James Wood in a wheelchair

Will my Dick Work?

Woody Shares

As posted on Linked in 

Apologies in advance if any of you take offense to the title of this article, but this was an actual question that I asked the doctor after my workplace accident where I broke my back and crushed my spinal cord.

September 1985, I was in my early 20’s and had just finished my apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic. I was earning good money, living away from home and enjoying life.

It was a Monday morning and my girlfriend had visited for the weekend. She had the Monday off and she asked me if I could take the day off too….. But I had broken the muffler bracket on my motorbike the day before and I knew if I went to work I could weld it up during my lunch break so I decided to go to work.

Now I won’t go into too much detail here about my accident, as I spend a large part of my year sharing my story with workplaces, but I will say that I was thrown from a vehicle and snapped my back….. I’ll also tell you that I was going too fast and I did not have a seatbelt on! CHOICES that I made caused me to end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life!

The rest of that day was horrible, I still have bad dreams about some of the things that happened to me, The workplace first aid treatment, then the local paramedics, then the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was flown in to take me to the Spinal Unit at RNSH in St Leonards in Sydney.

There were tests, there were X Rays, there were questions, there was pain…. Did I mention the pain? Best I don’t…. It still hurts.

Doctors don’t communicate very well, Sure they know the workings of our bodies and what makes them work and not work. But some doctors spend so much time studying and practising their profession that they lose the ability to communicate what is in their heads to their patients!

I was asking questions, I knew how a cummins diesel engine worked and i could explain it to you in detail, why could the doctors not answer my questions?“What is happening to me?”

“Why can’t I move my legs?”

“Will I be able to go home tonight?”

“It hurts!”

“What is that tube you just put into my penis?”

And many more……

After the tests, I was in shock, the Doctors were still talking to each other but not to me. I think they had a pseudo meeting and drew straws as to which one of them was going to actually try to communicate with me.

Dr Harris* was his name, I still remember it after all this time, came to the side of my bed and started to talk AT me….. But not quite TO me!

“James it appears as though you have broken your back at T7/8 Thoracic level and crushed your spinal cord. You also have some broken ribs and a possible punctured lung. Your shoulder is damaged quite bad and you have a laceration on your forehead and a chipped tooth!”

He paused for a moment to let all of this sink in and I could tell that he was thinking to himself “Have I forgotten anything?”

Before he continued to talk at me and said “We are still waiting for some test results, but depending on the damage done to your spinal cord there is a possibility that you will never walk again”

I’ve thought about that last statement many times over the years and the one word that sticks out to me is “Possibly”….. Did he say that just in case he was wrong?

He then looked at me…… I’m sure he has had this conversation with many patients before me and I guess he was waiting for my reaction to what he had just told me.

There was nothing? I looked at him hoping that he would continue on to tell me that even after all of what he had just said they will operate on me and I’ll be home by the end of the week!….. But no, there was nothing!

I kept looking at him and he was looking at me and then at my chart which somehow acts as a shield to protect him!

The silence was beginning to get uncomfortable….. So he looked up from the chart and said to me “Do you have any questions?”

I looked at the doctor and without hesitating asked the first thing that would come into any young males mind.


James Wood has spent over 15 years sharing his story with workplaces in Australia, New Zealand and Overseas. James is not a Safety Professional, He is proud to say he tries to give people a reason to go home at the end of the day and not get hurt or killed while doing our job!

*Not doctors real name

Tweet me at @WoodyTSB on Twitter

Like  or Tweet  CNBSafe on Facebook and Twitter

 Visit the CNBSafe Safety Speaker page on LinkedIn

Learn more about our Safety Speakers at www.cnbsafe.com.au

choices, dont hurt yourself, james wood, risk, wheelchair, woody
Previous Post
What is Woody’s Words?
Next Post
The ‘Fear Factor’

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.