Often in our every day lives we get stuck in a rut and feel like our life is not our own, due to work and family commitments, and sometimes we can be doing the same thing over and over again, without having a chance to recharge our batteries. We do things so fast that we fail to notice the beauty in everyday things that are all around us, and we ignore our feelings and those of the people around us too. I have often found that I just didn’t have the time to relax. Many people were telling me to slow down and relax and chill out, but to me I was just doing things as normal and just carried on, failing to notice the tell-tale signs of my body getting tired.
This was all until the day my life changed totally, and I came back down to earth with a massive bump, and realised I was not indestructible any more and I could break! Most of my life I have been in good health and have had few accidents, but this was the start of something big for me.
I used to do medieval sword fighting for about 15 years or so, and I was practicing for a festival and slipped on some mud. It all happened in just a few seconds. My leg snapped out away from me at a right angle, and I heard a loud snap and fell in great pain to the floor. I then swore for a few seconds and then I guess I felt nothing. I looked at my leg and decided to try to put it back, along with my knee cap. Now I am no expert, but I did manage to put things back quite well and then everything started to swell as I sat on the floor. My friends were all looking at me as if I was messing around, but my wife Sara, knew I had actually hurt myself. We were in the middle of some woods and I could not be moved, as our first aider said it was best to stay still, even though I still thought I could walk and get back to the car park. Who was I trying to kid?
The ambulance staff arrived about a hour after my accident and rushed me off to hospital where I was given gas and air while they moved my leg about and x-rayed it. Ouch! The gas and air didn’t seem to work very well. I left the hospital a while after on crutches, with a leg brace to keep it all still and safe. My knee was the size of a small football and my ankle was the size of a tennis ball. I had to then wait until the swelling went down before going to have a MRI scan to see what damage I had done. The results were worse than I thought. I thought I would be off work for a few weeks, but I did not return back to work for over 10 months. It turned out that I had a patella dislocation and fracture, ACL and MCL ruptures, a sprained ankle and nerve damage. I had to learn to walk again and build my leg muscles back up, as they had wasted away because I could not walk for months. I had so much pain and discomfort and had many challenges to overcome, but I remember watching summer go by out of my window and wishing I could be out there in the sun, or even in the rain.
I thought I would never walk again. But I did my physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, and got stronger, and now I can walk again and enjoy the sun and rain once more. I still get pain and swelling, but I am just happy to be able to walk and do some of the normal things I used to do. However, I can’t do all of the things I did before and can no longer do the sword fighting.
One thing I am able to do is one of my most favourite things, and that is camping and survival training. I have been able to take people to Wales and show them how to do simple things, like lighting fires, identifying wild foods and how to survive in the wild, and it gives me a great sense of wellbeing and peace. I have been interested camping and survival, and have been visiting the beautiful landscapes of Wales, since I was 12 years of age, and every time I go out there, I feel free and my life slows down again. I recently went over with friends and set off early in the morning on my own as they had decided to stay in bed. I wanted to capture a sunrise and I sat and ate porridge and drank tea and felt the warmth of the sun on my face once again. This was my first real hike since my injury, and made me feel I had completed a great challenge. I remember feeling that I was glad to be alive and despite my injury, I had made it and life was great. Maybe by reading this, it will get you thinking about your life, and how you can slow down and relax, and notice the beauty around you, and avoid an injury!
My life had changed so much. I have lost friends and made new ones, and I have started new hobbies and became closer to the people I love, and I fell in love with my wife all over again. So don’t wait until you have the time to look around you. Stop now and act to appreciate what you have and those close to you, and how you can make life better for yourself.