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Pain on the menu at Dilip's dinner party

17 May 2019
Pharmacist Dilip Chauhan knows all about pain, but when he had an accident at a quiet dinner party at home he experienced it first hand. 

The 56-year-old, from Mill Hill in north London, was entertaining some friends when he reached for a nightcap for a guest from a two metre high balcony. He overstretched and, clutching a bottle of whisky, fell head first on to the concrete-based solid wood floor.

“I smashed my right eye socket and suffered sub arachnoid and sub dural bleeds and was unconscious for a minute,” he recalls. “I also broke seven ribs, stopped breathing for 30 seconds and my friends were worried I'd broken my neck. When I regained consciousness I was very groggy and my pupils were unresponsive.” 

Dilip might have lost consciousness but he kept his sense of humour: “To make matters worse I also fell on and smashed the bottle of whisky,” he laughed.

Paramedics were called and immediately fitted Dilip with a neck splint and rushed him to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where he underwent a series of scans and tests over the next four hours. 

“As soon as I was stable they transferred me to a special brain trauma ward. My neck was bruised but intact but the medical staff seemed more concerned because my clothes wreaked of whisky!”

Dilip spent a week in hospital and was off work for two months before being reassessed and allowed to return to work.

“Although I was passed fit to issue drugs and, via the Army Cadets, fire rifles and teach children to do likewise, nobody could tell me when I could return to driving a car.

“I asked my GP who referred me to a specialist, who advised me to contact the DVLA, who sent me back to my GP!”

Eventually the physiotherapy department at Edgware Hospital suggested that Dilip contact HAD and undergo an assessment at our Driving Centre in Welwyn Garden City.

“I initially spoke to the HAD's receptionist David Sims, followed by driving assessor Mark Thackeray. Mark checked my driving licence details and said I should consider undertaking an assessment.”

Dilip drove a car from HAD's fleet, a manual Vauxhall Mokka. “It was a bit different from my automatic BMW 325i but I was so happy to be back behind the wheel,” he explained.

Dilip passed the assessment with the help of assessor Simon Edwards and Occupational Therapist Sarah Wright: “I started the drive on very quiet, minor roads to build up my confidence, eventually progressing to a triple carriageway.

“Simon and Sarah were great, very open and approachable with a systematic style that I liked,” Dilip said. “I will now be able to pass on HAD's written report to the medical assessors who haven't been in contact for a long time. I'll also be able to cut my commute time by driving to my pharmacy in Hackney.”

The last word comes from Simon: “It was extremely satisfying to see that Dilip was able to drive safely. A head injury like his, caused by an accident at home, could happen to any of us, at any time. It's great to see him getting things back together, and his returning to driving is one more piece in the puzzle.”