Americanna/Ameripolitan

Don’t Let Me Die In Phoenix Article 3: His Legs Were Weak And His Back Was Bent

In the next few articles, John Davis connects his experience of being in hospital to the current Corona virus crisis and explores issues such as loss, survival, friendship and hallucinations.  Today’s article specifically asks you to consider whether concepts such as charterer, bravery and strength are helpful in relation to the way men approach their health issues. 

I drafted this article late last year when I was trying to process what had happened to me.  A key problem with getting ill in another country is that you are separated from your work place, friends and loved ones.  The current crisis means that many people are now in that situation, be they self isolating, unable (because of travel restrictions) to travel home or because they are in care homes, hospitals or hospices. 

Something about the process of isolation made me think very deeply about what the words love and hope mean.   I came round after the third operation and the surgeons were looking at me in a very serious way.  I realised quite quickly that this was a good thing, they were about to tell me something important.

The wound was left open between the three debridement operations.  I had an unconnected flap of skin where my buttocks should have been. I could not turn at all to see what they had done to me.  And, I did not want to see what they had done to me.  A very kind nurse offered to bring in a mirror when I, stupidly, asked, ‘how is it looking back there’.  I was not really interested in what my butt looked like.  However, I did wonder how much of it was left and how usable it would be.  So I had to rephrase my question.  The answer came back, ‘Too early to tell’.

The debridement surgeons told me they had done their best and thought they had got all the infection.  They would have another check before I had a forth and final operation to put the skin back in place.

I have always been instinctively against plastic surgery because I see it as a symbol of the gender inequality in our society.  When you’ve been through what I had been through and your ‘arse’ was still, as we say in Scotland ‘hinging oot’.  You are not going to make any political or ethical points to the plastic surgeon in case he ‘hands your arse to you’. I don’t remember meeting the plastic surgeon before the plastic surgery but he or someone from his team must have come to explained the procedure to me.  I was pretty far gone by that stage, and assumed that the plastic people wouldn’t have time for any cosmetic niceties and tried to block out thoughts of what my arse may look like after all this was over.

Luckily, the debridement surgeons gave the plastic surgeon the go ahead to close the wound and I did not need a skin graft, as there was enough skin left for the plastic surgeons to pull over and cover the areas that had been cut out.

It was only when the wound was closed by the plastic surgeons, that my wife could take a breath from her constant state of vigilance.

It is important during this Corona Virus crisis that we find ways to stop and breath when we can.  Constant vigilance, a male sense of responsibility, and over work had gotten me into this mess.  Our current crisis needs us to questions our ‘traditional male’ approaches to illness, notions that we can ‘fight’, rather than, ‘survive’ illness and the idea that men have to always be ‘strong’ when confronted with adversity.  Such ideas dehumanise our approach to distress.

The first article in this series explained how ‘brave heart’ spirit ways of thinking were used to encourage me to climb down the stairs of the apartment I was in when there was no space for the stretcher to go up the stair well.  But, the second article attempted to link my sense of Scottishness to ideas in disability studies that question notion of shame that might be associated with impairment.  I connected my idea of Scottishness with the need to draw collective strength from my loved ones and used the idea that I was representing my kin folk back home to help me avoid dropping into ‘male’ type shame about my illness.  This enabled me to move away from individual ideas that as a man I should have the individual ‘character’ to get over this, to a place where I acknowledged that if I was going to survive this I would need a lot of help.  A lot of men are unable to ask for help because of our cultural expectations. The social model of disability taught me that I would only get through this experience if I accepted everything had changed and accepted the help of those around me.

I concluded that it was important for me, and it is important in this present crisis, for us to avoid ‘blaming’ people for what they are experiencing.  We also need to understand  that this virus is not distributed fairly and hits the less well off more severely.

In article 1  I asked you to pose questions and learn lessons about why this virus impacts more on specific groups in our society.  I generally watch channel four news because I find it more critical and analytical than other news streams.  But, last night, a friend sent me a link where Emily Maitlis, the BBC presenter, debunked the myth that this virus hits us all equally and also challenged the ‘male’ idea that those who survive do so because of their own individual strength of character:

The clips in the video explain, better than I can, what I was trying to say.  We will get through this because we support each other not because one person has more character than another.  We will get through this Corona Viirus crisis  if we do not loose sight of our humanity.  The final part of Maitlis’ video pays  tribute to those who have lost their lives.  Those clips sought to remind us that we are in the midst of a human tragedy.

