Jurek Pawlak

August 9, 2004. Jelcz-Laskowice – my new place of work. At 5 p.m. me and my colleague got in the car to drive home through Oława. An then my other colleague stopped us and asked for a ride to Wrocław. It was a two-door car, so as a passenger I sat at the back seat. After a few kilometres, on a bend of the road just a couple of meters before a small bridge, our car collided head-on with a lorry transporting wheat grain. We crashed the protective barrier on the side of the road and landed upside down in the river. Seconds later the lorry also landed in the river, crushing our car like a tin can. Both my colleagues died at the scene, but I turned out to be alive.
Other drivers, who happened to travel that road, rushed into the water to rescue me. I was conscious all the time. But the car was crashed so badly that they could not free me up. So they only held my head above the water preventing me from drowning until the emergency services came. Apparently, I was talking to those people, there was even a catholic priest among them, but I do not remember any of their faces. I would like to thank those people from the bottom of my heart! After the emergency team freed me up, I was taken to the hospital to the emergency room. The extent of the injury was so great that my chances of surviving were very thin. My right leg had been crashed – the bones had all been fractured and sticking out, I had an open fracture of the left wrist, head and chest injuries. I had cuts on the half of the surface of my left leg. Additionally, there was wheat grain in every single part of my crashed body, including the bone marrow. The doctors managed to put as many pieces as they could together, but due to massive wounds sepsis developed, and as a result my left leg had to be amputated above the knee to save my life. The prognosis was very pessimistic, sepsis kept hold of me, so another bit of my leg had to be taken away, until nearly nothing had left. I woke up after the second amputation. Besides the monitors, I was alone in the room and I remember being surrounded by a complete silence. I realized I had had my leg amputated. ‘What happened? Why am I here?’ – I thought to myself. I did not scream. And then, I saw the scene from the accident replayed on the white hospital room wall in front of me, and my memory came back. I do not know how to explain it, I was conscious after the accident, was I not? I spent 7 weeks in the hospital. The surgeon told me that from a medical point of view I should not have survived. Why have I? I do not know. Sepsis damaged many organs to the extent that I should be a wreck today. But miraculously, they all healed and have regained their normal function. How did that happen? At the day of the accident I was 44 years old. Today, when I am writing this, I just turned 60. My rehabilitation was aimed primarily at learning how to walk with a prosthetic leg. I never needed any psychotherapy. I had been friends with Roman and Jacek Furmański before the accident happened and they both helped me a lot. I met Jacek Sznajder many years later – I am so happy I have a friend in him! I found a new purpose in life – my disability is my asset, not a horrible drawback. If somebody needs to just talk with another person – I am always there for them. Do not get me wrong, though, I am not going to tap you on the back and say how sorry I am. I had it tried on me, and believe me – it does not work.