I had an accident in 2002 falling off a container ship at Ipswich docks. Before that I was in the military. I left the military one month before I had the accident and the accident actually caused a subdural haematoma in my brain which is a small bleed. After that for many years I had 5 operations on my head. It took probably about 6 years to walk and talk again and it left me with partial sight and partial hearing and a big metal plate in my head.
For me the reason I applied to go to university was because I was out of work for so long with lots of operations on my head. I remember one day I had an x-ray done on my head and it was done by a student and that’s when the penny dropped and I thought I would quite like to do this. The experience applying for the degree was quite challenging but fairly straightforward and there is a lot of help there if you need it. For me because I left school and joined the military I didn’t do any further education so I had to do an additional year to give me qualifications to apply for university.
The course itself is very challenging, and anybody who thinks it is like a normal degree, it’s really almost like an apprenticeship. You are working full time and I enjoyed that aspect of it. Straightaway you are hands on with patients after your academic blocks so it was very challenging but very worthwhile. I am now actually working at James Paget Hospital as a Radiographer so it’s fantastic. I’m qualified and now with the patients, treating them.
As we all know now we have an ageing population so we get a lot of older people down for x-rays and things who have spent a long time in hospital so I can empathise with them because I have been there. It helps with my communication. I will never forget my time in hospital. Hopefully I will always be able to carry that on to improve the patient’s experience.
The support from the university was fantastic; from the lecturers, such as Ruth Strudwick and people like that, are fantastic because they always appreciate I can’t see things like on the board so they go the extra mile for me. They’ve all been very supportive.
For students who might be in the same position as myself, they might have some disabilities, don’t let that hold you back. With the support of the university they will help to get you to your goal, there’s nothing that should hold you back. Looking back on it now, I was young so that’s what helped me and I think its human nature for us to fight against disabilities and things like that. I think for myself I can’t ever say that the disabilities held me back because when I couldn’t walk I would just try more and walk more and try harder and harder.
At my graduation I felt very proud and nervous actually. It’s been a long journey for me; 12 years since I had my accident and now it’s gone full circle and I’m now a fully qualified radiographer. I am still living with the consequences, I have just adapted, I wear a hearing aid and I move slowly through crowds.
If someone is thinking of studying here I would say come, it is an excellent, friendly university. It isn’t something like a big, big university where you might get swept away. All the staff are very approachable from day one so if you need any help with anything, the library staff are fantastic, the facilities are top notch and by the look of it they are only going to get better with new buildings and things. I would say to anyone thinking of studying here you should definitely come and do it.