Christmas past and Christmas present
This has been my 9th Christmas since breaking my neck. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to still be here and I do not know how many years I have left to enjoy. That’s why it is so important for me to look back to that first Christmas in 2007 and appreciate all that life has blessed me with since.
This Christmas was more than I could wish for but 9 years ago was a very different story.
I had been in hospital for 7 months and my rehabilitation was going well however, I was still a long way from being in a stable condition.
Surprisingly, my consultants were going to let me spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with my family and friends. My parents house was turned into a mini hospital and one of them had to be with me at all times, day and night. I did not realise the responsibility they were accepting as I was still weak and my health was unpredictable .
Mentally and physically, I was a shadow of myself. I had gone from having an athletic, muscular physique to skin and bone. I spent so long ‘nil by mouth’ then lying in bed watching any muscle tone deteriorate that I was almost unrecognisable from the healthy young man going on holiday only a few months previously.
My lungs were still very weak, trying to adapt to the ventilator and needing constant suction to stop my oxygen levels dropping too low.
What I remember most is the pain. I was in an incredible amount of pain. It felt like hundreds of red hot screws were being drilled into the back of my head and no amount of morphine would provide relief. I would spend all night crying and screaming at the torture of my head being in contact with a pillow. There were times I would have given up and chose death over the thought of a life like that.
Mentally, I was also in lots of pain. People would comment on how great my attitude was and how well I was dealing with everything. If only they could have seen beyond the mask. I do remember being scared that my life had nothing positive left to offer. Looking back it’s clear that I was in a bad place, balancing denial and depression all dressed up with a smiley face.
That’s why this Christmas was so fantastic. I have my health and the pain is manageable. I am happy, inside and out. I still struggle at times but I have my amazing family and friends to lean on.
9 years ago I wouldn’t have believed life could be so good but the healing power of time has been very kind to me. I still face challenges every day of life but I tackle them with my past as my strongest weapon.
So I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. If you are in a bad place then I hope time will guide you to brighter days.