In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.- Theodore Roosevelt
6th May 2020- Today was the day of my telephone consultation with the therapist, half of me was really happy and hopeful I was getting professional help, and the other half of me knew Id be opening up and talking about things Id been avoiding for the last few weeks. Kind of a bittersweet day but I’d instigated the call in the first place so I was prepared to be honest and talk.
My phone rang…..lets do this!
An hour later I came downstairs and adopted my normal position on the sofa, I was quiet. I played the conversation over and over in my head, in retrospect it was hard, some of the questions had been tough but I gave honest answers, Id relived the accident and spoken in detail about my true feelings. I suddenly felt very alone, helpless and broken. The day before I’d had my bandages changed again and the prodding and poking always gave me more pain, which today only compounded things. The therapist was nice, they listened and agreed I needed to be scheduled for a course of sessions but here’s the kicker, there was a waiting list, it would be three months at least before I got to speak to someone. This was enough for me, Id held my nerve and projected a hard outer shell since the day after the accident, but now knowing I’d have to wait three months for therapy, I finally cracked and broke down. I’m not criticising the NHS, there was a waiting list, why should I be prioritised over the people in the queue in front of me, but I couldn’t wait three months, I needed help now. I couldn’t just put my emotions on hold and wait for them to come to me, everyday I was fighting but mentally I was deteriorating. I could feel the anger growing inside of me again.
Tomorrow I was back at hospital for my third operation and honestly I was anxious, I wasn’t worried about the operation specifically but just the toll on my body afterwards. Each time they operated on my hand it aggravated the wound again, they were going to take more skin grafts from my leg and I knew I would have to ramp up the painkillers again. All this from one moment of carelessness, I couldn’t help but crack just a little smile, what I’d put my mind and body through in the last three weeks beggared belief.
7th May 2020- The day of the operation swung round and walking back into the hospital like I had done so many times before just felt natural, like walking into work each day, but this was definitely not something I wanted to become a habit! The surgery was supposed to be an hour and the plan was to get me in, slice, stitch, patch me up, out the door and NEXT! I was comfortable with this, as nice as the staff were, I definitely preferred my own bed and home cooking. I was prepped for surgery and as is the routine, I repeated my name and date of birth as requested! I did think at one point they were going mad or just trying test me, but within the space of five minutes, three different people approached me one after another, asked me my details, smiled, thanked me and walked away. I did think to myself, are they all just hiding behind the corner taking the piss out of me? or was it to make sure I was of a sound mind or just to ensure some imposter hadn’t swapped places with me. Given my predicament I would of gladly swapped with anyone if it meant getting my fingers back, wishful thinking I know!
Two hours later I began to awake, a strange erie feeling washed over me again, I remember taking deep breaths and then I was gone, but then what felt like seconds I was back in the recovery room. I mentally scanned my body, my left hand was heavily bandaged again but I couldn’t feel anything from my shoulder. In the short term this was a good thing but I knew once the anesthetic wore off, old Mr Pain was just around the corner ready to resume his evil work. I patted my right thigh, it was still there so at least they’d been kind enough to leave me something! I was wrapped up tighter than a drum, hmmmmm were they trying to hide something?
As the day turned to night, it was beginning to get too late to go home so I opted to stay one more night in the delightful Hotel Royal Derby. (Note to self, I really must leave a trip advisor review! Friendly staff, comfortably spacious rooms, foods ok but Id be wary of the activities on offer, can often perhaps leave you a little sore the next day!!)
8th May 2020- I was up early like a kid on christmas morning, the excitement of going home was like a natural painkiller, yes I was feeling the usual pains but the excitement was overruling it this morning! Well done brain!! Oh the power of the mind.
Whilst I could look back on the last three weeks as the toughest and most challenging of my life, I can’t deny without them I would have never met so many wonderful and amazing people, people under any other circumstance I would have never thought I would need to reach out too. However in times of crisis and despair, regardless of the negativity and bad that exists in this world there is an even more powerful and positive side. I said early on in my blog that I used to be obsessed with reading the news, at first my objective was to just keep upto date with current affairs and be well read and informed, but I gradually got draw in and found nothing but negativity and conflict. As I have listened to Tony Robbins say hundreds of times, ‘what you focus on, you feel’
Since my accident I have practically ignored the world news media and chosen to seek out only the good and positive aspects of this world. I have reached out to so many people from so many different walks of life and each time found someone willing to help, or advise, or simply tell me their story, anything they thought that would help me through my own recovery. I have been incredibly sincere in my appreciation and written many emails and letters giving thanks and hope that I can keep in touch in the future. It is me that needed help in the last few weeks but in the future I hope that anyone of those people that I connected with, feel that they can contact me if they then need help themselves or just need a good ear to listen!
