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#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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#4 – My first day as an Amputee

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.

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