18th May 2020- By 4am this morning I still hadn’t fallen asleep, the sky outside was already beginning to lighten, the dawn chorus was getting louder but all I wanted was some pain relief and sleep. I crept downstairs trying not to awaken the household only to be met at the bottom stair by Charlie the 8 month old puppy, who instinctively gave a couple of loud barks and then upon realising it was me, became over-excited, mission failed! I retired back to bed with a handful of painkillers to resume my attempt to at least get some sleep despite how futile I knew my efforts would be.
As I laid in bed a feeling of despair washed over me, why now my brain decided it was a good idea do this baffled me but it was happening, so as always I hopped on for the ride. Prior to my accident on 12th April, Id had so many ”plans”, I say plans in the loosest sense of the word because as was the norm more often than not they amounted to nothing more than an idea in my head, and that’s as far as they got. Maybe they were lucky enough to advance to the dizzying heights of making it to a list on a piece of paper but honestly in terms of me progressing, this was the mental version of valhalla. I sat up in bed waiting for the painkillers to work their magic and then my mind began to reel off all the things that I now thought impossible with only one good hand, the pain of regret was building.
I grabbed my latest book I was reading off the floor and opened it up, perhaps I could find some answers here, my mind certainly wasn’t offering anything useful up. “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, I was about half way through the book, some of the stories were really good, some just washed over me but Id not yet come across one that had struck a chord with my own personal situation, and then it happened. In my blog post #15 I talked about my redundancy 10 years ago and the profound affect it had had on me, I was always frustrated with myself for continually referring back to it and part of me just thought I was using it as an excuse for my failings. However here now I was reading a story by Tory Johnson who had had a very similar experience, my jaw was hanging down as I finished the story. In short at 22 years old she was a high flyer enjoying the rewards of a blossoming career which then came crashing down as she was fired by her new boss, within 30 minutes she was out of her office, no goodbyes and no time to pack up her things. She had begged to keep her job but too no avail, she took it badly initially but in time grew from the experience and made the bold choice that she didn’t want to go back to job where she wasn’t in control of her future. The similarities with my own redundancy were spookily close and I too had been desperately seeking a career for a long time without being dependant on a monthly paycheck.
My despair was still lingering but after reading the story for a second time, I felt a little relief knowing that someone else had gone through a similar experience and suffered the same mental trauma. Primarily I still just wanted to get some sleep but my mind was now alive, I had to snap myself out of this mental torture and stop punishing myself with regrets from the past. As I had seen I few a days ago
“We must all suffer from one of two pains, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret, the difference is discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons”- Jim Rohn
On the highway of life I needed to find my exit now and begin my journey to my new destination, but perhaps a few hours sleep first!!
19th May 2020 – Another trip to the hospital, it was starting to feel like a second home, once what was a strange new place now had an air of familiarity about it. I strolled around the corridors knowing exactly where I was going and the staff in the clinic all knew me before I even needed to give my name. Today was a more dignified visit, the wounds were starting to close and it was considerably less painful when the bandages were removed, I could bare the nurse swabbing my hand without the usual cry from me, “get me the gas!!”
As I laid on the bed the nurse smiled at me and asked me if I had looked at it, which too be honest I still hadn’t, of course Id seen my hand wrapped in the bandages but actually in the flesh, no! Then she drops the bombshell on me, next week the bandages are coming off completely, so she strongly advised me to take a proper look. I hadn’t prepared for this, I known the day would come eventually but I felt I needed time to prepare. So gingerly I took a look, took a photo and laid back down, hmmmm, it wasn’t as bad as I thought but still to the people that knew me, family and friends alike my hand would be quite shocking. And this is the bit that worried me, I knew in time I would become familiar with my new look but showing it in public was a big hill to climb for me, the more I thought about it, the worse the anxiety became. To the untrained eye, my hand would be strange and attract the judging glances of strangers, I just wasn’t prepared for this yet. Physically I was healing but mentally I still had a mountain to climb.