The list is long and out of respect for their privacy I don’t intend to post their names with exception for one. I recently chatted with a gentleman on Instagram who became an amputee some time ago, he endured the pain and suffering of losing a leg and so has experienced the highs and lows and gathered a lot of knowledge over the years. We exchanged a few messages and he gave me some great advice, he’s a thoroughly nice bloke and has a very positive outlook. He has begun a weekly podcast ‘The Amputee Diaries’ which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. If your a new amputee or a seasoned veteran I still encourage you to check him out and drop him an email email@example.com , if you have any ideas or thoughts for his show. I’ve found talking to doctors and health care professionals very useful but you can’t beat actually talking and discussing things with people that have gone through what your experiencing. So drop him an email and help grow the podcast, make it the place to go for a fun and informative discussion.
23rd April 2020- Over the last ten days or so life had been fairy hectic and mentally I had been very occupied and focused, whilst Id been in hospital I was almost under constant observation and at the touch of my call button I would be able raise any medical issue and get the response and reassurance I needed immediately. Being back home in familiar surroundings was a big step forward for me, it was fantastic to be back with my fiancee again but the pandemic lockdown meant I would need stay at home. I was missing my family but practically worldwide everyone was in the same position and so anytime negative thoughts popped into my head, I immediately tried to focus on the positives in my life. The pandemic was sweeping the UK and it had taken the lives of thousands of people, there were cases in the very hospital I had stayed in, so I counted my blessings that I was one of the lucky ones who was able to go home. I never stopped, and still do take a moment each day to say a small thanks in my head to every member of staff who unselfishly put the care of others before their own.
Coming from a small village does sometimes make you feel seperated from the rest of the world, big news stories are just things that we hear on the radio and see on the TV, I distinctly recall on the weeks prior to the lockdown, as we walked our dogs through the countryside we would occasionally bump into other people, and more often than not the pandemic would be the only topic. There was stout complacency from almost everyone particularly the older generation that the measures being taken by the government were over zealous, the whole thing as it played out each day on tv seemed more like a weird big brother style gameshow. Everyone had their own opinion and sadly it would seem that it would take a death of someone they knew or even worse a close family member before the true magnitude of the virus was fully appreciated. Then typically and hypocritically their attitudes would swing wildly in the opposite direction and they would then proclaim the government had been slow to act and had not gone far enough!
Regardless of the madness going on outside of my window, I was pleased to be at home and shut away from prying eyes. I still had not processed the loss of my hand and fingers and so was certainly not ready to begin answering questions from the locals. I knew this would eventually happen but I hoped I could do it in my own time. My story had made the local newspapers, I hadn’t resisted the opportunity to speak to the odd couple of reporters that tracked me down, it wasn’t a morbid intention of mine to turn my accident into a glamourous story, I hoped in the large part that it would just satisfy the local rumour mill, and as fast as it had spread and been of interest that week, in the coming days the heat would cool down and Id become tomorrow’s fish and chip paper!
Being back at home, even though I was nowhere near physically fit yet, each day my brain would lock onto normal everyday tasks and I would process each one and consider if I would still be able to do it. The list began to grow and whilst I still clung desperately to a positive attitude, It was becoming abundantly clear that life would be very different for me, not impossible but there would definitely need to be some alterations and adaptations. It was still very early days for me, my wounds were still raw and my body needed rest so it could heal, I needed to stay present, something I had tried to practise in the past with not much success. There were times when my mind flashed back to the accident, what if things had been different, what if, what if, what if? I had to close and bolt this mental door or it would drive me crazy. The fact was the accident had happened and there was nothing I could do to change it.
As each day passed I endeavoured to make it a good one no matter what the circumstances. I tried to look at each day as if it was a holiday or a celebration, well in fact it was a celebration of sorts, a celebration to be thankful for being alive. Each and everyday was unique to the calendar and would never happen again, so that surely was a great reason to be thankful. I recalled from one of the Tony Robbins videos I watched, I don’t remember the exact words but something like
“..if you can’t be happy and enjoy today then you sure as hell won’t be any different in a couple of weeks..”
