Put it there... race ace Stuart Easton thanks medics who put him back together
He was moments from death when he came off his motorbike at 140mph in an accident during a practice run for the North West 200 two years ago.
But thanks to the skill and expertise of medics here, Scottish racer Stuart Easton (29) not only survived the high-speed smash, but has completely recovered from his list of serious injuries.
Yesterday he walked back into the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast – where he spent six weeks after the spill – to say a special thanks to the team of people who saved his life.
"After the accident I couldn't move from the chest down," he explained.
"I remember lying in the road and being able to lift myself up on my elbow but not being able to move my legs, and I thought I was paralysed. Then the pain set in."
Disaster struck when the bike in front of Stuart suffered an electronic fault causing the engine to cut out, and the pair collided.
He explained: "It all happened so quickly.
"The next thing I remember I was skidding down the road.
"They cut my leathers and gave me an injection and I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the Royal."
Stuart spent several days in the intensive care unit at the hospital before he was transferred to the high dependency unit (HDU), and eventually he was moved to a fracture ward.
"Intensive care wasn't so bad because I was so heavily sedated, but by the time I got to HDU I was on less medication so the pain was really starting to kick in," he said.
Stuart underwent surgery to repair his bowel but doctors were unable to treat his fractures for a week.
He added: "I had to be turned every hour to stop from getting pressure sores – and every time you could hear the bones crunching.
"The pain was one of the worst things about the whole experience.
"I was on so much morphine I was starting to see goblins and ghouls."
Staff nurse Michelle Bunting, one of the team who cared for Stuart, explained: "His case was one of the more difficult ones we deal with because he didn't just have one injury.
"He had a metal frame attached to his pelvis and as he had skinned his right arm we had to be very vigilant for infections.
"He also had to have a skin graft which required the dressings to be changed frequently.
"Managing Stuart's pain was very difficult and the pain team was heavily involved, constantly coming in to see him, to try and get the right balance of pain relief without causing hallucinations."
Stuart has returned to racing but is more than aware that he cheated death.
"I don't want anyone to think I take what I have for granted," he said. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for everyone who looked after me after my crash and I know I am fortunate to have made a full recovery.
"A lot of my organs shut down. I know exactly how lucky I am."