WHEN 21-year-old offshore worker James Ramsay opened his eyes, at first he couldn’t work out where he was.
Realising he was lying down in a clinical-looking room he assumed he must be at the dentist. But why were his parents sitting beside the dentist chair, crying?
As James was soon to discover, he was in the Western General Hospital and it was a miracle he was even alive, following an accident at work that had left him with a significant brain injury.
James, now 35, who will be taking part in not one, but two of Sunday’s BUPA Great Edinburgh Runs, explains: I was in a coma for nearly three weeks after the accident. I can’t actually remember it but I’ve been told what happened. I was working offshore and was unloading a barrel when a crane knocked me down about 30ft on to the deck below.
“My hard hat came off and I landed on my head.”
James died on the deck, and had to be resuscitated before he was airlifted to hospital. After he awoke from his coma he was transferred to the Astley Ainslie in Grange Loan, where he spent three months in rehabilitation.
“They were just amazing. I had to learn to read, write, walk, talk, dress, wash, brush my teeth, comb my hair, socialise... pretty much everything, all over again. After the three months I was treated as an outpatient and I think it took nearly eight years before I felt totally healed.”
Though still blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, James, who now lives in The Jewel and works as a scaffolder, feels he has put the accident far behind him.
“These days it feels like it must have happened to someone else, I don’t feel like it happened to me. People don’t believe me either, when I tell them about it. And he thinks exercise has a lot to do with his positive outlook on life.
“Running has really helped me, it really is my anti-depressant. If I’m feeling down, I go out for a run and by the time I’m finished I feel like I’m on top of the world. I joined a running club about a year ago. It’s nice to get to know some people who share my interest, most of my old mates are more into going out drinking. I was used to running alone and never thought you could speak and run at the same time, but now I’m a total yap. The guys who run with me sometimes say ‘For God’s sake James, I come out running to try and get peace from the wife and I spend the whole time having to listen to you!’
“I’ve been doing the Edinburgh Run every year for the past few years, and this year I thought I would get my son Ethan involved, so as well as the main run I’ll be doing the kids’ 2.5K run with him straight after.
“I’m really pleased that my wee boy likes to run. He actually saw my picture in the paper a few years ago when I did the marathon and said he wanted to be like his dad.”
And Ethan, nine, who attends Brunstane Primary School, certainly seems to share his dad’s enthusiasm.
He said: “I’ve been running for about a year and I go out running with my dad maybe twice a week. We go round Holyrood Park. I don’t really have a favourite bit of the park, it’s all really nice.
“I’m doing the race because of my dad. He had an accident a few years ago and now he likes to run all the time. The furthest I’ve ever run in one go was a mile and that took me about 45 minutes. That was about five weeks ago and I did it as part of my training. I think the run on Sunday will take about an hour. I’m very excited about it.”
Though Ethan is the only one of James’ three children running on Sunday, he makes sure Nia, seven, and Cian, five, also stay active.
James said: “I take them swimming and we also go cycling down the Portobello promenade. It’s good to keep fit and I think it helps build their confidence too.”
When Ethan, who lists PE, maths, break and lunch as his favourite school subjects, is asked whether he thinks his dad will be able to keep up with one run already behind him that day, he considers for a minute before answering: “Yes, my dad will probably be tired, so I might be running ahead of him. “
“No way!” says James. “I’m addicted to running, so I’m really looking forward to doing one after the other. The last time I finished in 45 minutes 35 seconds and I’ll be looking to improve on that. You’re supposed to get slower as you get older but I seem to be getting faster! The first time I did the run I finished in 1 hour 11 minutes, then the next time it was 52 minutes.
“Mind you, this year, partly thanks to the tram works, a lot of the course is uphill. Thanks guys! So I might actually take a bit longer.”
The BUPA Great Edinburgh Run is on Sunday, with the 5K beginning at 9.30am and the 10k at 10.15am. The Junior Run starts at 1.45pm.