I consider myself a positive person. I try my hardest to always find that bloody silver lining in even the most foreboding dark cloud. My life has shown me that no matter how bad you consider your life to be going, there is someone who is going through something much, much worse.
In 2000, I had an accident.
It was a serious accident which left me stuck in a hospital bed unable to move for 3 months.
Basically, I fell on a trampoline (not a garden one, a proper Olympic-sized one) and even though there was a trampolining centre in their area, the ambulance crews had never attempted to get someone off a trampoline, they’d done no training whatsoever.
In case you’re wondering why this was a problem. It was a huge trampoline and I was in a heap in the middle of it. I had severely damaged my leg and every movement was agony. In order to get me off it, they had to carefully balance out the weight, so that I didn’t roll around every time someone got on to it. This took a significant amount of organisation and complications meant that I needed two ambulance crews to get me off the trampoline.
It took over an hour to get me from the trampoline to the hospital, in this hour I managed to use up the gas & air reserves of two ambulances and I was still in such pain. As the second ambulance crew left for their next job, I remember one of the crew members say,
“We’re going to have to go to the next job without any gas and air.”
I remember chuckling a little thinking,
Was that me? Did I use it all up? I hope they’ve got some more
Gas & air is amazing!
Why’s that green giraffe staring at me?
(I was high as a kite after all)
About a month later, after multiple operations, sessions in the ICU and dying (briefly), I was on an orthopaedic ward with 10 other women, who had all had terrible accidents.
One afternoon, a few of us were swapping our ‘how I ended up here’ stories.
When it was my turn, I hammed it up a little, going into the ‘nightmare’ of how long it took to get me off the trampoline, the pain when they accidentally caught my bum cheek in between the two halves of the stretcher, the pain of them putting the knee back in its socket, despite the gas & air etc. etc.
I really did believe I’d had the worst experience of everyone.
Until the lovely police officer opposite me started telling her story.
It was interesting, because we had previously worked out that we had had our accidents within an hour of each other on the same day, and we’d suffered almost the same kind of injury, both of us were lying in our beds with massive External Fixators holding our legs together.
Unlike me, her accident happened in the line of duty.
She was chasing a suspect, she jumped over a wall, landed badly and even though she’d pretty much crushed her leg bones in the fall, she still managed to catch the suspect. She was very matter of fact about it and the self-absorbed me thought,
“good story, impressive even, but nowhere near as bad as mine!”
That was until she said.
“And do you know what the worst thing was? The ambulance crew were held up and took ages to arrive, when they finally got there, they had no gas & air”
Just imagining the pain she must have gone through without the gas & air made my whole body hurt in sympathy. I thanked my lucky stars, quite selfishly, that I had had my accident first.
I would love to say that that moment changed me forever,
I quickly forgot the lesson that no matter how bad you think things are, they could be much worse.
Then a month or so later, I heard these words:
“It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever walk again”
As the doctor swished open the curtains and disappeared, I remember feeling probably the worst I have ever felt in my life. Contemplating a life in a wheelchair, unable to properly get my head around it, the only thing I could think of was, my life is over! What’s the point if I can’t walk. I looked down at the massive metal structure on my leg and cried buckets.
I remember wallowing in the ‘woe is me’ self-pity for days. Moaning to all my visitors that my life was over. Ignoring their attempts to cheer me up, by pointing out that I was still alive, which considering that I very nearly didn’t make it, should have been enough to snap me out of my funk.
But all this was to no avail. I was determined to sink into a deep pit of despair. I gave up on life, I gave up on everything. I couldn’t even be bothered to do the extra exercises that the physios had given me, with the hope of getting me back on my feet,
because what was the point?
After a few days of my depressed moaning and whinging, the woman in the bed next door, suddenly turned to me and spoke.
That was astonishing in itself, as she’d not uttered a single word before that.
“Cheer up love, things could be worse.”
“Like what?” I said grumpily? Not imagining for a second that there could possibly be such a thing.
All she did in response was lift up her blanket.
Underneath I saw stumps where her legs should have been.
Then she said, “Your leg might not work, but at least you’ve still got it!”
Then she laughed, a massive gleeful laugh and I felt like the most ungrateful person in the world.
That was the moment that changed the way I saw my life.
Whenever I start to feel even the tiniest bit down, I remember her lifting the blankets and I say to myself:
“Cheer up love, things could be worse.”
And then I laugh…
P.S. – Two things
- No, I never did own up to being the selfish person who’d used up all the gas & air
- Since my accident, ambulance crews all receive training in how to extract an injured person from a trampoline.