Where to start?! A recovery checklist

There is a moment in the pilot of that show where Jack, the commanding and brilliant surgeon’s 747 flight crash lands on an uninhabited island. The many survivors are in chaos. He tends to the wounded and tries to make sense of the madness. Every inch the hero. Amidst the furore he sequesters himself into the bushes. He too is injured! He has taken a sizeable piece of airplane fuselage to the gut and requires stitches. He has a needle and thread but cannot reach the area to sow it up. He needs help. In steps Kate, the brilliant and cunning enigma. She is confident and has something to hide but she is no surgeon. In this moment she wants to help but she has never done anything like this and is so scared of doing something wrong that she can’t do it at all. She is paralysed by her own brain, her fear. As we all are at some point, most often before stepping into an ice bath!

Seeing this Jack tells her a story about his own fear. About his first spinal surgery, where during the operation he accidentally cut a crucial sack in the patients back that would soon kill them if not fixed. He tells her how he was overcome with fear, paralysed by it. Then he tells her how he gave himself five seconds. He said to himself; “you can be scared, terrified, for five seconds”. After those five seconds are up you are going to stitch this sack up, save the patient’s life and finish the surgery. And that’s what he did. Roused by the speech Kate does the same.

That is the story that came to me. That is what roused me to action. Our bodies have our survival at their core. If you face fear and choose to step forwards incredible things can happen.

For me Jack spoke to Kate. Except it wasn’t Kate it was me and I was Jack too. I had seen someone else look at the impossible and do it! I had seen someone step past fear and save a life. Even before I had heard about Wim Hof and the Wim Hof Method that espouses this and proves it through science, I knew in that moment it was possible. Kate sewed him up and he ultimately led the survivors through 5 confusing seasons of partly seminal TV.

I think it was the complete lack of options that made adopting “Lost” such a clear choice for me in that moment. I gave myself 5 seconds, I cried, then I stopped and took my first step. I reached up, held my eyelid shut and showered.

That shower cleaned more than just my skin. I made my way back to the ward anew. I knew then that was my 5 seconds over, my crying was done. I had given it its time and now there was action to take. I had things to do. I had sewn myself up and was ready for episode 2… with John Locke and his big bag of knives…(if you haven’t seen it already I’d recommend the first three seasons of lost!).

The mind is a crazy thing. I had my conviction, forged in fire. I was in the present, taking one step at a time. Now I just had to keep taking those steps.

But what were those steps? What could I do when nothing was known, and everything was possible? As we touched on earlier, I did the next thing I couldn’t do. It seemed obvious to me. If you cannot move, you try to move your toe. Once you can move your toe you try and move your foot, once you can move your foot you try and move your leg. Once you can do that you try to sit up, then you try to stand, then walk, then run. Once you get to the point of running being sure to remember to learn how to stop first, (Something I forgot, with hilarious results).

Every day I did whatever was at the limit of my ability until I could do it. Then I had a new limit and did the next thing. Once I went down that road for years I had to factor in mental as well as physical obstacles, such as fatigue, rest, and slower recovery but for now I was off.

Not much has changed since then. I keep doing the thing I cannot do until I can do it. I now also factor in what I want into that equation. For example, I’m pretty sure I cannot jump from the high dive and do a perfect double tuck but that is barely useful in my everyday life as a writer, so I let it slide. You will have your own hierarchy of importance. Perhaps it’s pick up your child? Or walk around the block? Or simply do two things in a day as was my goal for the first couple of years. My goal now is still the same and it’s a bloody good one, “Be the healthiest and happiest I have ever been”. I have grown a lot since I set it and it means something different to me as each day passes, as new things fold in and out of it, but it doesn’t matter because I am only focused on today and I am only doing what I can’t do today. One step at a time. Once I started doing things, doing them became the purpose. The cataloguing a recovery and measuring my progress faded away into insignificance. I’d conditioned myself, quite by accident, to follow an ancient teaching I’d never been able to consciously adopt; “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Each day, each step was good enough. Fun even! And If I didn’t do it that day it didn’t matter because my goal was to try and do it and I had done just that. There would be time to try again tomorrow.


Learn how to master your health, happiness, and strength through the scientifically proven Wim Hof Method at our next workshop.  Details and tickets here: https://www.cotswoldbreathandbody.com

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