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breakthrough Health Uncategorized

#8 Time for a little taste of reality

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

  1. Wake up, smile and be thankful.
  2. Spend 10-15 minutes clearing my mind and repeating positive affirmations
  3. Throughout the day, no criticism, no complaining, condemn nothing. As grandma used to say, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing!
  4. In every given situation, I try and put myself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
  5. Whoever is speaking to me, I simply listen and show a genuine interest in them.
  6. 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?

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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.