I thought back to all the times Id been moody and miserable, all the days and weeks I’d wasted as time and opportunity had flown past me. Even up to the run up of a holiday, Id just say to myself ‘I’ll be fine once i’m on the beach’, but looking back now the last couple of holidays I’d had, I didn’t really enjoy myself, I spent a lot of time complaining, sharpening my sword each day for the impending tripadvisor review. What a waste of time and energy!
I began to consider the small things I could do each day which could be my routine, my rituals, things that would positive for me and those around me. Months before the accident I had read a book by Dale Carnegie which I found really interesting and uplifting, there were many principals within the book that I knew I could adopt without much physical effort
- Wake up, smile and be thankful.
- Spend 10-15 minutes clearing my mind and repeating positive affirmations
- Throughout the day, no criticism, no complaining, condemn nothing. As grandma used to say, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing!
- In every given situation, I try and put myself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
- Whoever is speaking to me, I simply listen and show a genuine interest in them.
- I meditate everyday, even if it’s just for 10 minutes
There’s plenty more I could add but I wanted to keep it small, there’s a discipline required to maintain a routine which I need to prove to myself that I can keep up!
Do you have any daily rituals? Id love to hear about them in the comments?
25th April- 3rd May 2020- If you’ve been following my story since post #1 then I thank you, never in my life did I imagine my life would take the direction it has but I’m grateful to everyone that has stopped by and dropped me a like, even these small gestures are like a pair of invisible hands helping to pick me up when I feel a little down. I’m still fairly incapacitated so the only exercise I can do at the moment is work my brain and try and be positive whenever I feel any negativity slipping in.
This whole experience still feels very surreal, I still havent seen my damaged hand yet, the painkillers are keeping me numb and the constant trips back and forth to hospital are keeping me busy, but I know the day will come when the bandages will come off and I will have to face the real image of a left hand that is less than perfect!
I always remind myself that what I’m going through, although very personal and considerable to me, in comparison to the suffering of other people around the world, its nothing. As I sit here now I only have to lift my head and glance around and realise how lucky and fortunate I really am. I have a roof over my head, I have a fiancee who loves me dearly, I have food in my kitchen and I am able get medical help with just one phone call without any worry or hesitation. Sure it would be amazing to have a shiny ferrari on the drive and a million pounds in the bank but would those thing make me truly happy and fulfilled, no!
I will still strive for financial security for my family but it’s the little things in life that are more important to me now and they will always take precedence over financial wealth. I ask you now to think, if you were stuck in the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles away from the nearest town or village with no phone, thirsty and injured, what good would money do for you? But if there was a kind person just over the next sand dune with water and supplies, a person that ordinarily you wouldnt give a second glance on the street, perhaps in that moment you would think a lot differently!?
I remain humbled and will do forever since the accident, my life is now set on a new course and only the feeling of being able to help others less fortunate motivates me to regain my strength and make a difference in this world.
Be kind to each other, you never know when you will be the one that needs help!
24th April 2020- Not a long post today but a very significant and salliant one for me. Today I was back at hospital to have my dressing changed, you’d think that just because it was my left hand it would be a simple and straightforward procedure, but each time and this one being no different, it turned out to be a tough couple of hours for me and the poor nurses involved.
The wound on my hand still needed a skin graft so it was still open and the nerve endings were unbelievably sensitive. As the nurses began to remove the outer bandages, I could feel my hand and arm tingling and within minutes I had stars in my vision. As they reached the skin it was all I could do to stop passing out, my entire body spasmed and went rigid, this was the first time that I had felt any serious pain, even more so than when I actually had the accident. The nurses stopped and we all took a breath, anybody outside of the curtain to have heard my moans and my rapid heavy breathing could of been forgiven for thinking that I might of been in labour. Now ladies I make a special point to interject here for fear of insulting you and the rest of womankind, I have never suffered or will suffer the pain of childbirth, I don’t make light of the subject but I was myself in considerable pain and this was the only thing that came to mind where I could make a suitable comparison. I trust now as you read this, if you have yourself endured the pleasure of the pain and perhaps are muttering under your breath that what I was experiencing was nowhere near the same level, please be assured my intentions are purely honourable and there is no offence intended, but that be said, my hand hurt, a lot!
