Six years ago to the day Sally and I were spending Christmas Eve in Queen Charlotte’s maternity hospital. Close to 2 months after being born Rhys was still in the special care unit of the hospital.
We’d hoped he’d be home by Christmas but it wasn’t to be. Though in many ways it would appear that it wasn’t a great Christmas I realised afterwards that in some ways it was almost a privilege. That’s not because lavish gifts were being exchanged in the hospital – more that the adversity of the situation that many families were in was galvanising.
The hospital staff made so much effort to be cheerful and make Christmas day different there was a very special atmosphere on the unit. It felt like you were being given the chance to share in a purer form of goodwill than you would ever normally experience. And as the decorations were cleared away in early January Rhys was well enough to come home.
Another 4 years to the day we were back in the same hospital welcoming Owen to the world on Christmas Eve. Though he was a few weeks early it was a lot more straight forward.
Fast forward a bit to the decorations being cleared away at the start of 2012 and my head was quickly filling with trying to work out how we’d pick our way through this year.
There seemed to be an implausible number of things that had to fall into place for Rhys to have his implant and SDR surgery and recover from both within the year. It still bends my mind that within weeks of a surgeon drilling through his skull to insert his cochlear implant he was back in theatre having nerves irreversibly cut in his spine.
If you added in the possible risks associated with the surgeries I came to thinking that if we got to Christmas this year and we were all just alright, and nothing had gone wrong, then that in itself would be worth celebrating.
And if we were to get to this Christmas and all the surgeries had been successful – well, I’d have taken that in a heart beat. So I have to keep reminding myself that that is what has happened. It feels like we’re ending the year in a pretty good place.
Whilst we’ve been the ones stood in the middle of all of this, it’s pretty clear to me that we didn’t do it on our own. It’s not possible to list the names of everyone that has contributed to this happening. There’s just too many doctors, nurses, therapists, co-ordinators, teachers, family members and friends that have helped along the way to get Rhys to where he is.
As I’ve said on here before, no amount of progress is too much and Rhys’ recovery is an ongoing process. For example, weaning Rhys out of his splints is going to take more time and Rhys and he still takes a fair few tumbles. That’s all balanced off though by Rhys doing his 25m swimming badge last week and having moments where he surprises me with his ability. Here he is walking down a few steps at his school unaided.
If you’ve read any other pages of this blog you’ll know I like a quote and whilst sport can often provide memorable ones, politics is a rich seam as well.
Here’s a quote that’s often attributed to one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela. Whether he did or didn’t say it in his early speeches as South Africa’s President doesn’t matter too much. It’s a good line regardless. The sentiment of it makes me think about Rhys, his place in the world and the way that his progress might impact on others. Here it is.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s to a good new year as well.