When Scottie Elliott met Katie at their very first beginners' Lindy Hop dance lesson, he had a strong feeling they were fated to be together.
Their love blossomed over the next six months, but was put to the ultimate test when Scottie sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The council worker was cycling in thick fog along the sea front at night when he crashed head first into an unlit bus shelter.
He wasn’t wearing a cycle helmet and his head took the full force of the impact, which caused his traumatic brain injury.
He spent four days in a coma and suffered damaged vertebrae, multiple facial fractures and a fractured skull.
Katie was told he may never wake up, or that if he did, he may no longer be the same person due to the extent of his injuries. But she was reassured by the support she received from hospital staff.
She said: “The staff at Hurstwood Park Hospital were just fantastic.
“When I went in I was so shocked and upset. This nurse sat with me and talked me through all the different possible outcomes.
“They were so brilliant. Not just what they did for Scottie but what they did for me, they made me cups of tea, they gave me hugs. They explained why I couldn’t go in and see him.”
Thankfully, Scottie woke up from his coma and knew exactly who Katie was.
“Over the next few days I felt the shock and the relief of being alive,” he said.
“But my life was suddenly turned upside-down. I was in pain, on morphine, having MRIs and surgical procedures.
“I was transported for scans and operations between hospitals, remaining in my hospital bed or on a gurney for three weeks. For somebody as active as I had been, that was very scary.”
Although doctors feared he may never walk again, Scottie dreamed of dancing with Katie once more.
We went through so much together in those whirlwind months after our first dance.
“I knew if we could make it through that we could get through anything together.”
Katie constantly stayed by his side while he was in his coma, then drove the 50-mile round trip to visit him at Hurstwood Park Brain Injury Unit every day throughout his recovery.
Initially, Scottie was unable to grip with his right hand while doctors also feared he would be unable to walk.
“Although I could move my legs, I was unable to walk,” said Scottie. “But I dreamed of wandering around my little garden, mountain-biking on the South Downs National Park and dancing again.”
Not long after taking his first tentative steps the couple shared a special moment – their first dance together since the accident.
“We like to do a Lindy Hop move called a ‘swing out’,” explained Katie. “We found ourselves alone in the corridor. We hadn't really been alone very much because he had been receiving so much care from the staff.
“In a rare unsupervised moment, we did the swing out. It was lovely – although very unglamorous as I’d helped him to the toilet!”
After going through such an ordeal in the few short months they had been together and coming out the other side, Scottie knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Katie.
Scottie said: “Perhaps above all it highlighted the love and devotion of a woman I had not known very long, but from that moment I knew that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
I knew that if we could get through this together with love, patience and even a little laughter, we could get through anything.
Just six months after the accident, Scottie took Katie on a romantic trip to Paris and proposed to her at a pavement café in the shadow of the Sacre-Coeur in Montmarte.
Katie said: “I wasn't expecting the proposal at the time, which was silly because everyone else was.
“In hindsight, a holiday to Paris was kind of obvious!
“After the accident, he knew I would be with him no matter what. I would have arrived at that conclusion as well, but the accident made it very clear just how much he mattered to me.”
Exactly one year after Scottie’s accident, the couple shared their first dance as a married couple at their wedding party on Brighton sea front, just metres from the spot where they almost lost each other forever.
The wedding really did bring a sense of closure to a year-long journey that had changed my life.
“It made a special day extra-special. Every year since, my wife and I have taken a walk along the seafront to where I suffered my brain injury.
“I still have some physiological issues, but my brain injury has undoubtedly made me a better person and has brought Katie and me even closer. I am eternally grateful to Headway and the NHS for my continuing recovery.”
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