it to anybody. I can’t believe what I achieved in two weeks. The physiotherapists know exactly what you can do and there is no pressure at all. When I came in I was walking on crutches and now I am not! I even achieved my personal goal to walk up the stairs.”
“There are no words to describe what I would like to say to the staff at Marine Court because they have been amazing in everything that they have done. I don’t think there is a word to explain it and that’s the truth.”
Keen to give something back to the Charity, Annette and her son have been working together to ensure that a recycling bank is placed at the Richmond station, so that the local community can also support the Charity through donating their old clothes. But it doesn’t stop there.
“John is going to speak to his Station Manager and he is trying to get a car wash organised now too, because they don’t currently do it there,” she enthused, before keenly adding; “I am now going to pay a small donation every month. There are lots of things people can do to support the Charity and help even more people like me.”