The journey home was a couple of hours and I was quiet most of the way, my fiancee kept trying to strike up a conversation but she was drowned out by my inner monologue. She decided she wanted to stop at a local town on the way, as we arrived and pulled up outside of a shop, I had to make a quick decision. Under normal circumstances I would of jumped out of the car, ran in and done what I needed to do but today I was wracked with paranoia. I guess this was my first personal challenge, I got out of the car and took a deep breath and walked towards the store. Minutes later we were back, Id noticed the clerk take a glance down at my hand but that was it. I didn’t feel judged, as always I was overthinking the situation!
We decided to visit the supermarket before we left, this time I decided to stay in the car, Id had my excitement for the day and that’s when it happened. As I glanced around the carpark something caught my eye, it was strange, odd looking, I locked onto it and processed what I was seeing. There right in the middle of the car park was a fairly well built guy, shaved head and glasses, that’s not strange your thinking!, but this fella was wearing a rather fetching summer dress and ladies heels! For a few seconds I couldn’t look away and then my brain caught up and I smiled, what the hell was I doing. Twenty minutes earlier was I not worrying about being judged or stared at and here I was doing the exact same thing, what a hypocrite!!!!!!
I leaned back in the seat and smiled to myself, fair play to that guy I thought, he truly did not give one f*ck, that was his thing, he was comfortable with it and he didn’t care what anyone else thought. This was a good lesson for me, that was how I needed to be, just accept my hand as it was and not worry about anyone else’s opinion.
10th May 2020- I was starting to feel sick from all the tablets I was taking, I felt like my body was getting used to the painkillers and they were losing their effectiveness. So as I awoke this morning before I even reached for my boxes of medication, I paused for a moment and thought
‘Am I in pain?’
I was but it wasn’t crippling, my left hand throbbed but I could live with it, my thigh was burning from being the donor site for the skin grafts but again it wasn’t so excruciating that I couldn’t move around. I took several deep breath‘s and tried to focus my mind, if I could just manage the pain signals as they fired back to my brain perhaps today I could go without any medication.
By 2 pm I was going strong, small waves of pain rippled occasionally through my body, electric pulses shot up and down my left arm and tingled where my fingers have been removed. I was hopeful that my body was starting to accept my new form and was moving towards a state of equilibrium. Mentally I was finding it tough, my positive state of mind was a little like a small child when they first learn to walk or ride a bike, I was having to prop it up and make constant small course changes to keep it in the right direction.
Constantly I kept mentally referring back to the videos of Tony Robbins I’d watched, the self-help books I had read, I was perpetually trying to focus on a positive outcome. I knew this suffering wouldn’t last forever, the pain would eventually subside, my body would heal, sure my hand would never grow back but I’d already researched the prosthetic replacements. As always I was impatient, I wanted everything to be okay now but had to face the reality that this was going to be a long journey.
By 5 pm I was exhausted, the pain was echoing through my body and without the medication it was taking all my energy to stay strong. There were aches, pains and sores that I was starting to notice, I hadn’t noticed them before probably because I’d been so numb. I continued to resist the option of painkillers even though they were only 6 feet away from me. This became my little mental battle today, I would prove to myself I was strong enough mentally to withstand my suffering.
I was laid on the sofa watching documentaries of people who had really suffered in life, and I mean really suffered but their stories ended with success. Their stories stirred up an anger in me, I was angry but confused, that’s why my story was so strange to me. Looking back on my 40 years, I hadn’t had a hard life, other than my parents splitting up at an early age I’d had a pleasant childhood, my step-dad came on the scene very early on and filled the position like a true champion. In my eyes he was my dad and I loved him dearly. I wasn’t abused, beaten or starved, I was loved and cared for. My home was a safe place, I had friends and plenty of good memories, so where had it all gone wrong?
I always refer back to the point in my life when I was made redundant, I don’t know why I always look back at this point. It’s something that happens to tens of thousands of people each year, it’s just that at that time I can specifically remember the mental torture I felt. The abandonment, I had lost my safety net, I had realised when you work for someone you’re in part placing your destiny or future in their hands, they dictate a large part of your life and then when it is suddenly whipped out from under your feet if you’re not prepared for it, it becomes a serious trauma.
