The last week has been spent in a blur of stress and anxiety.
Very early on Monday morning The Ragazza was returning from Oxford where she'd been to a concert by a band called Taking Back Sunday. The train was cancelled so Great Western Railways put on a replacement bus. That bus broke down on the A34, a busy, unlit, dual-carriageway. The driver permitted some of the passengers to leave the bus to call home. My daughter was one of those who had just stepped off the bus when it was struck by a DHL lorry.
The DHL lorry clipped one side of the broken-down bus as the driver attempted, at the last minute, to avoid a collision, which spun the bus round causing it to hit my daughter and throw her 20 feet into a ditch down the embankment.
She was seriously injured.
4 am on Monday morning that phone call that every parent dreads.
"I'm so sorry to have to tell you. Your daughter is in the ER at John Radcliffe hospital. She has severe injuries. Come now."
When I arrived I asked if we could wait for her father before she went into the operating theatre. A surgeon looked me in the eye and told me, "Her injuries are life-threatening, if we do not operate now she will die." My daughter told her boyfriend, "Look after my mum, she gets anxious, don't let her panic about me." When they wheeled her away I panicked. Oh boy, did I panic.
She had that surgery during the night.
Her spleen had to be removed. Her left kidney was smashed. She had suffered a broken cervical vertebra, two fractures to her pelvis, facial lacerations, a punctured lung and ten splintered ribs. She also sustained an injury to her brain.
My baby was broken.
We, the nurses, her brother, boyfriend and I, have made five attempts to wake her since Wednesday morning. Each time she became so stressed and distressed that we had to stop and she had to be sedated again. It has been a week of having to face the unspeakable possibility of losing her.
Today we arrived at the hospital at 8 am as usual to be told that The Ragazza was awake, had had her breathing tube removed and was stable. She's not out of the woods yet, she still has a long way to go but today, for the first time, I could smile again.
The police are investigating the accident. There are many questions to be answered.
GWR have left us messages offering support and assistance but we have coped as a tight-knit family unit and supported each other.
The band whose concert she had attended the previous evening sent a video wishing her well.
And DHL whose driver almost killed my daughter have not been in touch to enquire how she is.
Police reports indicated that the lorry driver had only reduced his speed by 1 kmh before the crash.
He had 200m of clear visibility.
I am no expert but that indicated to me that he was not looking at the road.
In court he was found guilty of careless driving, fined just over £300 and had 5 points on his licence.
My daughter was unconscious for 4 days, in ICU for 7, then on a trauma ward over Christmas.
Her recovery from her injuries took 5 months.
And she was not paid for 4 of those months.
I wanted to go to the court, to stand up and say to them "It took me 4 years of intensive medical assistance to conceive that child. Her birth was long and difficult. Once I had my perfect baby in my arms it was all worth it. I took 10 years out of my career to raise her, to give her the happiest, healthiest start in life and the best childhood possible. And she grew into an amazing, kind, intelligent, caring woman. She has just started teaching little kids. She loves her job and her kids love her. I had thought that my days of stressing and sacrificing and worrying were over. I thought I could relax. And then that lorry driver hit that bus and my beautiful daughter was broken forever. And do you know what made it so much worse for us, her family? Not one word from the company for whom he works. Not one message of sympathy as we sat by her bedside praying that she would live. Not one offer of help and support. Not one word DHL.'
Picture Oxford Mail