A year ago Clinton Morris was fighting for his life. A motorist in Port Elizabeth was looking up directions on her cell phone when she hit the motorcycle he was riding.
The bone in his lower right leg snapped and bent backwards. Morris tied the draw strings of his shorts around his thigh to try to stop the bleeding but he still almost bled to death.
For the next few weeks Morris‚ who worked as a handyman at Pine Lodge‚ would be transferred between the Livingstone Hospital and the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital as doctors tried to save his life.
And as he fought‚ Morris had the distressing experience of seeing a man fall to his death from a window at Livingstone Hospital.
“I never want to see something like that ever again. It was on Christmas Day last year‚” he said.
Against doctors’ advice‚ Morris refused to give permission for his leg to be amputated.
“It was around this time that I thought‚ ‘I can’t do this’. Then I rallied.”
Soon after the accident Morris posted a picture on Facebook that read: “Keep walking.”
Morris spent 76 days in hospital. Since he was discharge he has walked with a fixator‚ an iron cage with rods that immobilises his leg to help the bones fuse.
Morris started exercises‚ determined to walk again. For weeks he would change his profile picture on social media to the Superman symbol.
In two weeks’ time‚ part of the fixator will be removed surgically and Morris will be able to walk freely again.
“I just refused to listen to anybody who said my leg had to come off. I would let them talk and I would smile‚” he said.
He said the news story of a man who was found dead with a fixator around his leg deeply affected him.
“I could not allow myself to get scared. Every day I made myself get up. I count down in how many days I will not be wearing the fixator.
“I found strength in myself that I never thought I would have. Funnily enough‚ my biggest problem when getting up and about was that people kept on bumping into my leg. I would have thought they would try to avoid it.”
Morris said the most difficult transition from being an able-bodied person to a disabled one was discovering that Port Elizabeth was not wheelchair-friendly.
“That guy who fell off the roof gave me nightmares for months. My resolution for 2018 is to only go to hospital once and then never ever again.”
Morris said many people helped him but only one or two stayed the course.
“Brian Paddey from the Amputee Support Group was one. He never left. My mom‚ Judy Poole‚ was the other. Nobody wants to put up with a guy going through hell. I guess I was grumpy some days too.”
Morris said he weaned himself off painkillers.
“Some of the pills were giving me nightmares. I couldn’t sleep. I had to learn to deal with the pain by using my mind‚” he said.
Paddey said Morris has been incredibly courageous. “He hasn’t been able to test his leg. I am praying that he will be able to walk again.”
Morris never planned to stay in Port Elizabeth; he is originally from Johannesburg.
“As soon as my legal action against the hospital and the Road Accident Fund is finalised I will be buying a car and then I will drive away as quick as I can‚” he said.
“But first I will help Brian’s amputee support group. I want Port Elizabeth to remember me.”