In my last post I paid tribute to the intensive care team who helped save me, but, will now be under the most extreme of pressures. Similarly, and though my memory is very sketchy of the early events I went through,  I have a very fond and clear memory of how kind the debridement surgeons were.  At the end of the three operations that enabled them to save my life, they came to say good buy.  I could tell from their faces they had done there best for me.  They were extremely pleased with what they had achieved.  The youngest of the debridement surgeons had the most amazing beaming smile that gave me so much hope that not only had they saved me, but he was chuffed with himself because he had learnt how to work as a team to resolve an extremely rare and difficult condition and that, should the need arise, this would enable him to save others in the future.

The lead surgeon told me that travelling with and having a nurse as a partner had saved my life.  They knew that most men do not seek medical help early enough.  Had I been travelling by myself e.g. for work, I would have probably waited another day to seek medical help and that day would never have come.  This fact, that men need to seek medical help earlier, is very important in the current crisis (see Guardian article here for discussion of men and the Corona Virus).

There is concern that the virus hits men worse and that men may end up in hospital too late because of myths about being and having to stay strong.  The virus hits us worse because, medically, our immune systems are weaker than women and, socially, our brains can be in our arse and we often sit on our health issues until it is too late.  So, lets be clear about this.  I am not that different from other guys, I took the ‘brave heart’ spirit too far with the now immortal line, ‘its just the flu I’ll fight it off’.  And, the ‘Brave Heart’ attitude almost got me killed.

As a Guardian report states: ‘the cliche of an ill man who dragged himself prematurely back to work and only made things worse is partly grounded in reality’.  I was that man that over worked and I was that man that the ‘brave heart’ spirit almost killed – don’t let your loved ones be that man and do not be that man your self.

In this crisis, key signs that things have taken a turn for the worse include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion that you weren’t experiencing before
  • An inability to get up
  • A blue tint to your lips or face

There are social and cultural reasons why men have to demonstrate the appearance that they are ‘strong’ and can ‘fight things off’ but in reality all the research evidence demonstrates that women are the stronger sex health wise and, as I found out, that men have less resilient immune systems . So keep an eye on the men around you.

Sam Doores’ song Let It Roll really captures that need for men to chill out and change their hyper vigilant ways of being :

We should remember that the reason men are unable to unwind is because historically, wars, the industrial revolution and the division of labour has created the need for workers to sacrifice their bodies for their country and work place.

We have sought to challenge such was of being in previous posts on this site (see link here), in particular in relation to the Glasgow effect which demonstrates that a combination of dis-empowerment, poor housing/amenities, lack of recreational spaces and unhealthy working practice led to tens of thousands more early deaths in Glasgow and other areas of Scotland compared to Liverpool and Manchester. To this day, it means that  people in Glasgow are 30% more likely to die from the big three (cancer, strokes and heart disease);  illnesses of ‘despair’ (e.g. suicide) and conditions linked to  drugs and alcohol that are employed to block out ‘despair’.

My own male side found it difficult to hold onto its sense of self within, what, at times, was an extremely medicalised and disempowering process.  I had to accept that, at times, I would feel defeated and there could be no shame in that.  I realised I had to articulate my sense of defeat to those around me and then we could work out how to emotionally pick me up.  Sam Doores’ song captures this need to lean on others in the lines:

My door is open for you.

So step right up.

Walk on in.

Tell me buddy.

 How you been.

Kick up your feet.

Ease your mind.

Let it roll.

I got time.

This hear’s my prayer.

Good folks everywhere.

Been walking all around.

With there heads hanging down.

Show them love.

Show Them Laughter.

Lord show us a sign.

Cause when we ain’t afraid of loving

We ain’t afraid to die ‘.

As my mind began to come back to me, I realised I had to find something for my brain to do to keep it away from bleaker thoughts.  I found myself analysing the pros and cons of the hospital care I was receiving.

My work in the health care field included contributing to a large process at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool that collected disabled children’s and parent’s views of how to improve the hospital.  So, in Arizona, I was able to draw on that knowledge to ask the Doctors, Nurses, OTs and Physios important questions about their practice and my care.  I learnt during the Alder Hey work that an appropriate amount of humour, an ethics of love/care and yet a balance of professionalism took you a long way.  And, that medics were people under extreme pressure who, generally, tried to do their best, but, were sometimes prevented from doing so because they were too tired to think.

