“Yesterday, in my 4th operation, the surgeon put a chisel through my tibia. I can conclusively assert that the first cut is not the deepest.”
Me, affecting bravado on Twitter
Two years ago from more or less the time at which I post this, I was dangling by my left arm. Not nonchalantly, no, more in blind panic – very literally clinging on for dear life. My right hand, to be fair, was doing its best to get me latched back onto the rock, whilst my feet scrabbled for purchase on the overhang. Below, a good 5 metres of gravity beckoned me towards an uncomfortable reckoning.
My left arm did its best – for all that I’m right handed, it suspended me for a remarkable span. I vividly remember the enormous surge of adrenaline; the baffling, committing, all-or-nothing power in my forearm; the tension in my left bicep; the calm voice in my head saying “get your game face on, this is going to hurt”. I hung on my left arm until I stretched the brachial plexus – that’s the nerve cluster that the works it – paralysing it.
Then I fell.
I often wonder how I must have looked, tumbling down the side of the crag. Was my face creased in pain? Terror? Was it blank with grim acceptance? Did I cry out? I remember the the sensation of my skeleton breaking far less clearly than the sound. At what point did unconsciousness drag me from my horror? Was it before or after my helmet was torn from my head? As friction overcame gravity did I gently slide to a halt in unlikely, cinematic grace?
I will never have the answers to much of this, and perhaps that’s for the best. I may never regain feeling in my left arm – now numb between elbow and shoulder – or across my left shoulder or down my spine. I am very happy to be here, though. Deeply so. And I am genuinely grateful to people and hounds of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team for scraping my bloody ruin off the mountain in such awful conditions. I genuinely owe them my life, just as I do, the staff of Royal Newcastle Victoria Infirmary. Thereafter, Leeds General Infirmary and St. Luke’s Hospital (Bradford) have expended considerable resource on my continuing recovery. Thanks to all of you.
I have much for which to be grateful. I have set aside today to ponder that, not with solemnity but with quiet and intense joy. And with a ridiculous navy strength gin. I don’t normally drink in the week or this early in the day, but I feel I’ve earned this. Cheers.