A WOMAN gored by a stag while she was on holiday in the Highlands has said she is lucky not to have been paralysed.
Kate Stone, 44, was put into an induced coma and underwent two major operations on her windpipe after being struck by the animal while enjoying a break at Lochailort, near Fort William last December.
In a newspaper interview published this weekend, Dr Stone said: “It’s a miracle I survived – especially when you consider that if a car hits a stag, the car’s usually a write-off.
“But I believe it was part of my path in life and part of that path was that I survived.”
The scientist was holidaying with friends when the incident happened. On their way home from a night out, the group came across the stag which had become trapped in the garden. Startled, it knocked her over and impaled her with its antlers.
Dr Stone said: “The stag got spooked, ran and I just happened to be in the way.
“I didn’t feel any pain, but looked down and saw a lot of blood and I was gurgling and struggling to breathe.”
She was rushed to hospital in Fort William, then was airlifted to be treated by specialists at Glasgow’s Southern General.
The antler had gone through her airway, fractured her neck, damaged the nerves to her vocal cords, gone through her oesophagus and spine, and stopped just short of her spinal cord. A few millimetres left or right would have severed a main artery, causing her to bleed to death. A fraction deeper and she could have been paralysed from the neck down.
Dr Stone said: “I woke up a week later but I wasn’t myself until about a week after that … I had crazy hallucinations which carried on after I woke up.”
Several months on, she said she still has flashbacks and nightmares. She added: “People think I made a miraculous recovery – and physically I did. But the mental scars will take a lot longer to heal.”
Dr Stone had to learn to walk, talk, write and even eat again.
She said: “The first day, I needed three people to help me out of bed. I took two steps on the spot, then vomited. The following day, I walked the length of the ward. It took all my strength, but I was determined.
“Even now my voice is still croaky. But every time something came back, it was like being given a gift. It’s only after losing the things you take for granted that you realise how lucky you are.”
Last week, Dr Stone returned to living in Cambridge and working at her hi-tech print company, Novalia, which she ran from her hospital bed, holding conference calls on Skype.