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Health Uncategorized

#1- My breakthrough, the day things changed forever!

12th April 2020- As I laid on the stretcher, morphine coursing through my veins waiting to be wheeled into the operating theatre, I stared up at the hospital ceiling tiles paying no attention to the bleeping and hustle and bustle going on around me. Perhaps it was the morphine but my mind was incredibly calm, I had still not yet processed the full ramifications of my accident 6 hours prior, but there was a part of my mind that I think that had realised there was no going back, and so I had accepted in small part this was happening and I was helpless to influence my immediate situation.

I’m not wealthy financially by any means but in the past whenever or wherever I could I would choose to throw money at any problem in the hope it would solve it, but this accident brought home to me how utterly insignificant money was in a situation like this and how important your health is. At that precise moment, I thought to myself it didn’t matter if I had a one pound in my bank or if I was the richest man in the world, no amount of money could turn the clock back and undo the damage I had done to my left hand. I felt a small jolt as the stretcher began moving, I slowly lifted my head and there right next to me I saw the piece of my left hand with my thumb and two fingers still attached sat unceremoniously in a plastic container. It had only been 6 hours but the chunk of flesh and bone looked alien to me, my brain still hadn’t caught up and bizarrely I thought I could still feel all the fingers on my left hand. At this point I knew I wasn’t going to die but my life was sat firmly in the hands of the surgeons and nurses who were starting to swarm around me. This was by far the most humbling point of my life, I couldn’t run away from this, I couldn’t stick it in my top desk drawer and deal with it next week, I couldn’t talk my way out of it, this was happening now. The stretcher stopped moving and my heart rate began to rise, this was it, no going back now, from the side the anaesthetist appeared and they calmly spoke to me explaining what was happening, I slowly began counting down thinking nothing was happening and then within a matter of seconds I was gone.

Seven hours later, as fast as the anaesthetic had worked, I opened my eyes and felt like only a few seconds had passed. My first instinct was my left hand, I was laid down flat, so my brain tried to connect but there was no feeling. I strained to lift my head and I was just able to see my arm and then my heavily bandaged hand, I could just about see my little finger and the finger next to that but nothing else. Had the operation been a success? A nurse appeared and greeted me with a big smile, I was still a little groggy but had enough energy to question her if the operation had been successful. She said they had been able to reattach my fingers but they wouldn’t know if it was successful until tomorrow. Quite remarkably for me I was still incredibly calm, maybe this was just a dream and I would wake up any second , but there was no panic in my mind, no anxiety, it was just a surreal series of events. As I began to regain complete consciousness, I was moved to a ward to begin my recuperation, different faces appeared left and right and I made every effort to be as pleasant and welcoming as they were to me. I was naked other than my hospital gown, tubes and wires all over my body, my right arm had begun to bruise from all cannulas that had been inserted and this now was the most vulnerable I had ever felt since the day I had been born.

Taken on the day of the accident a few hours earlier
Taken on the day of the accident a few hours earlier

At 41 years old, prior to the accident I had spent most of my adult life chasing a dream or specifically money. I thought money would bring me happiness, contentment and fulfillment but in reality I was miserable. For the last 10 years I had been suffering ever increasing feelings of depression,anxiety and despair. I didn’t feel like my life had any direction, in fact I just felt like I had been going round in a circle and life was passing me by faster and faster. I was full of anger and resentment and had been systematically withdrawing from life, ghosting one friend after another, angry that none of them recognised how I was feeling. I always felt I was quite empathic and would reach out to those close to me if I felt they needed help, but when it was my turn I felt like I was on my own. I acknowledge I was part of the problem, people aren’t mind readers but the alpha male in me and my pride stopped me asking for help.

That be said I did seek help, a combination of professional assistance and self-medication but this was far away from the people who knew me and helped my ego to retain its pride and on the surface I was able retain some composure. For 10 years I guess you could say I lead two lives, I had mastered the art of projecting an image of a confident and happy person but in reality just under the skin I was deteriorating, gaining momentum year on year. From the age of 30, I tried acupuncture, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation,religion,life coaching, various forms of pharmaceutical medication and probably the least successful, alcohol. Some worked better than others, I went through a number of therapists and enjoyed small degrees of success which helped from a few days to a couple of weeks but nothing stuck. I think I had a stubborn element to my personality that actually refused to accept there was anything wrong with me at all, I was hell bent on pursuing the dream of being rich and thought this was the answer to all my problems.