It was at this point that the nurses decided to bring in the big guns and give me the gas, Id never had it before but I was willing to take anything that would reduce the pain. I took large deep breaths as instructed and within a few minutes as the nurses resumed their work, I became less and less concerned with my hand and more concerned with maintaining my new found blissful state. I huffed, they worked, the synergy was symphonic, within minutes they had removed the old bandages and had begun to seal me back up. I took a moment to relax and let the plastic mouthpiece rest on my forehead, I smiled to myself and simply thought, it didn’t matter how rich I could of been at that time, you could of offered me all the money in the world, the biggest diamond, a mountain of gold, Id turn every single pound of it down in a heartbeat if it meant having these nurses and that bottle of pain relieving gas. No amount of money would have eased my suffering, today I truly saw the true value of money and honestly it wasn’t that valuable at all.
The sad fact however remains that many of us live our lives in a society today where the need for money cannot be ignored. The days after the accident I began to research prosthetics and while I was under no illusion if I was a suitable candidate, they wouldn’t be cheap, I was a little surprised how much it would be just for the piece to restore some functionality and aesthetics to my hand, £5000+. Here in the UK we are fortunate to have the NHS, I realise many people are not so lucky, particularly in the USA. Not from a perspective of not having a very competent and professional health care system more so from the point of the incredible cost of health insurance. I read an article the other day from the point of people who had had accidents and actually paused before they called the emergency services, they considered the financial implications over their immediate medical needs, now that is a scary thought and made me even more grateful for the NHS.
I do have some options with the NHS but there is a point at which I will need to financially support myself, I don’t have a specific health insurance policy and the policies I do have unfortunately don’t cover for ‘stupid’. In these current times with the pandemic and the impending economic downturn, my timing couldn’t be worse but I have set-up a funding page and included the link below. Most of you, and I can’t blame you, are probably rolling your eyes back, yes this accident was my own fault and I will pay the price for the rest of my days but if your able to throw me a small donation, I would be very grateful. Or if you could just share this that would equally be appreciated. Hopefully in the near future when Im back to strength I will be able to start paying back all the kindness I’ve received so far, I’ve reached out to many charities and support groups in the last couple of weeks and it’s made me realise there are a LOT of more deserving people in a far worse position who need help.
22nd April 2020- It had been five days since my second surgery and whilst I was still pretty sore physically, mentally I was a few days ahead and was clinging onto my positive attitude for dear life. Everyday since the operation a steady stream of doctors and nurses visited me for various reasons and every time I tried to smile and be as welcoming and as pleasant as possible, yes I was in pain but I knew they were taking care of me.
The morning straight after the operation the surgeon had been to see me and explained what had happened. As far as I knew the plan had been to simply remove the part of my left hand and fingers that had been re-attached the night I was admitted, and then take a piece of skin from the top of my thigh to dress the wound, something which should of only taken a few hours. However as always with me nothing was simple and straightforward, there had been complications and for whatever reason the surgery had gone on for almost 12 hours, my surgeon and his team had worked tirelessly but couldn’t make it work. The plan now was just to let me heal for a few days, Id had almost 20 hours of surgery in the past week, my left was hand heavily bandaged and the top of my thigh felt like someone had placed a hot iron on it. The pain meds were working to contain the worst of it but I knew the time would be coming when I would need to reduce my intake and let my body accept some pain whilst it healed itself.
After 10 days it was finally time to head home, mentally this was a huge boost for me, every member of staff had been amazing and shown me such kindness and compassion but I needed to be home. They patched me up one more time with clean dressings, attached a negative pressure vac to my hand, packed me a bag with enough medication to start my own pharmacy and wished me well.
Whilst I was going home I knew deep down this was just the start of my new journey, the surgeons were still in the background making plans for the next stage of my treatment. The covid-19 pandemic was still very much in the headlines and was an added complication, but testament to the sheer determination, professionalism and dedication of the hospital, they were undeterred and I felt assured I was safely in their hands.
I don’t remember the exact date but it was sometime around October 2009, I had just been made redundant and in my mind my world had ended. I had enjoyed 11 years of a career that had had a steady trajectory upwards and I was cocooned in a bubble of complacency, and then in the blink of an eye it was all over. I was thrust into an unfamiliar world feeling naked and vulnerable, not knowing which way to turn. Prior to this I was happy and felt like I knew which direction my life was going but now it felt like my life map was blank and my internal compass was spinning wildly.
