A Derry father-of-two who sustained terrible injuries after falling from a second storey window while sleepwalking has spoken publicly for the first time about his “nightmare condition”.
Graham Dawick (36), from the Waterside, spent weeks recovering in hospital after plummeting fifteen feet from his son’s bedroom window.
His injuries included a ruptured bladder, serious abdominial and back injuries, a series of hernias and a large gash to the head which required more than 30 stitches.
A doctor later told him that his injuries were consistent with a serious car accident or a fall from a significant height.
Graham says that, as a result of the accident, he remains in constant pain and now walks with the aid of a stick.
“I’m in absolute agony every day,” he told the ‘Journal’. “Whether at home or work, the pain never leaves me.”
The Derry man, who continues to sleepwalk, says he felt compelled to speak out after a 27-year-old English man sleepwalked to his death just last month.
Rob Williams, who suffered from the condition since childhood, fell 13 foot from a second-floor window at a hotel in Hertfordshire.
Graham, who now keeps all windows in the house firmly locked and has even removed the handle from his bedroom door, says: “I just want the public to realise that sleepwalking isn’t a joke or something to be laughed at. I’m very, very lucky to be alive. I could have been killed.”
Graham’s life changed forever on September 18, 2010.
It was in the early hours of that morning that he fell 15 foot from a bedroom window during a terrifying sleepwalking accident.
In the fall, he smashed his head on the concrete surface of the backyard and sustained serious abdominal and back injuries, a ruptured bladder and a series of hernias.
More importantly, however, the incident was to dramatically change his life - so much so that he can now only walk with the aid of a stick and has to regularly attend pain relief clinics.
Graham recalls: “It was during the night that my partner, Pauline, was awoken by a loud banging at the back door.
“She headed downstairs, unlocked and opened the back door and found me standing there in just my underwear with my hand over my face. Pauline’s eyesight is poor when she’s not wearing glasses and, at that stage, she didn’t notice I was injured. I walked straight upstairs and got back into bed again.
“Pauline asked me why I was in the back yard but apparently I just mumbled something in reply.
“At 7 a.m., my son woke me as normal looking to use the toilet. I got out of bed and was looking after him when I glanced in the bathroom mirror and, to my horror, noticed that I had serious injuries to my face, was covered in blood and had a large laceration to my head.
“I also noticed that I was becoming increasingly sore and it was at this point that Pauline rushed into the bathroom to see what was wrong. She told me that I needed to get to hospital immediately.
“I asked her, ‘what happened to me?’, and she said she hadn’t a clue and told me she had found me earlier in the backyard in just my underwear.”
When Graham and Pauline subsequently arrived at the hospital, naturally enough a nurse inquired what had happened.
“I told her I hadn’t a clue and that I’d woken up in bed looking like this,” says Graham.
Meanwhile, with Graham admitted to hospital, a still-in-shock Pauline returned home to try to piece together what had happened. There was only one conclusion.
“I’d fallen out of my son’s bedroom window while sleepwalking,” says Graham. “Pauline found the window of his room wide open, the curtains blowing in the wind and, to her shock, a pool of blood in the yard where I’d hit the concrete floor.
“Before Pauline arrived back at the hospital with this news, a doctor had told me that there was only two ways I could have received my injuries. Either I’d been involved in a serious car accident or I’d fallen from a significant height.
“Amazingly, I have no recollection whatsoever of what happened. It’s like it never happened.”
It was ten months after the accident before Graham was able to return to work.
“I have been receiving pain and neurological medication which has been increased, changed and juggled in an effort to find me some relief.”
Graham has also been attending pain management clinics, as well as physios and chiropractors in an effort to cope with his “daily agony”.
“Prior to my sleepwalking accident, I was a very active person,” he says. “I now spend most of the day sitting and, when I do walk, it is only with the aid of a walking stick. I can’t enjoy all the activities that I’d like to with my two children.”