Subsequently, I was lucky enough to work with a PhD student who studied love in early years care settings and this has forced me to pose questions about why we, and particularly men, approach the word Love as if it were a four-letter word.  Equally, I have also had the occasional experiences where male colleagues have suddenly become so loved up that they have gone round proselytising about love like they are born again TV salesmen  in a way that meant he stopped listening to those around him and became hectoring and dismissive (that type of hectoring behaviour is not love, that type of behaviour is ‘male’ bullying).  So, my conclusion is that a balance is required between a saccharin and over the top approach to the word Love and an approach that avoids denying our emotions.

One of the male nurses enshrined very well this balance between, humour, professionalism and love/care.  It was not a surprise to me when he said that he had experience of disability rights in relation to his own family members and a sense of collective responsibility through his religious faith which is based on the idea we are all connected.  When you see your self as connected to other people it is easier to be empathetic.

Yet, this nurse also explained to me, one day., that he had not always been as confident in his practice and that he had struggled at first with his role.  He explained that one of the lead female nurses on the ward had supported him to develop his empathetic approach when he had been struggling during his training.  I wasn’t surprised to hear this.  That female nurse couldn’t do enough for you, had an incredible energy that just cheered you up, was thoughtful and always listened to your views about your health care.

I could have been a nightmare patient.  I could have acted like a middle aged man, going through a terrible time, feeling a loss of power and status, who over analysed his care and picked on those around him.  I could have been a self-entitled male with just enough knowledge to be a ‘complete pain in the arse’.  I could of questioned every aspect of my care.  Thankfully, things did not map out that way. in the USA.

The nurses put me at the centre of my own care.  For example, the nurses realised that my post-op medications were not working for me and they helped me to change the drugs I was on when the side effects became too much.  The Morphine blocked up my system and my gut swelled with trapped wind to a point where it created even more agony.  The solution for the gut problems was a shift to drugs that did not give so much pain relief but had less side-effects.  I was happy to put up with increased  pain, as long as my guts felt more like they belonged to me.  My male rugby side helped there.  Sometimes after a rugby match you looked like you’d been hit by a bus.   Pain was a constant in those days.  You learnt how to manage it.  But, I also learnt that the disassociation that comes with doing male things that involve pain and (in the case of the rugby pitch) violence, was not a good thing and that it was OK to say to people that you were suffering.

Initially, the drugs and pain prevented me from articulating what I was going through.  But as the days progressed I reached a stage where I was able to explain to the nurses what I was feeling.  This enabled them to come up with solutions which I greatly appreciated.  There was much tearful hilarity when my body relaxed and the wind finally began to escape.  The noise, which went on for several minutes, was like a first world war plane engine spluttering into action and going off on a trial flight.  A few minutes earlier my stomach had been swollen the size of a medicine ball, now it was back to its trim-self again.

The first of this series of articles highlighted how important humour had been in getting me through this process.  After posting that article I received many supportive comments.  These included one from the male nurse I have just mentioned, who said, ‘Your amazing attitude and sense of humour were key to your recovery’.  That response was very kind.   But of course, that positive side flourished because he and his colleagues demonstrated an excellent ability to listen, involve me in my care and put my best side at the centre of my journey.

These nurses convinced me to try things, like walking again, when my whole body was screaming ‘Don’t do it!’.  The general consensus was that I needed to start to walk again to ensure my digestive system got going.  The first time I got up, we tilted the bed from toe to head (as I wasn’t allowed to bend in case I split the stitches). I slid down till my feet touched the floor and, whilst making a T-shape with my arms and torso, was propelled up by two of the staff like a dancer being put from platform to floor.  Total agony, but, I was up.

When I attempted to move my legs, I could feel black clouds folding over my head and eyes.  A physio saw what was happening and whilst apologising for, ‘invading your personal space’ (so American) grabbed me and kept shouting, ‘keep your eyes open look ahead’ (my wife and two other staff also got involved).  My blood pressure was collapsing and I almost blacked out 5 or 6 times – each time I looked at my wife’s eyes (she was repeatedly slapping me in the face).  The shouting and slapping would briefly bring me back to my senses but then my blood pressure would plummet again and I wasn’t able to hold my head up.  Eventually, there were enough staff to keep my head up and I stabilised for a few minutes.