I sat up in my hospital bed and began to stare intently at my left hand, I couldn’t see what was going on underneath the bandages but mentally I thought I could feel all my fingers, a small wave of hope washed over me. Despite the last ten years, there had been quite a few occasions where I had been lucky, times where I had almost worried myself to death or took a chance and it had paid off and there had been no need to worry in the first place. A few weeks prior to the accident I had read ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, I thought back to the book and hoped this my time for another piece of luck. In my capacitated state my mind was the only thing really working well for me, so I dug deep and imagined a healed hand, I thought of the feeling I would get as I left hospital in the future relieved that I had ridden my luck one more time. I imagined four fingers and a thumb, covered in scars but nonetheless a hand intact, for 24 hours this was all I thought about. I played out the conversation with the surgeon in my head over and over, everything was going to be ok. As I went to sleep that night, I was feeling hopeful, come the morning I just needed the dream to align with the reality and all this would be behind me and life could return to normal.

Categories
Health Uncategorized

#2- Yes I am sitting down Doctor…

13th April 2020- It was a sunny day and Ill be honest I woke up full of optimism, my last thought before I fell asleep the night before was the vision of a healed left hand and that was exactly the first thing that I thought about that morning. I was in strange surroundings and it did feel like a little adventure, perhaps the concoction of drugs they were pumping through me had softened the edges of reality but the overall gravity of my situation had still not fully registered. I sat up in bed and tried to gather my thoughts and quickly the compass in my mind swung rapidly around and pointed towards my girlfriend. ‘Holy shit’ I thought, she must be worried out of her mind, the last time I saw her was last night while I was laid on my kitchen floor covered in blood and surrounded by paramedics. I vaguely remember calling for her to come to my side and telling her I was sorry but after that for the next six hours, the movie of my life was limited to whatever was straight above me as I laid flat on the stretcher, my only dialogue was the continuous need for me to repeat my name and date of birth.

I glanced around my hospital room and saw my bag out of the corner of my eye, I vaguely remember my girlfriend telling me she had packed a few things for me as the ambulance doors closed the previous night, I smiled, even in the most dire and horrific situation she still was able to maintain a degree of composure. I was so lucky to have her in my life, I could only imagine the scene I left her in, I remember there was a lot of blood but she never panicked. Strangely enough neither did I, the accident happened so fast, literally in the blink of an eye, one second I was cutting wood, something I had done hundreds of times before and then as I turned to reach for another piece I glanced down and I was greeted by an image that since that day I have tried to repeatedly to block from memory. Somehow the power saw had gone straight through my left hand from the wrist up and had removed my thumb, index finger and middle finger, I was left with my little finger and ring finger and a bloody stump. Without any thought I grabbed my wrist to stem the bleeding and walked from the garage through to the kitchen, I called for my girlfriend and in casual tone asked her to call an ambulance. I grabbed a towel from the side, wrapped it around what was left of my hand and laid down on the floor and waited for help to arrive.

A nurse came into my room and she kindly passed me my phone, without delay I called my girlfriend and as we spoke, I think we both felt a sense of overwhelming emotion and relief. She was happy to hear I was alive and kicking and I was bubbling over with apologises, I was so sorry for putting her through this situation. She had been amazing, I don’t ever want to dwell on what could of been, if I been on my own, passed out and bled to death I wouldn’t be here to tell this story. I consider myself very lucky, in fact many events that evening, notwithstanding my accident, were very fortunate to me. My girlfriend found me within seconds and called for help, the rapid response paramedics arrived within minutes, not long after, the ambulance arrived and I was on my way to hospital. Globally we were in the midst of a complete social shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this in itself was a terrible and unprecedented event but it meant there was little traffic on the roads so the first leg of the trip to the local hospital was quick. The doctors quickly assessed me and agreed I would be transferred to Royal Derby Hospital, which I would later find out was the best hospital in the country when it came to hand traumas. Again the roads were quiet and my journey was unimpeded, once I arrived I was prepared for surgery and my life was placed in the hands of the NHS’s finest.

