What I learned in May from breaking 7 bones

May 1 was a normal Saturday… I was horse riding with my daughters late in the afternoon when things went horribly wrong. The horse took off, did a few crazy swerves and I fell, landing heavily on my left shoulder. Lying awkwardly on the ground, I tried to assess whether I was just badly winded, or whether the injuries were much more than that. 

Turns out the latter was the case, and an ambulance took me to Dandenong Hospital Emergency Department, and then a couple of days in ICU before a transfer to Berwick for surgery on my shoulder.

Broken bone count – seven! Collar bone, four broken ribs, fractured pelvis and fractured sacrum. (When I was a kid, my mother always used to say, ‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’!)

While it’s been a painful time, it’s also been a time of reflection and learning. (I’ve also gathered some great stories for my next keynote!)

Here’s the four key things I learned from breaking seven bones:

 

  1. Progress isn’t linear

A couple of steps forward, then a step backward. Like so much else we do, healing is not linear! It’s so easy to feel like you’re not making progress and yet, looking at the main game overall you are moving forward. (As my good friend and mentor, Peter Cook says, ‘You will be frustrated by what you can achieve in a day or a week, and astounded by what you’ve achieved when you look back over a year.’)

 

  1. The importance of gratitude

I’m grateful for my daughters being level-headed, calling the ambulance and looking after me for 45 minutes until it arrived. I’m grateful for the ambos and all of the medical, nursing and support staff in the hospitals where I was treated. Grateful for people who donated blood. Family, friends, clients have sent messages of love and support. Grateful to clients for their flexibility over the past few weeks. I am especially grateful for my husband who has taken on everything at home, and never once lectured me or said ‘I told you so’!

On an environmental level, I am thankful that I live in a country with a fabulous health care system, and that is sufficiently Covid-free so there’s capacity for ‘normal’ healthcare issues.

 

  1. The ability to ask for (and accept) help

 I’ve always been good at offering help. And had less need to ask for it! Over last 2 ½ weeks, I’ve needed to ask for help for almost everything. Thank you – lesson learned!

 

  1. The myth of ‘control’

 We work hard, put measures in place and structures in life to feel like we’re in control, and that we know what’s going to happen next. Maybe not!

 We don’t have the level of certainty that we believe is there, and we need to be open for what may come, ready to flex and respond to events outside the game plan.

 

On the road to recovery

 The doctors tell me it will be six months before I feel “normal” again, and 12 months before my body has fully healed. Yes – I am listening to the advice to slow down and allow the recovery.

 This week I am on ‘light duties’ and from late next week I’m looking forward to getting back progressively into training again.

 

Go fearlessly (and take care!) 

 

PS Many people have asked me, what about the horse? I am sad to say that we are finding a new home for Chief. He’s a beautiful and affectionate young horse, and has come a long way in the year that I have been riding him. And… I need a horse that doesn’t have so much energy and needs a bit less work. In six months or so I will be able to ride again, and I will find an older horse to hang out on the farm with me, and take me trail riding through the bush!

PPS My mother texted me this morning Head your blog with. “Horses are dangerous”. Also include “How an individual’s actions can affect their loved ones”.. So mum – done – included. (And thank you!)