A few days later after another day of trawling through endless job adverts I was losing hope rapidly, I had not long purchased a house and taken out a large loan to finance some home improvements and so was starting to feel the pressure. I sat up in bed and did the one thing I had never done in my life, I knelt down and prayed. I prayed for a job, I gripped my hands together until my knuckles went white and I held that position until it physically became too much. This for me was the last resort, I was by no means religious but I was willing to try anything. I prayed again on the second night and then again the following night.
Three weeks later I began my new job, to say I was happy would be an understatement, more relieved would probably be more an accurate description. Quickly the notion of prayer was forgotten and I slid back into the rat race picking up where I left off three weeks before, sure I had been the one submitting the applications and making the phone calls but I never really looked back and reflected how much my prayers had contributed to my success?
I was gainfully employed again but the redundancy had rattled me and shaken my confidence, I turned to therapy and over the course of the next ten years I tried various forms with little to no success. Ignorantly it would take my recent accident and ten years to remind me of the power of prayer.
My first proper attempt to return my life to normal was hypnotherapy, this was a few months after first losing my job, whilst I found it relaxing, it was an expensive way to relax for an hour and my mind was so active I never felt deeply enough hypnotised to feel any sense of disassociation. It was at this point that my second signpost was presented to me although it would take me almost 8 years to discover it despite the fact the therapist had placed it in my hand. After finishing a session, the therapist handed me a CD and said I should listen to it as it may help me, I never did listen to it and it just ended up in a box in my office. Fast forward 8 years, I was sorting through old boxes when I came across the CD again, for the first time I slid it out of its paper case and looked at the front of it, it simply read “Anthony Robbins”. I laughed out loud, I knew exactly who he was now, I’d watched a documentary on Netflix about him a while ago but back when I was first given the CD he was completely new to me. Oh how different my life could of been if i’d listened to his words earlier on in my life, perhaps my life would be so very different now?
My third signpost was more of my own doing, wise words which I chose to ignore. Christmas 2016 was one that I will never forget for many reasons, I was drinking fairly heavily on the lead up to the holiday as many of us do but I was predominantly drinking alone. Christmas had been losing its magic for years and while it should of been a time to celebrate, I had grown to hate it and instead of counting down the days to the big day, I would be wishing for it to be over as quick as possible. It was the 23rd December and I had broken up from work and was headed home, but I felt different, something wasn’t right. I don’t even remember the drive home, I was in a dark head space and nothing I could do could snap me out of it. I cracked opened a bottle of whisky thinking I could literally pour christmas cheer into me and drank myself to sleep. The following morning I knew as soon as I opened my eyes something was not right, the whole world to me was grey, it’s hard to explain but colours had lost meaning and everything I looked at made me feel sad. A melancholy had taken over me and was following me around the house like a grey ghost, no matter where I went in my house it followed me. It was Christmas eve but celebrating couldn’t of been further from my mind, as day turned into evening the feeling of despair inside of me grew, by 6pm I could feel the panic rising inside of me. I had never felt anything like this before in my life, I was scared, I felt like I was losing my mind and my inner monologue was running out of control. I called my sister and told her I needed help, she came as fast as she could and took me to hospital, after speaking with the doctor I was immediately referred to the mental health team. Unbeknownst to me I had suffered a panic attack, without doubt the most scariest thing I had ever endured in my life, it had shook me to my core and brought me to my knees. I spent the rest of Christmas with my parents, it was almost a week before I felt normal again but it had definitely scared me for life.
As 2016 disappeared and 2017 crept in I decided I needed give myself a permanent reminder of the aforementioned event and so decided to get a tattoo. It was something I would never of normally thought of doing but life had been showing me how unpredictable it could be and my mind had been expanded by feelings I never knew possible following my panic attack, so the prospect of a tattoo was nothing. I opted to have something discreet on each of my inner biceps, two simple messages to perhaps guide me through the rest of my life which I roughly translated into latin. ‘Live each day as if its your last and learn everyday as if you’ll live forever’ and ‘Never forget, where there is life there is hope’. Fantastically profound and useful but ultimately lost on me, their position meant that I barely ever saw them during the day and given the fact they were camouflaged in latin, the messages they were meant to convey lost their power and meaning. If this was indeed another signpost in my life, it was more the signpost had been knocked over and was now left in the ditch covered in weeds!
