A Year Ago Today, and I was left wondering if I’d ever paint again….
I’ve debated sharing this, as it’s taken a lot of internal processing to get to this point. I’ve touched on this story before, but decided I would share it in full today, because the underlying message is so important…
So, grab a cuppa, take a couple of minutes, and read on to learn from my mistakes….!
11th June 2018… One year ago today.
I remember it well. It had been a long day, squeezing too much in as usual. I was always so adamant I should be able to juggle it all……
It was getting late, and I was shattered, but decided to do one last thing before bedtime, and empty the bins.
I knew I was tired. I knew it could have waited until the morning. But, I went and did it anyway.
I was already in my pyjama top. It was almost 10pm. The long June evening, just about holding enough light to see what I was doing outside.
The wheelie bin was full, so I pushed it down with my hands to make some space…. (Stupid… Don’t ever do that, especially in the dark!)
I felt something, looked down, and strained my eyes in the twilight. Ah, nothing, just a scratch, doesn’t hurt.
Next, what seemed like slow motion, sped up…. SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTT….. Deep dark liquid suddenly came from nowhere…. I abandoned the bin, clamped my hand to my wrist, and got myself back indoors.
My wrist was throbbing by now, I thought I was going to be sick, I wouldn’t make a good first aider…! I raced to the sink, afraid to look, but wanting to wash it as quickly as possible, having no idea what I’d cut it on, but knowing an outside recycling bin in the hot summer, it probably wouldn’t be good.
My son, and a family friend were there, and could see something was wrong.
I won’t go into all the gory panicked details, but they helped me find bandages, cloths and kitchen roll, bundled me in the car, and got me to the hospital with my hand held high, clamped around my wrist.
I was so grateful they were there to help me.
So, there I was… sat in my pyjamas in Watford A&E, trying not to loose the plot, but frankly… (and excuse the language) shitting myself.
You know, the whole body shaking, teeth chattering, adrenaline filled, wait for your name to be called, terrified to find out what I’d done….
It transpired that I’d narrowly missed my main artery, by a few millimetres.
A long story short, I was pretty much out of action for weeks. The repair glue job they did at the hospital didn’t take, and I discovered I still had an open gaping wound six days later when I soaked the dressings off. That meant more trips to the hospital, and uncertainty around how well it would heal.
It was a 4.5 centimetre cut, deep into my wrist, starting less than a centimetre away from my main artery on my right hand, sweeping down in a cresent shape… made by a large sweetcorn tin lid which had been left half pulled from the tin. (Always take your tin lids off and discard them safely inside!)
I’m sure if you’re in the medical profession, a wound of this sort would be second nature, a standard superficial wound. But for me, having never experienced anything like it, left unable to use my hand at all, to lift, grip, or hold anything, it was terrifying…
Especially as it was the hand I painted with….
Everyone pitched in at home, helped, and rallied around, whilst I was forced to slow down, and allow my body the job of healing itself. Slowing down is not something I did easily.
But, as a result…. I had plenty of time to think…
You know what my biggest thought that kept SCREAMING at me was…?
“You’ve NOT PAINTED properly IN OVER A YEAR (building project, no studio and all)… and now YOU-MIGHT-NEVER-BE-ABLE-TO-AGAIN….!!”
Truth was, I just didn’t know, and it frightened the life out of me.
Would the tendons and ligaments heal back into their right places? Would I need treatment to correct it? Who knew, it was a time, and waiting game, and I had to sit and ride it out.
It all felt so uncertain, and after a while, for sanity sake, I had to stop berating myself about it, pick myself up, and just get on with it……
I got very good at using my left hand, and found lots of useful dictaphone tools that I didn’t know about before…
But, it’s the things you just take for granted, you don’t think about needing two hands for…
Taking the lid off the lip gloss pot. Plugging the charger into your phone. Spraying on your deodorant. Squeezing your toothpaste out of the tube. Yes, of course, you manage it, but everything is frustratingly clumsy and slow.
Gripping and lifting were my biggest issues, my arm ached, pulled, and was downright painful and uncomfortable for weeks. Holding a pen, or paintbrush, impossible.
Life has a funny way of slowing us down sometimes. It took a long time of analysing, and looking for the lessons.
I hadn’t been taking time for me, I was just too busy putting others first, and not prioritising my own passions. I didn’t have time to that today, I’d do that TOMORROW…
Luckily for me, one year on, it’s mostly fine now, I have full use of my hand, and I’m back painting.
It still gives me an occasional ache, and I suddenly have to slather my balm* on, but I now use that as a reminder to stop, and ask myself am I’m prioritising what REALLY matters today.
So, stop and think as you’re absentmindedly squeezing your toothpaste onto your toothbrush with both hands without a thought…. Don’t be like me last year, assume we will always have tomorrow, that can all change in the blink of an eye.
So, if you’ve been meaning to start a project, or visit that show, or…. [FILL IN THE GAP] …. Take some action, and make a start today!
If wax painting has been on your list of things to get around to, you can check out some ways of doing that here too.
Stay safe, and look after yourselves, and if you have a similar wake-up call story, I’d love to hear about it.
PS. By the way, if you have a scar that’s causing pain, I totally recommend Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Balm*, it really helped to sooth the discomfort for me.
PPS. I’m aware not everybody wants to open a blog containing wincy images of wounds, but, if you’re the sort who likes to see what happened, there is a private blog here containing some photos I took at the time. They’re not that grizzly, but they’re not great either, click through at your own choice!