I wish the reason could have been more ‘rock and roll’ but when people asked me to explain how I ended up with torn ligaments in my left knee, three stitches in my right elbow and hobbling on crutches, the answer couldn’t be less glamorous.
A badger ripped up the newly seeded grass in my very steep back garden. While raking it neatly back into place, I slipped off the end of my grass area onto a concrete patio, falling six foot and landing forwards.
After staggering into the house, several hours later I found I couldn’t get up, walk and my elbow wouldn’t stop bleeding. But being the ‘tough’ (read: stupid) person I was, I didn’t call 111 until the next day.
A very kind friend came over with a wheelchair (how embarrassing was that!), two more friends lifted me into her car and one visit to Stoke Mandeville Hospital and two-and-half hours later, I sported a delightful knee brace, arm bandage and having to learn how to walk on crutches for the first time in my life.
But the biggest impact this had on my life was not being able to drive. My car didn’t move an inch for four weeks, and alongside this was planning ahead for food buying, calling anyone I knew for lifts and shopping, and wondering how to fill the time each day.
As an employer, IAM RoadSmart proved to be superb at handling the situation. It refused to allow me to drive into work until I was full recovered and able to bend my knee without pain.
I wasn’t given clearance to attend the IAM RoadSmart Annual Conference on crutches, much as I wanted to – my managers decided I wasn’t fit to return to work so soon.
And that leads to the point of this article. Much as though I felt I let my company down, I was in no position to drive a car for many weeks. Not just in terms of my lack of ability to press the clutch pedal, but the effect taking co-codamol for pain relief would have on my reactions and ability to respond to situations behind the wheel.
I hope that all employers have this attitude to their employees when recovering from illness and driving.
Whether it’s injury, a cold, flu or other illness or disease, your ability to drive is severely compromised if you cannot react fast to situations around you. You are not being a hero by battling illness just to get to work by car. All you are doing is putting yourself and others around you at risk.
Is it really worth it? That PowerPoint presentation can wait a bit longer.
Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart senior communications executive