This blog was not my first attempt at covering my life, I had attempted blogs twice before but each time under a pseudonym. Previously I was scared to reveal my true self and accept that I was struggling, I admit each time was a cry for help but after my recent accident I came to the realisation that there was nothing more to be scared about. Life had been subtly trying to push and navigate me back on the right path but I had been stubbornly resisting and now I had paid the price. Life would never be the same but that said I still had a chance to enjoy what was left ahead of me and now I had more reason than ever to change direction.
Take heed of my words good people, dont ignore lifes signposts no matter how subtle they are. There are powers greater than us that are watching over us.
Prior to the accident I was not a religious person and even now in my capacitated and amended state, I would still not call myself religious but I can’t lie and say I didn’t utter a prayer or three over the past few days. I prayed for my first surgery to be successful, which unfortunately it wasn’t, maybe that was Gods way of saying “uh uh uh!!! you cant just dip your toe in the water when its suits you mate, you need to show some sincere faith and belief if you want help from above!”
My life had not been a productive one beforehand, I wasn’t a bad person but I certainly hadn’t embraced the gift of life and seized upon the opportunities that laid before me. I was full of resentment, repressed anger and had lost my way, I was searching for answers and was getting nowhere. Looking back over the last few years there were clear sign posts, messages screaming at me with answers, if I had just lifted my head a little higher perhaps I would of seen them in time. As they say, you won’t find answers at the bottom of the bottle, I wasn’t an alcoholic but I did choose a glass of wine more often than not to drown out the world.
Nothing in life excited me and I had become so blinkered I couldn’t see how good I really had it, which led me to my cavalieristic attitude and the resulting accident which cost me part of my left hand and three fingers. I had paid the ultimate price and now had no choice but to embark on a more worthwhile life otherwise I would just shrink and die.
I never looked down at anyone but I would be liar if I didn’t say my inner monologue didn’t occasionally go wild when I saw someone or something that didn’t fit with my perception with what I deemed as normal or socially acceptable. Sat in a cafe or bar or just walking down the street, my radar would scan wildly and I would find myself mentally judging people. There was no ill intent, these thoughts were never meant for public viewing but I just couldn’t help myself sometimes and yet now I found myself with a target firmly placed upon me.
My left hand was now ‘wonky’, missing two fingers and a thumb, although Id not yet seen it, I knew it wouldn’t be pretty and walking down the street it would be completely out of place with what was considered normal. I would now be the one who would be judged, small children would point at me, others would either stare or try to sneak a look and wonder what had happened to me. I didn’t see the accident as a punishment, I had thoroughly brought it upon myself but over the days Id had to reflect on my new form, I decided that perhaps God had thought If I been able to regain my hand Id probably return to my old ways, so this needed to be a permanent lesson.
Seven was my lucky number and that was the number of fingers I had left now, so I took that as a good sign, the rest of my body was healthy and now I had a new chance of making the best of the life ahead of me. I was overwhelmed with the support from my family, fiancee and friends, in the day after I was contacted by a number of people who showed just how much I meant to them. They reached out to me and showed me true friendship and I was again humbled, the world wasn’t as bad a place as I had painted it in my head. There was a lot of good out there, I just needed to get the right filter and look past all the bad.
My inner judge was now retired for life, I now chose to only see the good in everyone around me.
17th April 2020- I had spent the week confined to my hospital room and despite having no visitors due to the pandemic the time had flown by. In between resting, I had kept myself really busy researching the strange new world of prosthetics, absorbing the positive words of Tony Robbins and preparing myself for the upcoming surgery. Well today was the day I had been waiting for, the surgery at the start of the week to re-attach my hand had not worked and so today they were removing the offending article and I would be beginning my life as an amputee. I was prepared for surgery and taken down to the theatre, I was still maintaining my positive outlook which presented me an odd juxtaposition. I was about to lose half my left hand and the fingers attached to it, which should of made me incredibly sad and depressed but yet I was feeling really upbeat and positive, so I had either accepted the fact or there was still a large dose of reality just around the corner ready to punch me straight in the face!