As I spoke with my girlfriend something felt different, she had been there for me when I needed her the most, in fact she was always there for me. She had had her own fair share of personal problems in the past but never moaned or complained, she just took whatever life threw at her with a smile and got on with it, her inner strength was admirable. Normally I procrastinate every decision, but today I felt different, the previous evenings events had given me a whole new perspective on life, I had now witnessed how fragile we are and how quickly life can change. I had this amazing person in my life, who loved me and cared for me, we had casually discussed marriage in the past but Id never took the plunge, and so as we chatted I stopped and interrupted the conversation. In possibly the least romantic scenario possible, to her complete surprise, I asked her if she would marry me! In as little time it took me to ask, she said yes! She had wanted this for so long, I meant the world to her and likewise she meant the world to me. I said it was a shame that it had almost cost me three fingers but in her true pure grit attitude, she was happy and looked at the positive outcome.

Don’t let the smile deceive you! A comfy bed and pain meds kept me smiling

So in a matter of less than 24 hours, my boring depressed life had flipped on its head and gained more momentum than Id ever experienced in 40 years. I was sat blooded and bruised in a strange hospital bed, half my left hand hanging on with stitches but I was now engaged to be married to a woman who I owed my life too. Prior to the accident I had wished for a breakthrough and some excitement, well ladies and gentlemen, be careful for what you wish for as you just might get it.

I said my goodbyes to my now fiancee and sat patiently waiting for the doctors verdict, I was still clinging onto the hope that the surgery to reattach my fingers had been successful and kept visualising my hand intact. Finally the nurse arrived and I was taken down to the hand clinic, all the while I was in a strangely optimistic mood, for someone who had been close friends with depression and anxiety for more than 10 years and not 24 hours ago sliced half his hand off, I didn’t feel particularly worried. Could I stretch my luck just one more time and pull the last ace out of the deck?

I was wheeled into a cubicle and moments later joined by the surgeon and a couple of members of staff, I looked at each one intently in their eyes trying to read their faces, I always thought I was particularly good at this but today it was something that could change the direction of my life forever. The room went silent and we all took a deep breath, I glanced up at the surgeon and we locked eyes, his shoulders dropped and he smiled, ‘Im very sorry, it didn’t work, we did everything we could’

We spoke for a few more minutes and then I was taken back to my room, I sat quietly alone looking out of the window, there was no emotion in me. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t hammering my fist on the bed, it still didn’t seem real, was this really happening to me? Maybe I would wake up in a few minutes and realise this was just bad dream, perhaps I had wished this on myself but not specifically this injury. I mentioned in my previous blog that I had read ‘The Secret’- by Rhonda Byrne weeks before the accident, it talked about the law of attraction and if you truly want something so bad and focus hard on it, there’s a good chance the universe will grant your wish. Well for the past 10 years I had been pursuing the dream of being rich which had brought me nothing more than misery and depression, I had been searching in my life for an answer, something that would change the course of my life. Id spent hundreds of hours on YouTube listening to success stories, life coaches, business men and women and entrepreneurs desperately trying to find something that would resonate with me, but nothing seemed to really hit the mark. There was however one video that I recall or more specifically one part that left its mark with me, an entrepreneur talked about risk and how some of us are more wired to accept it and the success it can bring. Some people choose the option of ‘the point of no return’, they accept the inherent risks but push themselves to the point where there’s no going back, they commit and see it through. My bin in my office was a metaphorical graveyard for thousands of ideas that never made it off the page, I was all too familiar with the initial rush of excitement but likewise very familiar with the scrunch of the paper as another idea died and laid to rest in the bin. Well now as I sat on my hospital bed, faced with the now real scenario that I was about to lose three fingers and half my hand, this was now my point of no return. I couldn’t wriggle my way out of this, this was happening like it or not. With a big sigh, I took a deep breath and looked out at the bright blue sky and thought to myself, there were only two doors available to me, door number one, this beats me and I accept failure, or door number two, I grab life with the what hands I have left and turn this into a success story. I certainly wasn’t about to give up but I knew the road ahead of me was going to be tough.