It was this time of year, nineteen years ago, Sepsis nearly killed me.
Time is a jet plane, it moves so fast. What have I achieved, in nearly two decades of my rehabilitation?
I got up out of my hospital bed, and I crawled back home. I learned to walk on prosthetic legs, then I got the best myoelectric hands that were available to me. Little by little, I worked out how to look after myself, to brush my teeth, to wash, to make drinks & simple meals.
I started driving again, so I could take my daughter & son to and from school. I got a job, and I stuck with it, making good friends and getting myself out of the house. I worked hard to make myself a better writer, and I produced professional scripts for BBC Radio Drama.
None of this has been easy. There has been profound physical and mental pain. Often, I have felt scared, and sometimes lonely. It has taken me a very long time to overcome a sense of anger about what Sepsis has done to me & the fact that I could not be the husband & father I planned to be.
But here I am. Older, wiser, still in the game after two decades. In all of this, the turning point has been in realising that although my own concerns can be extreme, it’s not all about me.
This is very crucial. I know we’re meant to place ourselves at the centre of our universe, but what we give is more important than what we receive, and by focusing on the concerns of others, we can improve our understanding and appreciation of the amazing, complicated and beautiful world around us.
This is why my family are the true core of my resilience. Knowing they need me to do the very best I can for them has given me huge motivation and courage every day, and whenever I have felt I’m not up to the challenge of my disabilities, I’ve stepped back into the fight, for their sake.
So, December. It’s tricky, and it’s full of difficult memories. A history of loss, complicated by the sense of expectation around 3 family birthdays and Christmas itself. Just like for the last 19 years, I have to be the most outstanding version of myself that I can – because the people who love me deserve that.
I think of everyone else out there, all struggling with their own issues at this time of the year – particularly, family stuff, that somehow suddenly becomes so much more significant as the holiday season comes on.
We can only be kind. Thoughtful. Reasonable and calm. Earlier this week, I wrote down the words dignity and perseverance. Disability has often made me feel ugly and ashamed during the last nineteen years, but I know I’ll keep on trying, because what I have is all I have left. And there is still love.