The nurses kept me chatting as always, a wonderful distraction technique whilst the others stabbed me and poked me with needles. The part that brought a smile to my face was when the nurse came in and started drawing on my left shoulder, I gently glanced over at her and gave her a slightly bemused look
‘Just making sure they operate on the correct hand’ she gleefully said
I was minutes away from a major surgery and after hearing this, I wasn’t sure if she was joking with me to lighten the mood or being serious, either way it didnt exactly fill me with confidence! I clenched my right hand into a fist and said a little prayer that he’d be there when I woke up. I began taking deep breathes as instructed and thought to myself it wasnt working and then on the fourth breath I was gone.
Having surgery is quite a experience, regardless of the time your on the operating table, it actually feels like your only there for a few seconds. Id gone into the theatre around 10am and was expecting the surgery to last a few hours, then in what felt like only a few seconds, I opened my eyes and I was back in my room in darkness. I could sense people around me and as my consciousness returned to normal I saw the clock on my wall, 10:20 pm, Id been out for 12 hours. As I started to stir, the nurse appeared at my side and offered me a drink which I gladly accepted. I felt sore all over, my left hand or what was left of it was now tightly bandaged and thankfully my right hand was still firmly attached to my body, I thought back to the nurse who had drawn on me and smiled, it wasnt such a bad idea after all!
Come the morning I was wide awake and felt re-connected to the world, today was my first official day as an amputee. I didn’t really feel any different at this stage, I had still not seen my left hand since the night of the accident and perhaps it would be weeks before I would have this pleasure, but for now I was concentrating on regaining my strength and getting back home.
14th April 2020- I was scheduled for surgery at the end of the week, despite my unwavering belief for the last 24 hours and the visualization I had painted in my mind, it had all been in vain. The attempt to re-attach my hand and fingers had not been successful. Again I surprised myself that I wasn’t more emotional, I was still completely bandaged unable to see the damage and heavily under the influence of painkillers, my brain still hadn’t fully processed the accident and honestly my body hadn’t experienced any proper pain yet. The accident had been so fast, in the blink of an eye my left hand was gone, there was no pain. The adrenaline had taken over and my body had gone into shock, by the time I began to feel the first wave of something unpleasant, I recall beckoning my fiancee to my side on the kitchen floor and in an almost childlike tone I quietly whispered ‘baby, pain coming’. The paramedics were with me by this point and I can still recall a warm rush spread over my whole body and the pain was gone. This warm relieving feeling would become a familiar friend over the coming days and perhaps it was not only easing the pain, it was also keeping reality firmly under lock and key.
It was now almost 48 hrs since the accident and following the chat with the surgeon I had mentally taken the decision not to let this beat me and define me for the rest of my life. Well as they say , actions speak louder than words, so whilst I did take some comfort that I was trying to be positive, I had to bolster this with some positive actions. I was fairly limited laid in my hospital bed covered in tubes and wires but my mind was fully functional and in my right hand I held my smartphone and access to one of the most powerful creations during my lifetime, the internet.
Ironically weeks before these events, one evening I was sat with my fiancee and turned to her and said that I wanted to get rid of my phone, by own admission I was addicted to it. It was never far from my side and when it wasn’t my mind would go into autopilot and revert to ‘police search’ mode and I would begin patting down my body up and down searching for it. If it wasn’t on my person, perhaps in a similar mode to that which a parent experiences when they realise their child is missing, my heart would begin pumping and the frantic search would begin. More times than I could count I would go through this only to discover the phone actually was already in my hand. So not only I had finally been able to admit I was addicted to something so powerful, it was incredibly sad to admit how little I used the phones capability. I spent hours upon hours reading the news, absorbing the negativity like a sponge, scrolling through page after page, but honestly the second I put the phone down Id barely be able to recall anything Id just read. I wasn’t educating myself or expanding my mind, I was committing the mortal sin of just killing time, one of most valuable commodities to every single person alive. When I wasn’t reading the news I was playing games, or checking my bank balance (it hadn’t changed since the last time I checked it), or checking the weather or checking my email and that was really about it. I had long given up on social media, around the time I began to excommunicate my friends, I similarly began to remove myself from every social media platform. Constantly seeing post after post of friends celebrating and enjoying themselves didn’t fill me with joy it just magnified how inadequate my own social life was and made me feel worse about myself. Funnily I barely used the phone to actually make phone calls, its primary function, it gave me access to the world and yet I found it had the reverse effect and made me anti-social.
