Pascal Derrien in Lifestyle, beBee in English, Healthcare Non Executive Director • Irish Social Enterprise Network Oct 6, 2016 · 3 min read · 4.1K

I Can't Speak

I Can't Speak

Soft feminine voices inviting me to follow them this is what I recall alongside this small but very bright light at the corner of my line of vision. I feel calm, restful and secure.

I open my eyes, the first thing I feel is this massive headache, my body ache from head to toes in part it feels so numb that the pain is almost unbearable how much of a paradox is that? The room is white and clean, there are monitors all around me,I realize very quickly that something is not right.

S*it I have a tube in my mouth, what is this place? What am I doing here? f*ck this is a hospital what's going on !!!!

The nurse on duty has noticed my eyes are now open and following a protocol shared all over the world she speaks calmly to me and asked me to squeeze a hand when I hear the letter A, I nod yes with my eyes indicating that I understand the process. She then checks my eyes with a soothing light and asks me a bunch of other questions. I think I must have passed the test successfully allowing the consultant to engage in a unilateral discussion.

My head is about to explode and I can barely hear what the guy in a white gown is telling me. He seems to have engaged in a monologue but I remember a few things and this is what I have managed to pick up. I have been in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 23 hours at Longjumeau General Hospital near Paris. Passed the initial context he further explained I had two surgeries almost back to back but what is not clear to me is if I was induced in a light coma or whether my mind shut down under the shock. I suppose it is difficult to accept that a sea of morphine and other floating painkillers have had an anaesthesia festival on me for so long.

It would take longer than a stock count inventory to list the number of distresses and damages my body went thru so I will keep it short. All the left hand-side of my body has taken a massive hit while being catapulted thru the windscreen from outside to inside the car. My leg is numb but I can feel my toes, some of my ribs are bruised, my hands and face are covered with white bandages and I have a mosaic of dressings and other compresses all over my limbs. The consultant pursued by saying how lucky I am (no kidding mate :-) ) as my carotid artery was one millimetre away from giving in and would it have been the case this conversation would not need to take place.

It is with an immense relief that I am told the tubes dancing around my throat will now be taken away. Before doing that, the consultant breaks the news that I am now the lucky owner and recipient of one hundred and twenty-seven stiches on my left jaw, he adds that is probably why I can feel all sorts of sensations on my face and rear head now, great news but I suppose it must get worse before it gets better. The tubes are taken away and I vomit life with relief and anxiety.

I am asked if I feel OK, and regaining composure I am about to say yes before I realize that there is no sound coming out of my mouth, I try again, I try again a second time and I try again a third time……. S*it it hits me now I am not stuck on a replay…. I can’t speak……. my face is f*cking paralyzed……

The nice nurse sees me crying and gently wipes the tears around my eyes most probably by fear that this would contaminate my wounds but I want to convince myself it is out of sheer compassion. I start to panic inside and fair to say I do not process well what is going on, what is this f*cking mess, this is a f*cking nightmare!!!

Two days later I still cannot speak but in the meantime, I have been explained that two central nerves on my face have been touched (don’t know their names & could not care less) the last two days have been very hard to me as I had to come to terms that I may just have to mumble from now as a mean of communication (cannot get any better hey!!!)

I was explained by a visiting plastic surgeon that I was on a 50/50 % scenario; it would be touch and go for a little while and really nobody knew for sure how it would evolve, the best thing I could do was to remain calm and stay positive. I should follow instructions from the medical staff always. He added with good intent that all we could do now was to pray for the best outcome, ah super mate I don’t do that either I have no f*cking religion so I guess I am in the s*it now :-), that’s what I wanted to tell him but obviously, I had to keep it for myself as I had become tongue tied, silent, mute, speechless.

2 weeks later I have regained the partial usage of my voice but I am still partially paralyzed and would later develop a significant weakness on my left jaw. To date I can still speak with an upper Billy Idol lip impression taking advantage on the lower lip when I am very tired. Other days some shards and other glass fragments tend to resurface at the least opportunistic moment. If nothing else maybe it is a reminder that nothing in life is granted.

If you happen to have a voice, use it because who knows when will be the next time you will be able



Car crash

Photo Credit

Man, with a bandage

Produced for beBee only

Pascal Derrien Oct 9, 2016 · #50

#49 thanks for the comment it was a defining moment indeed Dilma ☺

+1 +1

thanks for sharing with us such experience you faced. I think it "shaped"you for ever...And we learn from your words what really matters...

+2 +2
Pascal Derrien Oct 8, 2016 · #48

#47 many thanks David you live you learn as they say you nailed it perfectly with your comment ☺have a great day

+2 +2
David Navarro López Oct 8, 2016 · #47

When I started to read your post, I thought it was not a real life experience, and I was impressed about your capability to describe such a bad situation. Then, when I realised that it was a real thing it happened to you, I could understand why you could do it so perfectly, and for sure the best lesson of it is in your words "If nothing else maybe it is a reminder that nothing in life is granted.If you happen to have a voice, use it because who knows when will be the next time you will be able TO SPEAK UP"
I went through a process in which along months I thought I was not going to make it, some 12 years ago.
When one faces an experience that can make such a terrible change in your life, or even lose your life at all, then one understands what is important in life and what isn't. Since then, I suppose like yourself, I am grateful for every day, and live my life waking up in the morning as if it was my first day, with illusion, and end my days with the conviction I have done in my day everything the best I could, as if it was my last.
It was a terrible experience, but as well an awakening to life
Sadly enough, many people won't learn it unless in the hard way.

+4 +4
Pascal Derrien Oct 7, 2016 · #46

#45 @Debesh Choudhury it is unfortunately and extraordinarily common.... thanks for the kind words :-)

+2 +2
Debesh Choudhury Oct 7, 2016 · #45

Your narration is real Pascal Derrien .. It is unbelievable, but it can happen to any of us

+3 +3
Pascal Derrien Oct 7, 2016 · #44

#42 fully agree @Vincent Andrew :-) fully agree ....

+3 +3