I had a nasty accident ten days ago.
I was knocked off my bike in town by an unobservant driver, ending up in a dramatic pool of blood in the middle of the road. Broken nose, teardrop fracture to my 7th cervical vertebra, lots of lacerations and bruises, and a fair bit of post-traumatic stress.....
But also many reasons to be cheerful.
1. It could all have been so much worse. I’m still here. No brain injury (thank you, crash helmet). No spinal cord damage.
2. The kindness of strangers. I’ve written about this before, and here was living proof of it. Within seconds I was surrounded by passers-by making sure I was alright and got the help I needed. Top of the list of good Samaritans was Tracey Saphier, a nurse on her way home from work, who took charge of the whole scene, making sure I didn’t move, mopping blood out of my eyes, talking to Sue on the phone, checking on ambulance arrival time. Thank you kind people of Liverpool, thank you Tracey.
3. Our NHS is great in a crisis. It really is. Forget the bad press it gets these days. The ambulance team who got me onto a stretcher and secured my neck; the amazing trauma team in the Royal Liverpool Hospital who checked me out from top to toe in a matter of minutes (while chatting to me about bikes and cycling gear); spinal surgeon Marcus de Matas who took all possible care of my neck fracture; and the staff on Ward 4a who looked after me while I couldn’t move for three days. I needed their help, and they were there.
4. Sue is wonderful in a crisis. She really is. She arrived at the hospital before the ambulance, fed me yoghurt when I couldn’t reach the hospital food, guided me through a psychic meltdown, and now is getting me back on my feet at home. I needed her help, and she was there.
5. The love of family and friends. Thank you all for being there, for your kind words and actions, for looking after Sue as well as me.
6. My neck brace. My exo-skeleton (non-biologists, google it!) for the next three months. It’s keeping my neck and back safe, and is deeply reassuring.
7. Time out. Now I can watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad in one go.
All of the above (well, maybe not the Breaking Bad bit) are parts of something bigger, something that I haven’t quite worked out but seems profound to me. For a while there, lying in the road and in hospital, I was in a real mess, completely helpless and utterly dependent on the care of others - something I’m not at all used to.
And it was OK. In fact more than OK, it was liberating. I didn’t need to try and control my own destiny, it was fine to let go. I could relax. I felt – no, I knew – that I was in safe hands.
So, one final reason to be cheerful.
8. Being alive is wonderful.