Published: 00:01, 17 August 2016
Lorry driver Keith Willis is desperately trying to piece together nine lost weeks of his life after a near-fatal crash left him with a catalogue of injuries and put him in a coma for 36 days.
The father-of-two said: "I can't remember anything about my last two weeks before that crash or the seven weeks afterwards.
"And I certainly don't remember anything about the crash itself.
"That split second has ruined my life and turned my world upside down."
His wife, Polly, said: "It has been catastrophic. We are managing as best we can but it has devastated us.
"It has completely wrecked our lives."
The 36-year-old's nightmare began at 3.45am on May 19 as he drove from his home in Rose Street, Sheerness, to Strood to pick up his lorry.
Police crash experts now believe his car hit standing water on the A249 beneath Key Street roundabout at Sittingbourne and aquaplaned into the central reservation.
The force spun his car round to face the wrong way and knocked him unconscious.
As he lay slumped at the wheel, a lorry smashed into him, pushing his Renault Modus forward 150 metres.
Keith was left with shattered ribs, four fractures to his spine, damaged vertebrae, two collapsed lungs and a paralysed intestine.
The shock set off a brain haemorrhage which left him with a stroke he is still trying to recover from. The car was a write-off.
"It has been catastrophic. We are managing as best we can but it has devastated us. It has completely wrecked our lives" - Polly Willis
He said: "All I know is that, according to Polly, I left for work as normal that morning.
"The next thing I remember was waking up in hospital with tubes all over me.
"As far as I was concerned I had just been knocked out. I started pulling the tubes out so I could carry on going to work. I had no idea what injuries I had sustained.
"The medication had deadened the pain. I learned later that doctors had to keep me in an induced coma for 36 days to let my body recover."
Unknown to Keith, he was taken to King's College Hospital, London, in an ambulance with a police escort. The Kent Air Ambulance helicopter could not land because of low cloud. He was kept there until June 24 and then transferred to Medway Maritime Hospital.
After a spell at home he was sent to Kent and Canterbury Hospital's neuro-rehabilitation unit on July 27 and was discharged seven days ago on August 10.
This week he came into our sister paper the Sheerness Times Guardian's office to read reports of the crash in the hope they would jog his memory.
Polly, 36, said: "We are trying to come to terms with Keith's injuries and carry on.
"But it doesn’t stop. It’s like living in a bubble. Keith can’t work now because his driving licences have been suspended so we have no money coming in.
"Luckily, we have had help from our family but it’s very difficult. For weeks I lived in London by his bedside."
Keith added: "Our eldest son Harry, 13, knows all about it but the first time he saw me in hospital covered in tubes he ran away. He knows his dad is different and he doesn’t like it.
"Our youngest son, Ryelee, five, used to love clambering into bed with us but now he knows he can’t in case he hurts me. It’s a living nightmare."
But Polly said: "It could have been worse. We could have lost Keith. At times it was touch and go. Doctors said he had life-threatening injuries.
"And they are surprised he can walk. They didn’t think he would be able to do that.
"But many can’t understand he has had a stroke. Everyone seems to think only old people get a stroke."
She added: "I hope this helps people realise the full impact a crash can have on people’s lives.
"And if anyone remembers the crash and can help piece it all together for Keith we’d be really grateful."
Anyone who can help is asked to call the newsroom on 01795 580300.