‘All I could do was scream’ - Mother-of-two shares the painful impact of an electric shock
- Credit: Andy Tabiner
Sarah Glew suffered an electric shock in a freak accident which almost killed her. Eighteen months on, after a determined recovery, she has run a marathon. It could have been a different outcome were it not for her autistic son. JESSICA FRANK-KEYES reports
It was a day which will never be forgotten by Sarah Glew and her family.
During a summer's night in July, 2016, Mrs Glew, then 38, planned to take a shower after a finishing a training run for what would be her first marathon.
She returned to her Foulsham home to find the boiler wasn't working.
Mrs Glew's husband, Andy Tabiner, explained over the telephone how to fix it.
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She switched off the mains and began to unscrew part of the boiler when she was suddenly thrown across the room.
She said: 'I saw a massive white light and it threw me across the bathroom.
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'I was in horrible pain. My whole body was convulsing. All I could do was scream.'
But the mother-of-two said her first thought was reassuring her young children, Harry and Freya - who had seen the accident - that she was okay.
Harry Tabiner-Glew, who has autism, was only eight at the time.
While his little sister tried to help by getting a plaster, Mrs Glew said: 'He calmly picked up my phone and said 'Daddy, I think Mummy's in trouble.'
'In that moment his emotional detachment was so helpful. It meant my husband was able to get help for me.'
Mr Tabiner sent friends to who attended to his wife and check her condition.
Mrs Glew said: 'As a mum you do say 'I'm okay' and I tried to insist I was fine. But blisters were forming on my hands and feet and I convulsed all night. I couldn't use my right arm and my right foot was excruciatingly painful.
'I only called 111 the next day when my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.
'They sent an ambulance straight away. My resting heart rate was 130 BPM.
'I had burn marks on my foot where the current had gone all the way around me. If it hadn't exited my body, I'd be dead.'
Mrs Glew had been due to run the Norfolk Coastal Marathon in the autumn of 2016.
Instead, she spent ten months recovering from the injuries.
She said: 'I was on so much medication from nerve damage and I can never wear heels again.
'It is the psychological shock as well. When you know you shouldn't be here, it does affect you. I used to cry when I had to plug in my phone charger.'
But she was determined to push herself - and in 2017, she decided it was time to try again.
The family had been fighting to get Harry into a specialist school.
Mrs Glew said: 'When we finally got him into The Wherry, in Norwich, it really felt like a turning point in life. If things could work out for him, I could do this.
'The children and I started training together. They would ride up to 20 miles on their bikes with me while I ran.
'Harry was wonderful at distracting me from the pain in my foot.'
Mrs Glew set up a JustGiving page to fundraise for The Wherry.
She hoped to raise £500 - but her inspirational story struck a chord with donors, and she raised £1,032.17.
She ran the Norfolk Coastal Marathon on October 28 and described it as 'really tough.'
'It was such a windy day, and we had to run over horrible beaches, sand dunes, and muddy paths. But it was a such a personal milestone - I had to do it.'
She added: 'I was an emotional wreck. I kept thinking 'I'm here, and I've done this with an injury that will never go away'.
'Harry and Freya were cheering me on and my family and friends finished the race with me.
'But all the people who supported and sponsored me... they just shattered my expectations of only raising £500.
'They all helped me across the finish line.'
And it was worth it, Mrs Glew said, to help the school which she described as life-changing.
She said: 'All of these kids have really struggled in other schools.
'To see children that have had such tough years enjoy education again, it's an amazing place.'
Harry has settled in well and his mum said: 'He is flying.'
She said: 'Of course he has his bad days, but this isn't about being a cure. It's about enabling children to access the world in their own way, and stop trying to mould them into fitting our expectations.'
Mrs Glew belongs to The Wherry Friends Association, who fundraise for the school. They recently held a Christmas fair, which raised more than £2,500.
The group is hoping to kit out a sensory room, which will cost the school £10,000.
Donations can be made at The Wherry Friends Association website.
What is the Wherry School?
The Wherry School, on Hall Road, Norwich, is a specialist free school for pupils with autistim spectrum disorder (ASD).
It opened its doors in September 2017 to 48 pupils, aged between four and 19 years of age.
A bid to open the school initially took place four years ago, and will eventually take unto 100 children.
It has specialist classrooms and spaces and areas for support professionals to work with its pupils.
The school has been built to ease the pressures on special school places in the region.
Its principal, Rachel Quick, was formerly headteacher at Freethorpe Primary School.
The school has been supported by the Norwich Rotary Club, who equipped a specialist room for pupils.
Department for Education (DfE) figures released in July stated that there were 1,400 children with ASD alone in Norfolk schools in January 2017, with 627 at primary, 480 at secondary and 293 in special schools.
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