This first attempt to walk was a nightmare.  But, strangely, I was not put off.  My experience of rugby injuries had taught me that you had to find a way to work with in your limitations until things progressed.  I have to admit, that I was daunted by the prospect of collapsing every time that I got up.  But, the staff were excellent at building my confidence. And, eventually, I was able to stand on my own.  This Gal Holiday song Found Myself Instead, helped me to get through the nightmare that my body had forgotten how to push blood around itself:

For too long I had relied

On someone else til it hurt my pride

Learning to stand on my own again

My legs were weak and my back was bent

… …

Into that storm now I must start

Full of courage and strong of heart

Now I’ll never be mislead

Since I took a walk inside my head

When playing rugby, I had learnt that the vast majority of the game is played in you’re head.  But, I also learnt that it is the connections between the different players in the team that gets you through a game.  When playing in very good teams, that included international players, I always appreciated the aesthetics of the team work.  On our best days it was as if we all knew where we were on the pitch, that our minds were in sync and that there was a poetry to the shapes, running lines and movements we made.  This song reminded me of what I knew already.  If I said I couldn’t get out of bed, it would have been a self-fulfilling prophesy.   I wouldn’t get out of bed and begin to walk again unless we worked as a team.

My attempts to get up were not helped by the impact of the surgery on my insides. As I discussed previously, I had no core, clinch, push or lift muscles.   The nature of the surgery meant that bowel movements were extremely painful and I had to drink strong laxatives (that tasted fowl) to ensure no pushing was required whilst toileting.

Until the moment that I had  tried to get out of bed and walk again, I had been suggesting that the laxatives weren’t working.  I learnt my lesson there and then not to make judgements too early about the meds.  When the laxatives worked the lead nurse gave me the kind of admonishing, ‘Yeh, we might know what we are doing’ look that just made me melt with laughter.  Never was I so pleased to have a bowel movement.  The laxatives meant that, for a few months, I always had to wear a sort of diaper thing when exercising.

There was always a constant danger of re-infection if the wounds were not kept clean.  There was also a a risk that I would undo the surgeons work if I popped the stitches by pushing or moving too much.  I was not allowed to go to the toilet in the everyday way (sitting down).  And, for months, I had to either be lying down or fully standing up – nothing in between.  I felt quite a pressure that I should not do anything  to stop the stitched tissue healing, inside and out.

Initially, I had to go to the toilet in the bed with the use of pads they called chucks and then buzz for a nurse and assistant to clean me up and change the dressings.  As things progressed, I was able to use a bed pan, but it would be months until my core muscles came back and I had full control of my insides.  Indeed, it is only now 12 months on that I no longer have to be very sure of the quickest way to a toilet (thank god for who ever invented pilates) and it is only recently that I have been able to stop taking a change of clothes with me where ever I go.

I explained to an American friend the difficulties I was having and he sent this link (The Night The Lights Went Out) about a guy called Drew who ended up in hospital after a brain haemorrhage.  Though the cause of our hospitalisation is different and, if you follow the link, Drew has a slightly different take on his experience, I realised that by writing about my experience I would be able to make meaning of it and come to terms with the trauma I experienced.

My work in the health field had taught me about the dangers of male disassociation techniques that bury our experience.  We have to find ways of articulating the pain, suffering and sheer exhaustion of our life experiences.

thumbnail_image (1)My lack of ability to eat during the operations and subsequent loss of appetite, due to the morphine, meant I lost about 30 pounds in weight.  After the near collapse episode, I was assessed as a fall risk and that assessment restricted my subsequent freedom of movement.

I greatly missed the ability to hill-walk (I was walking about 3-5 miles a day before I went on holiday) and this feeling was increased by the fact that, beyond the hospital window, I could see the hills that I never got to walk up.   I greatly struggled to learn to walking again with the use of a stroller, one-step at a time.

Because I was moving so little, I had to have regular shots of blood thinner to stop the chance of clots. I was reminded of my disability work when I was asked where I wanted the blood thinner shot.  It was not a real choice.  A real choice would have been no blood thinner, the choice I was given was in the arm or abdomen.  I chose my abdomen because it seemed to me the place the shot was going into did not matter but what did matter was the skill and balance of the person using the needle.  My abdomen being nearer the nurses end of the bed, I felt they would have better balance from not having to stretch over equipment and wouldn’t stick the needle in so far that it hurt a lot. The very experienced nurses injected like ninjas – you hardly knew it had happened.  Also, I concluded that since there was a lot of pain down that way anyway, it would make no difference.

