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BEING MORTAL - a personal memoire


'In October last year, I read ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawanda. A few weeks later, after experiencing severe pain and undergoing an MRI assessment, it was diagnosed that I had burst a disc between my last two spinal vertebrae. January realised the surgery itself in order to clean up the disc, to artificially replace it and to fuse my last two vertebrae. This episode included two operations due to a complication and an 11 day hospital stay. Was reading this book a temp on fate I have asked myself?

I don’t really want to know that answer, but what I do know is that unconsciously it had prepared me for my ‘medical experience’ and ‘event’. The reality was that although being in my 50’s I was to still be considered relatively fit and young, I was getting older and as such, I needed to develop a resilience and courage to face aging.

Albeit that I had considered myself resilient and courageous, there were a few things that I learned. As resilient as you might think you are, or as strong as your faith might be, you may experience a short time or period where you lose hope. This loss of hope is a dark place and it was only reaching out to those I loved that gave me the scaffolding to pull myself up and out of it. Sometimes, you need to set your pride aside and just ask. As far as being in hospital goes too, if you don’t ask, you won't receive. Things may go wrong for no good reason. This is when you need to draw on a sense of humour and laugh about it. When visitors ask if they can bring you anything, don’t say ‘no thanks’. Accept their care and generosity. I was well-off with supplies of chocolate which sustained me when the pain-killers could not.

Now as I lie at home recuperating, I reflect on the saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’. My take on it is that bad things happen and as humans, being able to allocate a reason, or a good few reasons to it, aids in the acceptance thereof. So in addition to my learnings being my reasons, this period has strengthened my resolve to a live a fit, healthy and outdoor-orientated life once recuperated and to take my deepened sense of empathy as a result of experiencing true physical pain, into my coaching practice. For now, it is a blessed unexpected time for further reading, reflection and just enjoying being alive.


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