So now in my hospital bed, I reassessed this phone sat in my hands and what it was truly capable of and decided it was time for a positive change. Firstly I began scrolling through my contacts and against the grain rather than typing out a text, I began calling my family. It was reassuring for them to hear my voice and know I was safe and well and I found it uplifting and refreshing to speak with them, oh the wonders of the modern telephone! Once I had completed my calls, I still felt something was missing, my family had all been sympathetic but they couldn’t truly know what I was going through, heck I still didn’t appreciate what I was going there. I thought back to the conversation with the surgeon, more specifically the subsequent chat with the nurse afterwards, in her own admirable way to pick me up, she told me of a previous patient who had been admitted to the hospital the year before, after a freak accident his thumb had been ripped off in his workshop. The surgeons also tried to save the digit but the damage was too great and so in an effort to restore his grip, they offered him the option to remove his big toe and implant it on his hand, he agreed and thankfully it was successful giving him back his ability to work. All I had was his name, obviously they weren’t going to give me his contact details, so I turned to the internet and began searching. I thought it would just be simple to look up his business address but the current pandemic meant it was closed down, I tried the business number on the off chance and was met with a rather grumpy lady who politely but firmly assured me that the business was no longer on that number, I took it from her tone that it was not the first time she had taken a call of that nature, so I quickly apologised and ended the call. I continued my search and ventured past page 1 of the google search results, in these strange and unchartered territories I found numerous email addresses which often just bounced back to me. I was beginning to get a little frustrated but a quick glance around my room and the occasional wave of pain reminded that I had little else to do so I preserved. After a couple of days I was still nowhere nearer making contact, I filled the time in between contacting more glamorous celebrities who had suffered life changing injuries (Katie Piper, Michael Caines), whose stories helped inspire my recovery but I was more realistic that I was unlikely to get a personal response but I tried all the same, I had nothing to lose. The rest of the time I sat watching endless Tony Robbins videos on YouTube, he had become my newly unofficial adopted father, I was done with the news and playing games, I was filling the void with words of motivation and self-improvement.
And then on my fourth day in hospital as I was eating lunch my phone began to ring, initially I ignored it. Usually once I had begun to eat lunch I didn’t move around quickly too much for fear of ripping out a wire or tube. The phone rang again, and again and then on the fourth time I reached out and grabbed it, it was the gentleman I had been searching for, I couldn’t believe it. We began chatting and I explained why I was so desperate to talk to him, he listened intently and responded in a sincere sympathetic voice. We exchanged stories and his words resonated powerfully with me, he was familiar with the pain and the loss and reassured me that I could pull through it. This is what I needed to hear, he was equally pleased to hear from me and although he had almost now fully recovered, he felt good in being able to help me when I needed it the most. We agreed to keep in touch and he said I could call him anytime for more advice, he wished me well for my upcoming surgery and said he would prayer for me.
As the days, hours and minutes passed I tried to constantly fill my time, not allowing my mind to wander too far. I researched different prosthetics companies, an area I had never had any need to look at before but I was utterly blown away by the technology that existed. It left me feeling more hopeful for the future that I may be able to replace the missing digits with something that would be pleasing to the eye and functional enough to give me some grip and mobility. I clung onto every moment trying to remain positive but can’t deny that negative thoughts were never too far away. I turned to the internet again looking for stories of hope and found myself on the ‘help for heroes’ website. I read stories about injuries that paled my own into insignificance and the recoveries were even more incredible. Please be assured I was not trying to draw any similarities between these stories and my own, that would be truly disrespectful to the brave soldiers injured defending their country, there was absolutely no comparison whatsoever but I found comfort in reading about their strength and courage and hoped it would help me stay strong mentally whilst I recovered.
During my numerous moments of reflection as I stared out of the window in my hospital room, I looked back on the last ten years of my life constantly pursuing riches whereas in reality I was already rich. I had my fiancee, my loving family, my two dogs, a home to go home to and my employer was fully supporting me during this time in my life. Given the uncertainty in the outside world, regardless of my fingers, I was still in good health and would be lucky enough to eventually be going home. I still had ambitions, I still wanted financial freedom, freedom to make my own choices but everyday I was beginning to become more thankful for what I had, not what I didnt. I was humbled without any doubt, I had spent so much of my life worrying about what might happen, now I was trying to live and enjoy each and everyday.