So it would seem that most of my posts to date have been around either, finding your creativity in the chaos, your serenity in a situation or your hope when you’re in a heap… I’d like to think of it all as the season of winter.
Before you think that’s all I’ve got to say, let me put your mind at ease. We are going to go down all sorts of wonderful creative avenues, marked by twists and turns and vistas along the way. But it would seem that this theme emerged of its own accord (as often happens with creative projects), so I’ll linger here just a little longer.
We fell into winter very quickly at the start of this year. In fact, we didn’t even see it coming. We were driving down the road on a rainy summer day when a speeding driver traveling in the opposite direction careened into our car. My husband and I woke up in the car totally stunned, not knowing what had happened or where our kids were. But we knew it was bad.
My memory from the accident to the hospital is very patchy, but a few things stuck out… Dave in a daze calling and recalling family members to tell them what happened; a women with black hair holding my crying baby in the rain saying,”Don’t worry, I’ve got your kids. I’ve got your kids”; the paramedic asking me what my pain was like out of 10 and me replying a 6… That is until they actually moved me out the car; and about 30 seconds of the ambulance ride to the hospital. From the x-ray room onwards, with family members reassuring us and medical professionals attending to us, I slowly started to piece things together.
We were all ok… But the accident was serious. Dave suffered a major concussion, whiplash, multiple cuts, rib injury and deep bruising. Max, my son who was just under 3 at the time, had bleeding on the brain and stayed in hospital for 5 days to recover. My baby, Chase who was 9 months at the time, had managed to escape without a scratch, a true miracle when you consider the fact that his carseat was full of glass. I landed up with my pelvis and hips broken like a jigsaw puzzle, two fractured vertebrae in my lower back, a cracked sacrum, a broken knuckle, a puncture wound on my right hip, concussion and loads of bruising (yes I could have competed with Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat with all the yellow, purple, blue and red I was parading). Although my injuries were extensive, the only thing the doctors decided to treat surgically was my broken knuckle. They agreed that all the other injuries would heal best conservatively and so I was put on complete bed rest to allow the bones to slowly start to knit together again. With a three week hospital stay and then on to a two-week rehabilitation facility, I was away from my hubby and my babies for 5 weeks.
So yes, I had a little thinking time while I lay there, and I jotted down some of my thoughts. I’d like to share a little bit of our winter experience in the next few posts in what I call…
Musings from a hospital bed
We’ve all heard the phrase “Attitude determines Altitude” and it’s true that. But more than that, I’ve come to realise these past weeks in hospital, is that “Attitude determines Influence.”
Watching people going about their daily routines, particularly nurses, has shown me just how much your attitude determines the impact you make on those around you. For one nurse, everything is a mission – asking for anything gets met with a huff and rolling eyes, polite thank you’s are never acknowledged, bed baths are done with all the gentleness of hosing down a muddy dog, and sometimes I’m actually scared. With a broken body, you feel vulnerable at the best of times, so not knowing how someone is going to handle you is, well, petrifying.
And then there are other people who are beautiful through and through. One nurse in particular approaches her work as a calling. Her attitude is filled with grace and kindness, and everything she does, she does with care. She’s not about getting a job done, but about caring for your soul, while she cares for your body. She’ll make sure she’s aware of where you’re sore, bring things within your reach so you can manage when she leaves the room, tuck you in and make sure you’re comfortable with a thoughtfulness that’s simply astounding. Her words are always gentle and encouraging, except for when she’s berating other nurses for “being here just for the money.” Because of her attitude, she has made a remarkable influence on my life and I will always remember her.
Yes attitude may determine how high you can soar personally (altitude), but it also determines how far and wide you reach out to people around you, your influence… Let’s call it latitude. What’s your outward-focused latitude-attitude looking like? If there’s one thing I’ve learned by being here, it’s that I want to aim not higher, but wider. Attitude determines Latitude.
Photograph “Martindale Pond” by Norman Hanna