I watched a programme last night about the Invictus Games team selection.
The Games are open to those that have served in the British armed forces, the whole idea having been spawned by the Ginger Prince.
There was a lady interviewed and featured in the programme that by pure chance I’d met about a month ago in France. She, like me, was on a sitski, but I chatted to her briefly in a ‘ mountain restaurant ‘ on the slopes. She was very upbeat in every way about the skiing and showed no sign of paraplegia having mentally dented her enthusiasm for life.
What effect did that have on me? Did it inspire and encourage me? Did it steel me and drive me on?
No, it didn’t. It did none of that actually. It made me feel a failure for not having progressed past this injury and embrace what there was in life still to have, as it seemed that she had. She gave no indication at all that SCI had adversely affected her at all. The guy with her said ‘ she’s amazing, she just gets on with it and never complains ‘
I saw her on her sitski an hour or so later and she was going pretty well.. not necessarily a lot better than me, but she was, I’d say, smiling more than me.
What did help me was a part of the programme where I saw her interviewed and she spoke more honestly about the effects of her injury ( motorbike accident ). She revealed that for 3 years she had barely left her bedroom, and had cried for most of each day of those 3 long years.
It’s not yet even been 3 years since my injury. It’s not much more than 2 years since I left hospital. In that time I have travelled all over the world, tried various risky sports, returned to work, and faced the world most days – in my new incarnation as a wheelchair inhabiter… So you could say I’m ahead of the curve. It hasn’t felt that way, as I’m still very reluctant to accept how it now is, but the evidence I suppose speaks for itself. I’m sure I’m not always a joy to be around, as I am still prone to moments/spells/periods of indescribable sadness during which I only think that death would have been better…. but those thoughts are not deliberate, not willed to be in my head, but come anyway ( and totally out of the blue very often ). I do get less of them of late, and they last less time. I’ve realised too that I’ve started to re-appreciate things – sunny days, funny moments for example. I found myself laughing out loud yesterday at something, and I realised that I hadn’t done that for perhaps 3 years.
So there is progress.
Thanks to the very kind Jo Wright for her time recently, to Debs for last night, to two of my students for their company, to Mike and Teresa Smith for Saturday, and to Clare in advance for tomorrow ( where I try sailing…). Not renowned for my luck in boats of late, so who knows what’ll happen…