Since I wasn’t allowed to sit up, eating and drinking was really tricky (eventually I was allowed a 20% tilt of the bed which helped a little).  I have a close disabled friend, who I used to work with, who now is a comedian and actor.  He always drinks through a straw and for many months I was comforted by that fact when having to go through the pitfalls of trying to consume liquids.  I previously worked with disabled children and helped them with their food at lunch times.  So having someone feed me seemed to have a neat equilibrium to it.  As if balancing the caring roles that I had previously carried out for others.  Inhaling your food has no positives, spilling liquid all over the place can be tiresome, but in reality I did not mind.  This was the new me.

Some friends and family members had thought to come to the USA to support me but I asked them not to; as there wasn’t much I could do and I didn’t really have the energy for too many visitors.  The care in the hospital was superb, so I thought I didn’t need much else. For those of you worrying about social isolation, I have a message.  I later realised that the choice of stiff upper lip and no visitors was probably the wrong choice.  The solitude did not aid my recovery.  This Elise Davis song seems to capture that, world passing you buy feeling, that I experienced.

However, all was not lost.  I was saved by social media: FaceTime, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, iTunes Youtube and the long distance email support from friends and family.  Youtube screened Chanel 4 news and this kept me up to date with the  UK politics, getting the popcorn out to watch Teresa May lose vote after vote at Westminster gave me a boost.

STV News kept me up to date with what was going on in Scotland.  And, occasional appearances on TV by Nicola Sturgeon, The first minister of Scotland, and her tweets on the human side of being a politician, lifted the spirits.  There is something very endearing about Nicola’s ability to not take herself too seriously.

I could watch the news but I could not face fictional TV programmes that faced me with the reality of everyday things I was missing.  And, here lies a lesson.  Getting stuck into all those box sets may not be the solution to the crisis – if they make you feel depressed.

Similarly, social media enables us to make contact with our friends but we need to be wary, at this time of the Corona Virus, about the negative aspects of social media e.g. facebook and twitter bullies that deliberately pick on a word in your post in order to satisfy their own superiority/inferiority complex. Or negative click bait press stories that are exaggerated to fuel your anxiety and sell adverts.  We also have to watch what we post, take time about our sentences because people are easily offended over this medium.

We also have to watch we do not over read things into the text comments that people make on our posts.  We need to remember that text lacks the human touch and, often, comes across as so much more brutal than the writer intended.

My advice is to ration your consumption of news stories and tap into things you enjoy e.g. in my case, radio shows helped me come to terms with what i was going through.  In particular, NOLA County which is presented by Jimi Palacios seemed to have loads of songs that captured the imperfections of my experience.

Palacios has a great ear for a meaningful lyric and tune.  I have used his mixcloud and spotify playlists when selecting songs for these articles.  And, it is a tribute to the Americana/Ameripolitan music genre’s empathetic and creative abilities, that I have been able to use so much of the music from NOLA County, in a meaningful way, to express my feelings about my experience.

Good books and movies can help you to express your feelings. But, often, when we are experiencing a crisis, the world out there is so overwhelming. Or, like this Sam Doores song, the books and movies don’t work because they remind you of the party you are missing:

Boy what a party we will have when this is all over.

During my post-operation recovery, the staff came in at night to change my IV drips and give me medication, I was turned and had dressings changed every two hours, so proper deep sleep never really happened.  The food was pretty good, I managed to chart my way through the hospital menu with support from excellent catering staff and the occasional visit from a dietitian who would chide me for not eating enough.

The only really dodgy food was the porridge which was tasteless, like wall paper paste (Nairn’s or Scott’s have an open market for them in America).  I was also given formula milkshakes that were supposed to help my nerve damage heal.  The milkshakes tasted like concentrated earwax.  As an adult, I have never really been sweet toothed but, once my taste buds came back to me, I developed a love for the various flavours of cookies on the menu, not least because they took away the taste of the milkshakes.

I found it difficult to write in any meaningful way.  The pain killers sort of dulled your ability to construct sentences.  But I did try to express myself through poetry, writing song lyrics and posting on my Facebook page.  I have to admit though, that when I came off the drugs I did have a laugh at some of the more incoherent things I posted.  I was desperate to be smuggled out of the hospital for karaoke and beer – but in reality I knew that could not happen. The drugs, the pain and the lack of sleep had a side effect which meant I hallucinated about the things I had been trying to write about and, often, could not quite tell the difference between real things that happened and my hallucinations.  This song by Morgan Wade – called The Night, has lines in it that express the feeling of the madness I experienced:

