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#17- The Pain of Regret- You don’t have to suffer!

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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!!

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/305492/fired-to-hired-by-tory-johnson/9781101133293/excerpt

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breakthrough Health Uncategorized

#15- ‘Am I in pain?’ -A day without medication!

Always start the day with a hearty healthy breakfast!

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.

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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!

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breakthrough Uncategorized

#13- From breakthrough to breakdown

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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.

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breakthrough Health

#11- A mood deeper than the mariana trench

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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.

I’ll be honest, Ive looked better!

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!

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Health Uncategorized

#6- The signposts of life and why you should never ignore them!

Just a small selection from my library, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!

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.

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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.