A roofer from Burton Joyce who fell 35ft and landed on concrete has thanked the Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) teams who nursed him back to health and taught him to walk again.
58-year-old Simon Bell was working on a roof in May 2023 when he fell from the two-storey building.
The roofer suffered a brain injury, internal bleeding and damage to his internal organs, and had fractured his shoulder and broken all of his ribs on the right-hand side.
He explained that he doesn’t remember the accident or his first six weeks in hospital.
Simon said: “I’ve been told that the customer came out to bring me a drink and found me on the ground, so they called for an ambulance. The air ambulance came out to me as well.
“I was in intensive care at QMC for six weeks, and my body was in shutdown. I wasn’t good – they had to remove my spleen, my liver and kidneys were damaged, and they kept pumping blood out of my lungs.
“I was in quite a mess.”
After five weeks in Intensive Care and six weeks on the Major Trauma Ward at QMC, Simon was transferred to Linden Lodge at City Hospital to begin his rehabilitation with the specialist team consisting of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and other healthcare professionals based there.
Simon’s wife of 23 years, Jo, explained that moving from the hospital setting to Linden Lodge for rehabilitation was a real change.
She said: “Until then, the majority of the focus had been nursing and medical, but here rehabilitation became the focus and medicine faded into the background, which is what Simon needed.
“Simon’s care since the accident has been fantastic, and the rehab staff have been excellent. But they are trying to look after patients in a difficult environment, so I’m sure the new NRC will give them better facilities.”
Thanks to the dedication of all the staff at Linden Lodge, and Simon’s determination and positive mindset, after just five weeks, Simon was out of a wheelchair and on his way back to independence.
He said: “To start with, I had very little movement in my right-hand side – I could only move my fingers. When I arrived at Linden Lodge, I couldn’t shower on my own, walk on my own and was in a wheelchair.
“I wanted to be better as soon as possible, and was previously a fit and active person, so if anyone dropped out of a physio session or if any of the Linden Lodge team had spare time to fit me in, I was in the gym. I always felt better after exercise and was motivated to push myself to do a bit more.
“I found that the harder you work at it all, the harder they will work with you.”
In addition to working on physical rehabilitation, the psychologists at Linden Lodge worked with Simon regularly to assess his brain injury, including setting him simple maths tests and speed exercises, and gradually he began to recover.
In September, Simon was finally allowed to return home to his wife and daughter, but it’s been a big adjustment for them all, and there is still a long road to recovery with support through outpatient rehabilitation provided.
He said: “My brain struggled to adjust, which is what happens with brain damage, so it was a big step coming home, but I was pleased to be back.
“I was also happy to see our cats and my Labrador Rufus again – I’m calling him my therapy dog now as he’s good for me because I have to get up every day to walk and feed him, and I think he can sense I’m not how I used to be, so he’s much more gentle now.
“My family aren’t keen on me going back to roofing, but it’s all I’ve known for 30 years, so life will look a bit different in the future.”
In the future, patients such as Simon will be able to receive intensive support at the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), currently being built on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough.
Both Simon and Jo said that the plans for the NRC will be a great step forward in rehabilitation facilities – especially having individual rooms and facilities to help with the transition home.
Simon said: “I’m a very light sleeper, so struggled to sleep in a room with other people, and when you’re tired it knocks you off-kilter and makes everything harder.
“Sleep is especially important when you’re recovering as you need to give your body time to rest, so the plans for individual rooms at the NRC sound good.”
In addition, the NRC will have state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities, as well as space for families to spend time together, assisting and supporting their rehabilitation journey.
Find out more about the NRC: https://www.nationalrehabilitationcentre.nhs.uk/