On Dignity & Perseverance

Dignity, perseverance. These two words, I wrote them down in a note this week.

I use my i-phone all the time to keep important things in mind, these words came up in conversation, and they struck a chord.

I often feel so shabby. My lips were amputated after Sepsis, so I can’t eat and drink without dropping food and liquids all over me. My false arms and legs look bulky, ugly and awkward underneath my clothes. My half-reconstructed face is a bad coming together of Modigliani and Picasso. Also, in my mind, I carry a busted piano with all the wrong notes.

But if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I try.

I’m a good old Essex boy at heart, and I’ll never, ever give up. So, when I catch myself feeling short of dignity – when I’m falling over my prosthetic feet or struggling mentally with something that comes intuitively to other grown-ups (post-sepsis syndrome), I remind myself of where I’ve come from.

Nineteen years ago, I died. I woke up in Addenbrookes hospital, with my mind and body totally, completely broken.

I had lost my feet, my hands, my face. I couldn’t recognise anyone in my family.

So, how incredible is it that I can now look back at what is nearly 2 decades now, and not only say that I have survived, but that I have also managed to hold my family together, and to be a better person in myself? How much is that worth? I’m more thoughtful, more aware, more balanced. I may be severely disabled, but now I’m super-strong. I can stand up in front of 500 people and talk with insight, confidence and humour about how to recover from a setback.

That’s where my dignity lies. That’s my success.

It’s not superficial. I don’t look like Tom Cruise, and I wouldn’t fit in on a photoshoot for anything, but cut me, and I’d bleed strength and commitment. I follow through. I had to learn how to walk again at 38, how to wash myself, how to get up and face every new day when I felt utterly, utterly destroyed inside. Even though I look rough, now I really do feel good about myself.

I wonder how you’re feeling today? After the rush and fuss of Christmas, as the new Year comes on? After everything that happened to you in 2018?

This week I’m reading Ruby Wax’s book ‘Sane New World: Taming The Mind’, because Ruby makes me laugh, and I’m persevering in this lifetime goal of trying to improve myself. I need to be more aware. That’s what I need – more than money, more than anything. Awareness, understanding. That’s what will get me through.

Perseverance. After everything that’s happened, that’s what’s left.

I show up for work at the Call Centre, I go to every Leicester City game, I endure the physical and mental pain of my disability. It’s OK. And I know it’s what you do, too. You look after your stuff, your jobs, your kids, your cars. You work hard to keep your conscious and unconscious thoughts in order.

Let’s congratulate ourselves for all these dignified, persevering activities. They speak volumes about who we are and what we believe in. They mean a lot. Happy New Year everybody.

Let’s make it a good one!