Caleb will be 16 in a few weeks’ time.  He’s friendly and funny and so positive that you’d never think that, only a few short months ago, he was rushed in to the major trauma unit after a freak accident.  Since that day in July, Caleb has spent six weeks lying flat on his back and faces many more months of gruelling rehabilitation as an inpatient before he’s able to return home again.  Despite everything, Caleb doesn’t complain and when you ask him what he’s looking forward to when he finally goes home, it’s the simple pleasure of his own bed.


Caleb was helping to lift decking in his uncle’s garden when the whole lot fell on top of him, crushing his spine.  His mum Natalie remembers getting the call and trying to stay calm on the way over by telling herself that Caleb would have suffered a broken leg at worse.  She knew instantly that it was more than that though when she arrived to see two ambulances, ten paramedics, a police car and an air ambulance.


Caleb’s memory from the time of the accident is sketchy.  He says he can remember holding his hands up to try and stop the wood from falling, the initial excruciating pain and the strange sensation of being unable to move his legs.

Caleb was rushed to the trauma unit where he underwent emergency CT scans and an MRI to establish his injuries. The process was a long and painstaking one and Caleb by this point was on a lot of pain medication.  He says: “I’d never been in hospital before so it was all completely new to me.  I think I got used to it pretty quick though.  In those first four hours on the trauma unit, I went from very scared to just pretty bored.”


Scans revealed that Caleb had broken several vertebrae – from his T11 to his L3, and his spinal cord had been crushed.  He was taken to children’s theatre where surgeons inserted two rods and eight screws in to his back to stabilise it.  Caleb was in theatre and recovery for six hours and following surgery he was unable to move at all for the first few days.  He regained the use of his arms on day three but would need to lie completely flat for a full six weeks so that his back could have a chance to heal. He developed bed sores so the nurses have to change his position every two hours.


Now seven weeks in, Caleb and his mum are waiting for a bed to become available at Stoke Manderville Hospital where he will start the long process of rehabilitation. In the meantime he has physio sessions twice a day and the team surrounding him are delighted with his progress.  Very slowly, Caleb is starting to regain some sensation in his legs and his feet, which he hasn’t been able to feel at all until recently, are starting to tingle.  He’s able to lie on his stomach for short periods and by the end of next week, it’s hoped that Celeb will be able to graduate to a chair!


Though Caleb is enthusiastic and feeling determined to conquer what lies ahead so he can get back to living his life as soon as possible, he says he’ll really miss the team at Noah’s Ark when he leaves.  Mum, Natalie, says: “We’ve had such incredible support here.  The nurses are constantly in and out checking on Caleb and Kylie, our play specialist, is always in here with things to keep him entertained. She nominated Caleb for to receive a treat from the Noah’s Ark Charity Sparkle fund too which is lovely of her.  When Caleb was able to go to the physio room for his rehab sessions for the first time, Kylie was jumping around outside the door in celebration. It’s very much like everyone here celebrates our small victories with us which is such a lovely feeling when Caleb is so far away from his family and friends. In a weird way, though it feels like the days go on for ever, we’ll be sad to say goodbye to this place.”