Thursday, May 26, 2016

Impaled in Zimbabwe - 'Spike' is now out of hospital.

For regular Blog readers, this post is not for the squeamish.

 This is a follow-up to the story of Grant 'Spike' Phillips who was impaled on a gate in Juliasdale, Zimbabwe,  on 1st May 2016. Following a wedding in the area, and under the influence of over-indulgence in celebratory libations, he had attempted to climb a gate in order to gain access to a cellular phone tower  - we think in order to climb the tower in order to view the sun-rise, and had slipped and impaled himself. One spike passed completely through his thigh, and the other through his lower abdomen. (If this is the first time you are reading this blog, please check the previous post titled 'Impaled in Zimbabwe - how Spike got his name' - old posts can be found to the right of this one).

This post is being written on 26th May 2016 - some 25 days after the incident. Grant left hospital for the final time yesterday.

In my previous post, I showed a picture of the spikes after they had been removed. At that time I did not have a picture of the gate on which he had been impaled, and off which he was cut with an angle-grinder. 

Here it is:

The above picture was taken the day after Grant was cut off the gate, and you can clearly see the two spikes missing which had accompanied him to Harare in the ambulance as they were embedded in his thigh and abdomen. The bent spikes are a result of him clinging on to the top of the gate for dear life for around two and a half hours - probably and hour and a half before he was discovered, and then another hour as the best way of removing him from the gate was arranged. His upper arm was very badly bruised in the process.

And how high was the gate? Well, once it was apparent that his life was no longer in danger, some of his friends went and posed by the gate for posterity's sake

It was quite a high gate and you can see it had to be cut from its hinges . . . .

Zimbabweans are not so good at expressing sympathy!!!

Of course, things had not been quite so light and jolly when Grant had been impaled on the spikes.

In the background of the following photograph, you can see the tower which (we assume) had been the driving force behind him climbing the gate in the first place. The spikes into his shirt did not penetrate him, but you can just see the base of the one which went through his thigh, and the other through his abdomen is completely invisible - the tips of both of them being hidden by his body.

The following photo was taken before they cut the gate from its hinges and subsequently cut through the spikes with an angle-grinder:

Isn't it amazing what moments in life are captured in these days of cellphone cameras?

Bear in mind that and this was the sight that greeted Spike's mother when she was called from the hotel. Several people contributed to his rescue, and various people brought different items to assist. The ladders appeared out of thin air, and were used climb up to tie him to the top, before they cut the gate from the hinges. No less than 3 angle-grinders appeared - the first being a little blunt, as well as a hacksaw and a bolt-cutter that were never used. Blankets and a canvas rope seemed to materialize out of the morning mist,  and a whole bunch of people assisted in lowering the gate and contributing to Spike actually surviving the incident.

The photos of the metal spikes (removed probably 14 hours after they entered his body) can be found in the previous blog post.

Of course his recuperation involved much hospital-visiting, and my daughters were conned into an awful lot of massaging and mopping of brows - most of which was unnecessary, but appreciated:

Some two weeks after being first admitted to hospital, Grant was allowed out, and came to our house to recuperate. Three days after being released, he started suffering intense chest pains and a marked shortness of breath. We took him to the doctor who found his heart-beat was abnormally low, so he was immediately re-admitted to the Avenue Clinic hospital where, after an angiogram to check his heart and an x-ray to check his chest, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. So back into General Ward, and treatment resumed.

In all probability he had contracted pneumonia while hanging around on top of the gate waiting for someone to find him, but the antibiotics given to him had kept it in check until he was released. He was one sick puppy though  . . .

That, thankfully is all behind him, and though still extremely tender, the pneumonia is a thing of the past.

Here is a photo of Grant walking to the car to head back to the hospital from our house. Part of his problem was that one of the spikes passed perilously close to his nether regions, (too close for comfort, you could say), and that injury became horribly infected. He is on the mend now, but has developed a marked tendency to walk like John Wayne (just after his horse was shot out from underneath him!).

Despite the setbacks, Grant is (slowly) on the mend. His wounds are healing, and his stitches were taken out yesterday - 26 days after being put in. Here are a couple of the wounds photographed the day before he was released - and you can see they are now mostly recovered. The puncture wound on his thigh was from a spike, and the other gash on his belly was from the surgery. (They opened him up before removing the spikes in order to clearly see what organs had been affected. The answer was . . . . none)

I should mention that these are 2 of the 'better-healed' injuries. But the worst ones are also improving, and there will be no long-term or permanent damage.

Despite the terrible wounds and long recovery, Grant was very fortunate indeed. The surgeons, anesthetist and everyone who saw him in his worst hours, could not believe that he had survived what the Roman Catholic Sister who visits the hospital wards insists on calling 'his crucifixion'.

I did mention that his mother had gone grey overnight, and those who know her will be pleased to learn that she, too, is on the road to recovery. Here she is two days ago looking so much more relaxed when she heard the news that Spike was to be released from the hospital shortly:

Obviously anyone with a similar story has been sending him the details, and we are all aware how extraordinarily lucky he was.

Unlike the fellow in the following pic called 'Bokkie' who wasn't quite so lucky. He didn't survive . . .

Ooooooh! Gotta hurt!

So the moral of the story, boys and girls, is . . . . . if you come across a gate or fence with spikes in it - stay away. Someone, somewhere, doesn't want you going from one side to the other, and has made a plan to stop you in your tracks.


Again, on behalf of the family, I would extend thanks to those who have kept Grant in their prayers. Over the past few weeks I have met several people who had been praying for him - without knowing him, or even his name. The support and goodwill he has received has been truly humbling

Thank you.

Have a great day!

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