The Prince, the Dream and the Prosthesis
Life smiled on the carefree "king of the road" and in 2018 a dream came true for Roy Swillens: the boy of the village became Prince Roy l of the Graasbörgers in Susteren. A year later, Roy Swillens lost both legs in an accident with his truck. Now the old prince with prosthetics is looking for a new meaning in his life.
Roy Swillens is early on March 20, 2019 for his employer. On the German A42 motorway, he drives his truck towards Dortmund, the body filled with material intended for a waste processor. The carnival of that year is still fresh in the memory of the bon vivant and former prince. A year earlier he saw his dream come true with a steady look: the boy from the village became Prince Roy l. A great time, but now he is working in the truck cabin, on the asphalt, on that other dream: to become king of the road, with hopefully his own transport company in the not too distant future. It's all within reach.
Then, out of the blue, red brake lights. Together with a dazzling, low-lying spring sun, a life-threatening combination. At Camp Lintfort, Roy crashes at full speed onto the truck that drives in front of him. The cabin detaches from the chassis, which shoots under the predecessor. Roy has never seen the blow coming, nor knows anything about it. It gets stuck in the compressed cab. Rescuers struggle to free him from the plight. The hellish pain sets Roy in shock. In the two weeks that follow, he is kept artificially in a coma. Due to various cerebral hemorrhages, his family and girlfriend lived between hope and fear during that period.
When Roy awakens from the coma, he turns out to be surprisingly clear-headed. The attending physician asks who is in the room “Yes, there is Dad. And there is mom. Why does the guy need to know that? I also remembered my phone number. All important matters. Later I asked my father about my debit card. It's not about anything, but I thought I would need it. My father started laughing, "You don't remember your PIN," he said. When I could name it like that, they knew it would be okay in my head. "
Roy's lower legs are already amputated. That was communicated to him by the doctors, but that message does not completely fall at first. When he wakes up one night and has to go to the toilet, disillusionment follows. “Of course I had a lectern, I could just let everything run. When I wanted to get out of bed, all the equipment I was attached to flew over me. I stood on the stumps and then fell forward. Only then did I realize that I had lost both my legs. ”
Roy is hospitalized in Germany for three and a half months, then in Zuyderland in Sittard, and stays internally for another five weeks at the Adelante rehabilitation center in Hoensbroek. When he returns home after six months, a new blow follows. “It is no longer just going to the cupboard and grabbing chips. Suddenly you have to ask for everything. Everything takes much longer. I have to get up at least an hour earlier if I have to go somewhere: wash, put on prosthetics, things like that. I'm still having a hard time accepting that. You will become more convenient at it over time. At least I hope so. ”
The past few months have been tough for Roy, both physically and mentally. “I struggled with myself for a long time. That went so far that I was about to commit suicide. Pretty soon I got to the top of the stairs in Germany to drop down with equipment and everything. At home in bed I have often thought about it. That was really a dark period.
Then my relationship ended. A decision I made that my ex agreed with. It was very difficult, precisely because she did everything for me. Not a bad word about her. But I didn't want her to change her life for me.
When it was over, I met another girl at Adelante. A woman of my age who has been missing both lower legs since birth. I had a lot of support for her, she really cheered me up, told me what is possible if you have to miss both legs. That took a while, but it was a short-lived relationship. Now I have contact with my ex again. In hindsight, I didn't do things right with her. I regret that. We'll see how it goes. ”
His weekly schedule with Adelante is more or less top sport. “Life with such a prosthesis is hard work. You spend all day using all your muscles. If only to stay upright. Sports gives me the relaxation.
I also join the Adelante handbiking team that will be climbing an Austrian mountain in a few months. That is a concrete goal and I have many more. Just like in the carnival time in the pub. Do what I always did, beer with friends. And then hope that it may all be as much as possible before the accident.
(Author Rob Stikkelbroeck)