Michael Fatialofa has spoken for the first time of his battle to walk again after suffering a catastrophic neck injury playing for Worcester Warriors against Saracens three months ago.
He has spent the last three months in hospitals following the ‘freak accident’ and told 1 NEWS from the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury where he has spent the last five weeks: “I wasn’t even trying to be a hero or anything. I think it was just the perfect mix – my head was in a bad position. His hip was there and it was just one of those things.
Continue reading below…
WATCH: Big Jim and Goodey are back and joined by Italy international George Biagi and Freddie Burns.
“From my neck down, I couldn’t feel anything or move anything. It was pretty scary, and I was really short of breath because, what I did, was the spinal cord was compressed and anything below the spinal cord is affected and that includes my lungs and I was just kinda trying to breathe.”
Scans revealed a fracture in his C4 vertebrae as well as a spinal contusion, a serious condition that causes compression on the spine.
“It’s a time that’s tough to think about,” he said of the two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at London’s St Mary’s Hospital. “My roommates were victims of gun violence and stabbings and I could hear everything going on. Just all the beeping and no sleep. It’s something I don’t really like thinking about now that I’m past it. I heard some people die next to me. It was quite traumatising. All I could hear was a beeper go off, everyone rush in and then I have a new roommate the next day.
“I was pretty scared. I just didn’t want to be a burden to my wife and family. But then I thought I’d just leave it with God and see what happens. When I got that one finger, I didn’t wanna go back to sleep. I thought ‘I might wake up and then it’s gone and I can’t move it again,’ so it was just mind games in the hospital.”
His wife, Tatiana has kept family and friends aware of her husband’s progress through social media but COVID-19 travel restrictions means she can no longer be at his bedside.
Fatialofa’s internal organs have been affected by the injury and he will have to deal with those problems for the rest of his life. He added: “Walking is the tip of the iceberg with these types of injuries. My hands are probably the hardest thing for me – getting my hands functioning. My left hand pretty much does nothing.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now