You’ll probably already know if you read this blog that I haven’t had much ‘luck’ with my feet in recent times (my left foot, in particular). While on a wonderful adventure gallivanting around Thailand with my wonderful best friend from London I twice hurt myself, badly, leaving me now with my foot in a cast and having put me out of physical activity for the large part for almost two months.
These injuries have very been frustrating at times. Of course there was the physical pain, especially from my motorbike fall which left a deep cut in my foot (and knee) that took weeks to heal (I’m pretty sure I should have been given stitches but wasn’t; and chose to care for it myself rather than accept antibiotics and return to the hospital each day for the dressing to be changed – £20 a pop!). Then came a fractured foot, which I walked on for a week, in denial about the severity of the injury before getting it checked out. But beyond the pain, the hardest thing to bare has been the frustration stemming from feeling incapacitated, dependent on others, and at times pretty lonely and isolated.
But, as a firm believer (now) in counting one’s blessings and taking every moment in life as an opportunity to learn, and to heal (emotionally, mentally, spiritually – and physically), I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learnt from my recent falls.
1. Don’t drink and drive / go down the stairs in the dark
Or, just don’t drink too much. Yes, I’m very much into healing, but I haven’t completely left my party days behind me. And although the balance has tipped towards yoga and quiet nights in recently, as any of my good friends will know, when I do go out, I go hard. Alcohol clouds the mind and, as an advert once shockingly portrayed, can make you feel like you are invincible. Well, I’m not. And the Universe decided to remind me of that. Twice.
When your body is in physical pain, or your immune system run down, it’s a sign from the Heavens / the Universe / yourSelf that you need to stop. Stop what you’re doing and think about what is happening. And take care. Luckily I have listened to this instruction (or at least I did the second time around!) and have put all kinds of travelling plans on hold to simply be in one place, rest, and look after myself.
As a side note, I appreciate that this is a very hard thing to do when working full-time in a company (or for yourself for that matter), so I am very grateful to have been ‘able’ to give myself the time I need to properly heal. One of the things I find so unkind really about contractual employment in the UK (and I’m sure elsewhere) is the lack of empathy and support given when employees are unwell (or unfit, in any sense of the word). It seems to require literally being on one’s death bed in order to take more than a day off work these days without eyebrows being raised and your reputation being sullied. Perhaps if more people put their own health and wellbeing (including mental and emotional) over their duty to their employers, we could shift this rather fascist attitude? Just food for thought…
3. You are stronger than you think
What this experience has really shown me is that, first of all, I can look after myself pretty well. And that second, I am pretty resilient. I’m not claiming martyrdom here; I know there are far worse things to be suffering from in life. But this experience has shown me the resilience of the human spirit. I spent two weeks alone in a rather unwelcoming and very basic room, only leaving my four (windowless) walls for a few hours a day to hobble on my crutches the furthest distance I could – to a very lovely cafe a few streets away. This to and fro-ing however soon became a rather lovely daily ritual. Because even though it was physically very challenging, I quite enjoyed the aches and pains I felt in my shoulders and arms, and was impressed with the strength I began slowly to build in these before-rather-weak areas. I felt that mastering this short but arduous journey each day (and turning down the dozens of tuk-tuk drivers’ offer of a ride in between) was quite an accomplishment!
I have also managed to continue with my yoga practice, which had been one of the first worries that sprung to my mind when the doctor informed me I needed a cast. Very slowly and gently I got back on my mat and have thoroughly enjoyed some seated, meditative, (almost) daily self-practice, which has given me the inner strength I’ve needed to keep my mind positive and my body strong.
4. Accepting help
This was a tough one. I’ve never much been good at asking for help, apart from maybe from my Mum – and although I did call her from the hospital in floods of tears, there was really little she could do from the other side of the world except lend a sympathetic ear (and some cash to pay the medical bill).
At first I determined to bare this fate on my own and resided myself to those four walls for the following three weeks which the doctor had told me I’d be confined in the cast. (I could not possibly carry my large backback stuffed with four months of travelling clothes and treasures – including some actual rocks – on my own.)
But one evening, on the first and rare occasion I decided to sit out in the hostel dining area to be ‘sociable’ I met the most lovely girls who were watching some awful chick-flick on the TV. I had sort of forgotten how nice it was just to be around other people and so decided to join them for a beer. Then along came three Singaporean guys travelling together on a short trip around South-East Asia. As we commenced the usual traveller chat of ‘where have you been, where are you going?’ etc it emerged that they were leaving for Koh Chang the next day, an island in Thailand about a day’s travelling time away from Siem Reap, where we were. I, without thinking, exclaimed, ‘Oh I would love to be back in Thailand. But I’m stuck here until my foot heals – can’t carry my bags.’ And then one of the guys almost immediately replied: ‘We can carry your bags – no problem!‘
It was such a relief to have an escape plan out of that dull, soulless hostel, and to be able to get one step closer to my next destination: Bangkok airport and onto Los Angeles, from where I’ll be heading to Burning Man festival (!!!) on 21st August. I was grateful both for their extremely genuine, no-strings-attached and enthusiastic offer to help, and help they did – carrying my 20kg bag for me in the midday sun for two hours across the Cambodia-Thai border – and to myself, for being able to accept this kind offer, which is something as I said I typically find hard to do.
5. Always be grateful, and always have faith
This experience has given me an incredible feeling of gratitude for all that I have and all that I can do, and an increased faith in myself, in my path in life, and in the Universe, which continues to guide me to the right places. As the lessons above attest to, this all happened for a reason. And I will be stronger for it.
Not only that but my time has been put to very good use: I have written a lot (!) – on this blog, in my journal, and I’ve even been published on a number of other online publications – Yoga Clicks, Spa Finder, and an upcoming post on Elephant Journal, which is very exciting! I’ve also had the time to reconnect with friends, to read, and to plan my next adventures, which all seem to be falling very nicely into place.
But the biggest blessing of all is that I am alive, still smiling, and despite these trials and tribulations, can genuinely say this is the happiest I have ever been.
Now, if someone could just please send a little sunshine my way (it’s rainy season in Thailand and I haven’t seen the sun in weeks!) my life will be complete. ;)