Lloyd Daniels – It Hasn’t Affected My Bowling At All

I was at work changing a tyre. I’d been asked to help someone with less experience. I was trying to make sure he didn’t get hurt. I work safe and I am careful. We were on our hands and knees checking the clamp on the tyre machine. The tyre lever flew up and hit me in the face.

I sat down and felt my eye. A bit of it was hanging out. I tried to scoop it back. Then the panic happened around me. Everyone came running. No one would answer my question, “What does my eye look like?” I started choking on my own blood. When I blew my nose everyone was shouting, “No, no don’t do that!” I asked someone, “did I blow my eye out?” She started dry retching. I pushed the eye back. Everyone relaxed.

Twenty-five minutes passed and no ambulance arrived. They called five times. Things were very tense. I went into shock, shaking and feeling nausea and started feeling light headed. The ambulance arrived. Everyone started to calm down. The ladies got me to inhale drugs. I asked my boss to call my wife Katie to meet me at the hospital. I don’t remember how I got to the ambulance. I do remember in the ambulance when they passed my belongings. My foreman wished me luck and the doors closed.

In the ambulance I started to feel light headed. The nurse said, “Stop! Stop! I am losing him.” Then the sirens came back. Then it happened again. Finally I was at the hospital, loads of nurses, my wife by my side. I then remember I was back on the ward. My wife said they were going to operate on Monday but the theatres were too busy. Next day it was discussed that there was a 50% chance that I would lose the eye. My wife was told my eye was still there after the surgery. We were over the moon that the eye was saved. We were all in a very good mood.

I went up to the eye clinic the next day but unfortunately I could see practically nothing, just specks of red. Then things got complicated. There was concern about the other eye. There was the option of the further surgery. I was worried about losing sight in the other eye. I was given a ten-day window to decide what to do. When I got home I felt flat, depressed. We discussed it. I wanted to get the eye out, I couldn’t bear to lose sight in the other eye.

I went back for further surgery on my nose. They also rebroke and set my cheekbone. Back up in the ward I didn’t feel so good. I was sick. When things got better I went home. Days later we were back to make the decision. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether to have further surgery or get the eye removed. There were four doctors involved in discussions. Finally I decided to get the eye removed.

I went in as a day patient. I found myself with all these other young guys with other injuries. There was one chap who was hit by a motorbike and almost lost his leg. There was another guy who’d been in a family fight and had a broken hand. Someone else had an arm injury. It was good because we had to wait an hour or so and that meant we could talk to each other. The other guys couldn’t believe how positive I was. They laughed when I asked the surgeon when I could go back to work.

After speaking to these people I knew I wasn’t the only young guy that bad things were happening to. I went into surgery feeling better. I was told that there would be eight surgeons. The surgery took a lot longer as they had to do repair work on the socket.

I decided it would be wise to talk to someone so I got a referral from my GP. I couldn’t sleep. I kept having crazy nightmares. I was worried I could no longer protect my wife. I felt I had to stay awake at night to protect her.

Back home it all started to sink in. I was worried about my wife. I got so much support. I started feeling sorry for myself particularly when there was pain. Why is this happening to me? I decided that there was nothing I could do but get up and carry on. I wanted to get my life back. The doctors talked about being off work for months. I decided they were wrong I became determined to get my life back as soon as possible. I kept asking, “when I can I go back to work?. They kept saying, “too soon”. Then when could I do sport. I felt so sick of being at the house. Frustration kept building up a little bit. We went and got us a puppy – that helped. My wife knew I was a ticking time bomb and I needed something.

I had more chats with the psychologist – that helped me understand what I was going through. The way I was feeling was natural. Everyone in similar circumstances would feel it. So that helped me in a big way. Getting the puppy Fergus helped give me a reason to get out of bed. It helped him and helped me. The first night we had him I started to sleep. The more walks the better my sleep became. That made a difference to how I felt.

We came to see Paul and Jenny for the first time. I got my temporary eye. Not so many heads turned. People said it looked better. I didn’t think I cared what I looked like. I must have because I felt better. I didn’t have to answer so many questions. I asked Paul about work and sport. Paul gave me the idea of throwing a ball against the wall for depth perception practice. I found it too predictable, it wasn’t challenging.

I started using the puppy’s kong toy. It bounced in a different way each time. It also bounced at a different speed. The first few times I used it I became frustrated. The more I worked at it the more I could catch. I started feeling better about it. Throughout all of this we were still seeing eye surgeons, plastic surgeons. People started saying I was almost ready for work and sport. I think because I was persistent, I started feeling better, sleeping more, practicing with the ball.

Katie and I bought tennis racquets and balls. Katie hits the ball at different heights and different speeds. The frustration started to ease. I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore. I keep thinking – this is what’s happened and I am going to get on top of it. I feel determined not to let one eye change my life. I am still going to play my sport.

When I first drove it was very very different. I felt very vulnerable on my left hand side because the blind spot is much bigger than it is normally. I bought the little round mirrors that you stick on to the wing mirror. I then felt a lot more confident. It was very difficult to park the car. I struggled to judge how far the front left of the car was away from anything I was parking close or next to. I tried reversing in to parkings and what a difference!

I am back at work. For a start it was four hours a day on restricted duties. I am now back eight hours a day. I am not allowed to lift over 10kg. I am back playing indoor cricket. It is a challenge but I am up for that challenge. I no longer just catch a ball. I have to think about catching a ball. It is funny the faster it comes the better I catch it. The ones that loop I have time to doubt myself and I end up missing it. Batting is quite hard. Anything in and around my legs – I lose it about 1m in front. Anything I can cut or pull – no problem. It hasn’t affected my bowling at all.

When I first started practising I found myself on the back foot all the time. I had to say to myself – go forward. So if you are a sports person I say don’t give up. I am doing it – you can too.

As told to Julia Sutton. Reprinted with permission from Lloyd Daniels. You may link to this story, but please do not copy or otherwise circulate.