‘I lost six months of memories in ski horror accident’
ARMY reservist Paul Harrison’s life changed forever when he was involved in a high-speed skiing accident.
He sustained a traumatic head injury during the horror collision which wiped six months from his memory.
But after receiving expert treatment, the Dinas Powys resident is now well enough to give something back to the clinicians who saved him.
“I’d been ski racing with the Army for the last eight years,” he said.
“We were practising carving to keep as much speed as possible while making turns. We were coming down the slope at the end of the day, doing approximately 50-55mph, when someone cut in front of me.
“I hit the back of their skis and a don’t remember anything after that. I was just going too fast to think.”
Paul was told a man performed CPR on him at the scene and saved his life.
“I was dead and he brought me back to life,” he added. “My next real memory after that is weeks later. I was out for 45-50 minutes after the crash, I’m told. I saw an Austrian doctor who told the exercise leader I was OK, so they sent me back to my accommodation.
“Following the crash, I lay in bed for a whole week. I don’t remember anything of substance from that time.
“I returned home and everything passed in a blur. November, December, January, February – I don’t really remember any of it now as my memory had been affected. Until very recently I honestly felt like it was still Christmas!”
After the accident, Paul suffered headaches, balance problems and mood swings. He also struggled to remember things and had trouble sleeping.
“Little did I know at that point in time I had a frontal lobe injury,” added Paul, who is part of 105 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
On Boxing Day 2016 Paul blacked out, fell down the stairs and banged his head again.
“After that I really deteriorated and my symptoms got worse,” he added.
“I was too proud to admit anything was wrong. I serve in the armed forces – I’m meant to be tough as nails.”
Paul saw a consultant and was referred to Headley Court, a defence medical rehabilitation centre based in Epsom, Surrey, for a three-month course of treatment.
He added: “I had so much help from others. Clinicians obviously helped me with the medical and therapeutic interventions, but the mutual support I received from the soldiers who were fellow patients was incredible. It’s been a long journey. I wouldn’t alter a thing and it has changed me fundamentally.”
Paul, who works as a professional lead for general podiatric practice in Cardiff Royal Infirmary, is now running four half marathons to raise money for Headley Court.
He has already run the Bacchus Half Marathon, the Reigate Half Marathon and the Winchester Half Marathon. To finish the challenge, he’s set to run the Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday.
He will be dressed in his Army uniform carrying a pack weighing 16kg.
He said: “By raising money for Headley Court, I feel that in a small way I’m giving something back to those who helped me on my journey to recovery.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving. com/fundraising/paul-harrison-485