Monday 10th December 7.30. I go and teach a Hatha yoga class in my studio at the end of my garden, all is well. I feel happy and balanced; it’s the best I've felt in a while now after a holiday away, rest has done me so much good. I teach a class of 10 wonderful students, some have practised with me for many years. I love what I do. I give generously as it ’s the only way I can teach. I come back into the house at 9.15 to sit down and by 9.45 I’m falling asleep on the sofa – this happens most nights. Little do I know what's going to happen 30 minutes from now... I'm often talking about this when I teach, how we have no idea what is going to happen next. How life can change in a moment? The truth is that we simply don’t know.
I wake up on the sofa, It’s time for bed I must take our puppy out for a pee in the garden. I’m still half asleep when I open the french doors, my right foot gets caught on the door frame and I'm pulled out through the doors by the dog on his lead. My foot stays in the kitchen, I fall outside on my knee, twisting and smashing my ankle against the door. My right shoulder hits something hard and my head hits the concrete. I experience it so fast and yet in slow motion at the same time. My ankle is in excruciating pain immediately. I know I’ve broken my ankle, as primal yelling and moaning sounds come out of my mouth. However, I’ve not heard these sounds before. I’m begging my husband to call 999 while he covers me with a coat, my head on a cushion. I wait helplessly on the cold concrete outside. Not knowing, I wait here 60 more minutes before the Paramedics arrive as there is no ambulance available. While waiting, I feel frail and very helpless. I shake with the pain – it was a frightening experience.
I consciously try to breathe deeply in order to help the pain. I try to surrender as much as I can to the present moment but it feels like my ankle is exploding into my boot. It was so hard to try and stay present; in fact, it was nearly impossible. Nonetheless, I kept trying.
I’ve read a lot about how being in the past is a place that can contribute to much regret and even feelings of depression. For sure I was regretting not paying enough attention about how I came out of the door when I was still half asleep. “Be present” I remind myself. The future can be a place full of anxiety, yep I’m anxious alright… How long am I going to be here? What if the pain gets worse? What if no one comes? Will I go into shock? The voice in my head once again comes along: “Viv be present, don’t go to the future, be here now”
The cavalry arrives in the form of Paramedics. Yes, someone came to help me at last! They find it difficult to get me inside as I’m in an awkward position. They cut off my favourite boots and confirm that my ankle’s broken and I’ve made a good job of it! My eyes can’t believe what I see, It looks bad! My head is spinning from the Gas & Air as they try their best to straighten my leg and put it in a splint. We wait now, taking a breath. The puppy is so scared about what's happening to me that he’s put in the other room to help him keep calm.
The ambulance arrives 30 minutes later, and the total waiting time is now 90 mins. About 2 hours after I fell, I’m in the ambulance at last, the morphine is given for the pain as the journey is bumpy. I tell them how helpless and scared I felt with the long wait. I let them know that it felt like no one cared and they’re very sorry, although it’s not their fault.
Wow, what is happening? I’m feeling spaced-out and disoriented. I was teaching a yoga class just a while ago, now I’m in an ambulance for the first time. I didn’t do anything reckless. Inside the doors close and I realise the puppy has to be left alone now and also that I’m not going to able to teach. I’m upset and I become tearful. Oh no, what’s going to happen now… That voice again “Viv stay present”. The ambulance ladies tell me to stop worrying about the puppy and stop worrying about letting my students down. “You must think of yourself now”. “You’re safe now, just relax back”. I let go and surrender my weight into the stretcher.
Earlier whilst on the floor waiting, I thought this could have had a devastating effect on someone elderly, frail or someone not in good health. How is this right? What sort of world is this where our Governments put money into weapons and war and send people to the moon and yet you can't get an ambulance right when it is really needed? I’m glad I’m strong – it could have been so different if I wasn’t.
We arrive at A & E at 12.15, 2 hours after the fall, and there’s lots more waiting. X-rays blood tests etc. are done and I have a displaced fracture that will need pulling back into place and I’m told possible surgery. My head is in a spin again; I didn’t jump off a cliff I stepped off my kitchen step. Okay, so it was an accident, and some say that accidents happen for a reason. I’m not sure of this but I certainly try and learn from all life’s experiences. I take Yogi the puppy outside for his last pee on the lead like this every night. I'm normally ready to be slightly yanked out of the door, why am I not paying attention tonight? Why now do I fall? I was very tired, perhaps that's it. More care and more presence was needed maybe. I have been forced to surrender now. Choice is taken from me. Lots is being learned already from this in just a week, particularly how difficult I find it at times not to be in control. I am very independent I can normally do most things, now I have to ask for help and I’m finding that difficult; it’s all very frustrating, patience is needed. I also understand on a small level from this experience how hard life must be for those who have a permanent disability and those who are very old and can’t be independent anymore. We must reach out and help those around us in need so no one feels helpless and alone.
I am normally running around here and there, walking miles with the puppy in the woods and parks. Turning upside down and inside out. Now I seem to happily mould effortlessly to the shape of the sofa. I have to inject my tummy daily with a blood thinning medication as I'm at risk of DVT because of how still I will be. I sit with the leg up higher than the heart, dreading the moment I need to get up as its so painful and difficult to walk with crutches using only one leg. Only hours before, I'm teaching a yoga class, and I’m finding it all rather difficult to take in.
I keep reminding myself that this is impermanent like a lot of things in life, and it will pass. This makes me happy and melts my heart a little. For some though, it doesn’t pass and they continually struggle; this makes me sad. Buddhist philosophy talks of happiness & sadness, gain & loss how they come and go like the wind… I hope there is a strong wind to blow all of this away soon!
I do have a sense of knowing that this experience will reveal many things to me. I am reminded of the quote below. I love quotes; they are deep and often very enlightening. At times of difficulty and darkness, there is often a doorway that opens to a different path. We must remain open in mind and heart to see this.
“There is something good in all seeming failures. You are not to see that right now. Time will reveal it. Be patient” - Swami Sivananda
For now, I surrender and wait for time to do some revealing.