Leaker Story

I was twenty years old and I’d spent the summer in the US competing in Triathlons. This was followed by a couple of weeks in the South of France in the Ardeché Gorge Rock climbing and having a most excellent time, then a week in Chamonix - the centre of world alpinism. Life was good, very good. I had a dream of becoming an International Mountain Guide which would have meant a life of sharing my passion for mountain sports, rock climbing, ice climbing skiing etc etc.

On the last day of the holiday in Chamonix, a friend and I decided to have an easy day on the Glacier des Bossons. It should have been a calm, low key, no stress day. It wasn’t. I slipped and banged my head, knocked myself out and ended up 40ft down a crevasse unconscious. The upshot was I had sustained one or two bumps and bruises. I had in actual fact broken my right leg in four places which had to be pinned back together, I had a compressed wedge fracture to vertebrae in my back at level L1 & L2, and I’d broken my nose.

What we didn’t know at the time was that I had also fractured my skull. This didn’t become apparent until a few months later when the trauma started to subside and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) started dripping out of my nose. I thought I had a cold. A cold it was not. At the time I was having regular orthopaedic checkups. I been told that it was likely I’d be on crutches for at least six months, in the world of Chris that was a challenge and to me, I was going to do without my crutches in three.

I had my regular appointment with the consultant and had shown him that I could walk without the aid of crutches. However I did let him know that I had been having really bad headaches, at which point an urgent X-ray was arranged. The results revealed that I had been taking outside air up into my cranium which had compressed my brain to two thirds the size it should have been.

I was asked to go home, pack a bag, and to get to the Queens Medical Centre for seven pm, that would be great. I was given antibiotics and an 8 hr operation (Anterior Fosa-Craniotomy) followed by a week on the Neurological ward, and thankfully that was enough to seal the hole that was in my head.

Chris following his Anterior Fosa-Craniotomy
Chris following his Anterior Fosa-Craniotomy

Life now

That was nearly thirty years ago. People have since called me stubborn; I prefer to see myself as determined and strong-minded. I listened to what people said (my family - I thank you) and made my own mind up. I believed I would get better and I have, and I’m stronger because of what happened to me. It may seem strange but I’m happy it did happen because I can now use my experience to help others. I had to put a few things on hold, but hey that’s life! Life is not a rehearsal, so get out be kind to those who need it and enjoy it.

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