Why Do The Demons In My Mind

They Wont Leave Me Alone

Its The Pistol And The Bottle

Its The Drugs And It’s The Throttle

That Tell Me They’ll Make Me Feel Alive

But I Know Good And Well That Ain’t Gonna Help

I’m Just Pray Prayin I Make It Thru The Night

 

I am a bit ambivalent about the fact that the infection risk meant I had to be kept away from other patients and was put into a separate room.  You might think this was some kind of ‘privilege’.  But in reality, it did not help with my emotional state and I was so lucky that the nurses in the USA took time to build a relationship with me that included talking about stuff that was not to do with my health care  – a couple of the nurses had a keen interest in boxing and correctly predicted that Josh Taylor, the Scottish professional boxer would become the unified world light-welterweight champion.  It was nice to know that from our country of only 5 million, or so, people there are some people such as Josh who are spoken about, in a country such as the USA, in glowing terms.

My wife visited, but I could see the toll that these moments were taking on her.  So, eventually, I recommended that she move to the nicest hotel nearby and try and find some normality.  We were lucky that we had the financial security to make such a decision.  There was a time in my twenties where I didn’t have a penny to rub together, and was unemployed, homeless and loveless.  So I greatly appreciate how lucky we were in the USA and how our financial security contrasts with the financial insecurity that the Corona Virus has visited on so many people.

When I met my wife, she was the major breadwinner, had a car and a flat.  By then, I had a job that included accommodation but I did not have a home.  This song, Lucky Sometimes, sung by Pokey LaFarge explains how lucky I was:

I owe my wife such a great debt for enriching my life.  The toughest aspect of our experience was seeing what it was doing to my wife.  My wife’s sense of well-being was not helped by having to go home, alone, to a holiday apartment each day.  The hotel had a pool where she could relax and I hoped that she might feel less isolated with other guests around her.  I also asked her to only come in for a short time once a day because I could see the experience was making her ill.

Being alone in the USA and having to visit a grumpy, incoherent and incapacitated me, was not the holiday she had expected.  But, she was helped by an amazingly kind Samaritan from Dundee called Jean who worked in the hospital.  This wonderful woman befriended my wife and I, gave us loads of support, helped my wife get in and out to the hospital, and team-tagged on visits to me to ensure my wife could have time away from the hospital.

Jean summed up for me what it means to be Scottish. When she heard a Scotsman had been admitted to the hospital, she came to check what she could do.  From the moment she met us, she treated us like kin.  She would arrive with a bag of stuff to cheer me up, chat to me about anything and everything and laugh with me about the ridiculous stuff I was doing.  At this time, there will be many people in Scotland and the USA who need a kind Samaritan such as Jean – I hope those of you who are reading this are able to be that person for those who need you most.  Currently, loads of people are volunteering to do their bit but we must not lose those connections when the lock down is over, we must built better countries from those connections.

I was in hospital for most of April and early May.   I didn’t feel much use to man nor beast and these two songs seemed to sum up the feeling of the desolation blues I experienced:

Noah Cyrus ft. Leon Bridges – July

The line in the first song,  ‘You know I, I’m afraid of change. Guess that’s why we stay the same’ explains a lot of the inertia that folk get into.  In my case, I had no choice but to accept that things had changed.

The second song below is about being stuck. I love the teenage angst of Dr Dog’s song.  It portrays that feeling when you can’t cope with a change in your love life and can not move on from the heart break.  Dr Dog reminds me of my teen-self. I have learnt the hard way in life, that wallowing in heart break can be a form of self harm.  We have to be very careful, in the weeks ahead, that we do not fall into this way of being.

With all that is going on around us, it may be that at times we feel defeated.  My experience taught me that we can accept and understand that people get stuck in moments of heart  break, that we will have times when we feel defeated but, also, that there is no shame in feeling down.  We have to reach out to others when we feel over whelmed.  We have to find kind ways to help ourselves and others out of the defeated states that we are feeling.

Jim Song by Dr Dog

Over a ten day period my life had changed for ever.  I had had 4 operations, I had somehow survived, but, I was not out of the woods yet (infection wise). Every aspect of life that I had taken for granted (toileting, drinking, eating and walking) had been challenged.  My blood pressure was all over the place.  I was in an unreal deluded state.  But, one step at a time, I was trying to find the light in all the darkness. What else can you do? When your world is turned upside down?

Tune in next time for Article 4, where I will explore how small acts of kindness can make the difference. and also, unfortunately, talk about some of the more grumpy and distressing things that happened during my stay in hospital.  Things that tested the limits of my positive attitude and my mental well-being.