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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Surviving the shark attack

There I was just happily going about the everyday business of life. Rushing here. Rushing there. Cramming it all in. Busy, busy , busy. Then an unseen force grabbed me with the ferocity of a shark and in a split second, or thats what it felt like, I had gone, pulled beneath the water and everything just stopped. Silence.

Later on, after I bobbed back up to the surface a few times, wounded, battered and bruised it was clear to me that something was very different inside, missing even , but what was it, what had changed?

Its oh so tricky to explain the feelings of the changes that have occurred to my pre pop self, and now that I am 'looking so well' , 'why thank you very much' , it has become even harder to voice that I'm not yet back to my normal self and that it's probable that a new normal is my destination, and it's a journey I'm still travelling. That said that I have a chance to get to a new place is still something I'm eternally grateful for.

To use a computer analogy it was a little like my hard drive got wiped and although I've managed to do the back up pretty comprehensively ,albeit gradually , I do think that some of my functions have got a little bit corrupted and don't do quite what they allowed me to do before, certainly not in the way they previously did. I have friends who are very skilled at cobalt and Unix so maybe they could just write me a little programme to correct the coding errors that have crept in.

Some days I can just do stuff and I'm like 'hooray' and then I speed up a little and then WHAM, I get stopped in my tracks, or more commonly it just feels like someone has put a speed restriction on me so that i walk a bit slower or some of the words get nicked out of my brain just before I was going to use them. Or I need to sleep. Immediately. CTR ALT DELETE. RESTART. Sleep is often the answer and after a quick doze I switch back on and ready to go again.

I've had to practise doing things that I took for granted, to remind my brain of things we used to do well together but I have been very fortunate that My brain is allowing me to do that. Ive adopted an approach of super gradual re-introduction to most things and been kind with myself ( most days) and not expected to be able do everything at the levels and speeds I once did, well not straight away. My optimism remains mostly intact and I can hope that I will get there with most things and I have been delighted every time I have been able to bring something back that was lost to me for a while, especially the small stuff.

I have reclaimed threading a needle, walking the dog, standing on one leg, actually my list of accomplishments to date is nice and long considering how deeply I was submerged and the ferocity of the attack so I do remember do pat myself on the back occasionally.

My inspiration to push on and take the knock-backs has been taken from people who have been my constant supporters through this entire process.All of them have been knocked off their life course when they least expected it and knew what that felt like and just counselled that it always takes time to heal and adapt.Im sure that they didn't know how they were going to get through the next days, weeks , months but they did and they are using that strength and knowledge to help me.

In fact when I take a look around every single person who has reached out to me, sharing the love, have been dragged under by a shark at some point in their lives. And they all got back in the water and carried on swimming. So that's what I'm trying to do. Follow their awesome lead.

When I think back to people I have loved and lost whom I admired, they too all had great white moments during their lifetimes and they lived to tell the tale. Even those that didn't survive their attack showed such courage and dignity that it would be selfish of me not to get back in the water and swim until frankly all I'm good for is shark bait and I blooming love swimming.

I expect I'll always hear the JAWs music at times. It creeps up on me ...that's the fear coming of the known terror, the real and unseen risk that forever lurks. That fear that will try and stop you doing stuff in case you get hurt again, or it lists out all the 'what ifs' but I have to learn to put the ear plugs on and just paddle on ignoring the music cos there's always a shark or two in the water.

Hey, maybe I should learn to surf whilst I'm at it. Would that make it any safer i wonder? Knowing my luck I'd be the one surfer chick who got mistaken for a seal....still it might make it more fun to ride the waves....right too many analogies .I'm done for now.


  1. Steph, you write so beautifully, I am grateful that you have been able to share with us a glimpse of what you and your family must be going through. As you say life throws these curve balls in to everyones life and it does change us (sometimes for the better I believe). I have had a piece of my 'bad cake' and hope I don't have another slice! You inspire me with your thoughtful writing....... hope you keep it up! a book in the making I think!

  2. Thanks Suzanne. Good luck for your run on Sunday for such an amazing cause. I will be thinking of you and hope the energy gels work their magic at the 23 mile mark.