I’m sat here, just back from holidays trying to get my head around what to do with all our stuff, catching up on the TV programmes I’ve missed. Watching BBC’s programme ‘Ambulance’, there’s a scene where the paramedics are trying their best to help a homeless young man. He walks out of the hospital and they pick him up on the street and take him to a nearby hostel. All looks fairly hopeful, a warm place, a bed for the night and a hot meal, when the hostel informs them that there are no places available that night. The young man gives up and walks off into the night. This got me thinking that this could’ve been THE moment where his life could have changed. Maybe he could have been reunited with his family, had somewhere safe to life and maybe even started changing his life. One moment that could have changed his life, one moment which just didn’t happen.
All of a sudden, I was reminded of one such moment in my life which could have just been nothing but it was to be the one moment that did actually change the course of my life.
On our first trip after my fracture, when we were trying to have some semblance of a normal life, we went to an apartment hotel called C&A in Polis, Cyprus that specialised in disabled people. It had everything we needed, wet rooms, everything on one level and ramps, pool hoists, handrails the lot. It also had a communal style eating area where we all sat together on a long table, ostensibly to meet people and make new friends but also to be able to talk freely about our issues. For the whole fortnight, we chatted and discussed our issues and spoke to the same people each night until one night, a couple, unknown to us all came for dinner. They were staying in a neighbouring adapted villa and called in for some food. They sat opposite us and because they were of a similar age to us, we started chatting. Her husband and P chatted happily, they were both in the same position, caring for their wives at home so it was good for them to chat about their own issues and worries.
I chatted with the lady and as it transpired, she had suffered a spinal injury after falling down the stairs at home and was now paralysed from the chest down with chronic pain issues. She was three years post fracture and had come to terms with most of her issues and was quite happy to talk frankly with me. She asked me what my history was and after telling her what had happened, I confessed that I was really worried about all the paperwork for the Pension people, for the Insurance people and how I felt pressurised into having further surgery to fit into the Insurance people’s ‘criteria’ so they would pay out and pay off our mortgage. I felt I had no control over what was happening to me but knew that we would probably lose the house if I didn’t comply. She looked at me with the most beautiful blue eyes and started to talk to me, explaining that no one apart from me was in control of what was to happen next. She was so calm and knowledgable and everything she said seemed so obvious. She said she had been a High Court manager and had worked with solicitors, lawyers and barristers all her life until her fracture and said that I had no need to be worried about the legal side of things, I could say ‘no’ to the surgery and take some control back. Also, having been through her treatment, she had so much experience with specialists and said I had every reason to say no, not when the surgery had been contraindicated by my two other consultants.
Half an hour later, I felt completely different; beforehand, I couldn’t have seen a way through all my worries, I honestly thought that I didn’t have a say in anything, that I had to go along with everything anyone in authority said. The constant pain had taken away every ounce of fight within me, I was desperately just trying to get through each day and would jump through any ‘hoop’ to get our future secured. Suddenly, I felt different, she had restored some of my confidence and I felt I had some kind of plan for when I got home. We all chatted more for a while, then it was time for them to turn in for the night, they left and we never saw them again.
And that was it, one moment in time where it changed everything; I found the confidence to say no to the surgery, the surgeon agreed and gave me painkilling injections instead, I completed all the paperwork and with my consultant’s help, got my Pension sorted and then the insurance people came up trumps and we kept the house.
All because of that one, seemingly innocuous half hour chat with a total stranger whose name to this day, I cannot remember, all because of the one moment that changed everything….……