There are many things I wanted in life but the thing I wanted most was security and for me security meant money. The accident had made me realise that money couldn’t solve everything but it could put a roof over my head, put clothes on my back, food on my table and I could take care and provide for my family, and so in reflection since the redundancy, for the last 10 years I’d been looking for a way to provide an income aside from the monthly pay cheque. Something that I was in control of, something I was the boss of, the problem was I was far better at spending money than I was earning it! I had drawn up a new life plan in hospital but once I was healed and strong enough I knew I had to find a way to give myself peace and become self-reliant.
7 pm, out came the painkillers! I cracked, my fiancee had to change the dressing on my leg, laying there half naked, bleeding and in pain whilst she attempted to clean and re-dress me, I was learning better what love meant! Now I was engaged I thought about the marriage vow ‘in sickness and in health’, I finally understood the true meaning of it and thought to myself, I’ve definitely found my soulmate!
9th May 2020- What follows is just a mind dump! It was two days after my third and hopefully final surgery for a long time, I was laid on the sofa and hurting all over and truly feeling sorry for myself. I was scanning my previous blogs and trying to be positive and in part I was but the pain was fighting me and taking my energy, I just felt like a shadow of my former self. I fired up YouTube and audio injected an hour of the husky voiced Tony Robbins into my brain, I needed a little pick me up mentally. As the video ended I grabbed my note book and just began to scribble:-
I have the power to change, its already within in, I don’t need to acquire anything new, I just need to release the tiger in me!
I know theres something special in me
Ive tried for 40 years to change, searching for something, this is now the start of my new journey
Im not afraid to be me anymore, this is who I am
My life has new meaning, I’m not afraid to make mistakes anymore, I accept im not perfect, I will never achieve perfection but I will try to be the best I can and influence everyone around me in a positive way!
I may have lost three fingers! but I’ve gain a whole new perspective on life!
Life is going to be harder because Im not running away from my problems anymore but it will be more rewarding, as I conquer each problem I will get stronger with each victory!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 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.
4th May 2020- Despite everything I was trying each day, my new daily routine, the meditation, the affirmations, my little chats with the guy upstairs, the waves of energy sapping pain that rippled through my body each day, today I just ran out of steam. It wasn’t a particularly eventful day, I was back at Hospital for another check up and dressing change but for the first time I was able to see my right leg. The surgeons had been using my thigh to take skin grafts and various other things, as I was laid in the cubicle, the nurse peeled away the last of the bandages and left me alone for a couple of minutes. In a child like fashion, I slowly tilted my head up until I could see my leg in all its glory, my stomach dropped, considering it was my hand that I had injured my leg looked like something you’d see from the prop department of a Tarantino movie. I laid back down and my mood just sunk, I felt beat up, ugly, what the hell had I done to myself? The nurse came back in with the surgeon and they began to examine my leg, they were over the moon! They assured me (rather convincingly), it looked a lot worse than it actually was but it was clean and healing, I just needed to give it time.
Today they finally released me from the vacuum pump and patched my hand back up again and sent me through to the physiotherapist before I could escape. Chatting with her was useful, she made realise this was going to be a long journey and I would have to accept my life would be different but with hard work, commitment,determination and some adaption I could still function in life.
As we drove home from the hospital, I was quiet. Mentally today was my toughest day yet, I was fighting with some very powerful demons, I knew I had the support of my fiancee and my family but it was beginning to dawn on me that I would need professional help. If I just sat at home while I recovered and did nothing, physically I would heal but mentally I could see my mood would deteriorate rapidly. Just before Id left the hospital, as I walked the long corridor back to the carpark, my left hand now more visible, I caught people around me looking at my hand. I felt so exposed and vulnerable, obviously in a hospital I didn’t look completely out of place but I did feel judged and perhaps this was just a taste of things to come when I finally resurfaced in the real world.
I felt a little better when I got home, shut behind my four walls was my safe haven, away from prying eyes and I could relax, I still felt very fragile mentally but again I thought to myself that I definitely needed to seek out some professional advice. The pandemic meant there was no chance of a face to face but after a couple of emails Id managed to get a telephone consultation set up and this gave me a little boost. There was help available but it wasn’t going to kick my door down, I needed to go and find it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.