Late Tuesday afternoon, October 7, 2014 and a 15-year-old Katie Damer is waiting at a red light on Bury’s Dumers Lane as she cycles home from school. She’s soaked, the cold has turned her knuckles white and she just wants to get home for her tea.
Eventually the glow from the traffic lights changes from red to green and she sets off. Unfortunately, so does the ten-tonne truck crossing the same junction from Katie’s right. The truck can’t avoid hitting her. The impact knocks her flying off her bike and onto the wet tarmac. Her bike is on top of her leg. She watches in slow motion as the giant truck crushes her back wheel with her leg under it. She thinks it’s going to completely run her over, but it doesn’t. It stops. Inches from her head.
“I was lucky,” says Mancunian actor and writer Katie, now 23. “The truck had just set off, so it was going slowly. I remember it frame by frame, the truck coming at me. I thought I was going to die. It was strange. I ran through every single person in my life in my head thinking I’m never gonna have the chance to speak to them again or say bye to them.”
What followed was months of excruciating pain, endless hospital appointments and getting used to walking with a Zimmer frame. Eventually, Katie was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and was told she may never walk unassisted ever again. A lifetime in a wheelchair was a real possibility. It was devastating news for a young teenager, who just wanted to be out partying with her mates.
That was eight years ago. The road to recovery has been slow and Katie admits she “went off the rails” for a while and suffered from panic attacks. But with determination, strength and sheer hard work, Katie has achieved what many said was impossible. She is not only back on her feet, but running full pelt ahead.
Amazingly, last October, the feisty and funny Katie crossed the finishing line of the Manchester Marathon after five-plus hours on her feet; she has just completed a drama degree at Chichester and has now turned her life-changing accident into a hilarious and emotional one-woman show called Totally Trucked.
I met Katie in Manchester’s Koffee Pot café in between rehearsals and her shifts behind the bar in a nearby Wetherspoon and asked her why she would want to relive the accident – the worst episode of her life – on stage every night?
She said: “I just thought I should write my story and hopefully it can provide a lot of hope for people. I cried for two solid hours after the marathon. It was seven years and three days after I got run over. It was so emotional, to be able to do that after all the trauma I had.”
“I think we need more stories like that in the world. There’s so many terrible things happening all over the place and I just felt it was almost criminal to not tell it and let people know that, yes, things can get really bad, but you can come out of it.
“There’s a big bit at the end of the play that’s about embracing every moment and telling everyone you love how much you love them. That’s what it’s about, really – love, humanity and hope.
“If you focus on the right side of things, you can find the little gems that actually make everything feel worth it. The play is just a sort of a reminder for people that it’s gonna be alright.”
Totally Trucked is part of Greater Manchester Fringe with three shows at The Peer Hat in the Northern Quarter on July 18-20, 2022. The show will also be performed at London’s The Rose Theatre on July 8, 2022.
Tickets available from https://linktr.ee/totallytrucked