Do You Mind?

Hospital corridor, 6AM. Hum of the electric lights, distant sounds of doors, swinging and clanging. Soft footsteps on linoleum floors.

Side room, and a body in a bed. Half a man, sitting upright, eyes wide open and crying.

This is me, after waking from my Sepsis coma, in April 2000. It’s taken me a few days to realise that I no longer have hands, that I no longer have feet. Plus, my face feels different.

Oh.

When I say my face feels different – it’s like a firework has hit it, and after thinking about it for a few days, I’ve worked out that half of it has been amputated. I no longer have a nose, lips or chin.

They might as well have extracted the soul from inside of me, I am so utterly, completely devastated.

Fast forward 3 months, and I’m sitting in the same hospital bed, but this time I’m perched own the side of it, wearing going home clothes, and I have a suitcase packed ready by the door.

I wanted to write about this. Needed to remember. Because I have at this point this incredible sense of how everything in my life would now be different. Better. I mean that I see my sudden disability as a chance to become more mindful, more aware of the blessings that remain. Things that I took for granted have suddenly become centre stage.

Sepsis has taken a great deal away from me – but in a strange way, it has also gifted me something unique. It feels like I have a second chance to grow into a different kind of man. A husband and a father who is good to be around and who treasures the simple pleasures of still being alive.

I have to admit that 19 years on, I’ve not yet become that man. I’ve gone some way, but I’ve not made the full journey.

Let me be completely honest with you. Living with severe disability is very, very hard. Imagine it, then multiply the hardships by a thousand times. Aside from the physical and mental pain, I have had tremendous difficulty finding and keeping work and supporting my family. It feels to me like they have paid a heavy price for my suffering, too.

You know that I keep on trying, and that I’ll never stop trying to do my best. I have a wife, a daughter and a son who need me to be the best possible version of myself — even in these circumstances. Plus I have a duty to be as happy and fulfilled as I can be – that’s my commitment to all the men, women and children who did not survive sepsis. They’re gone forever. I must represent them and all their goodness in the best possible way.

So in 2019 I’m taking action to do all I can to be that improved, mindful man who is good to be around. I want to inspire others to make the most of their precious lives. I’m going to think carefully before I speak out, I’m going to see the wider perspective, plus the good intentions that motivate the actions of all the fine people around me.

I’ll be breathing the pure fresh air of this beautiful world around me, whilst I’m still so fortunate to be a part of it. I’m going to laugh lot and be thankful for all the love I have in my life. Shall we all do that together?

How can we be more mindful in 2019? Headspace is a great app, I’d recommend it and you can find more details here:

https://www.headspace.com