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In sharing my story, I hope to open a window not only into life as an amputee but a metaphorical observation point from which one can reflect on the most precious things in life, those irreplaceable treasures which are of most value. A window that loses clarity over time in the bustle of our busy lives, clouded over by day-to-day negative media influences, frosted from poor and rash choices, missed opportunity and ill-chosen priorities.
I hope the reader can feel a sense of the deep passion written in-between these lines and perhaps consider a little fine-tuning to their journey through life or be motivated to force changes to avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve encountered. I hope the reader can feel a sense of the deep passion written in-between these lines and perhaps consider a little fine-tuning to their journey through life or be motivated to force changes to avoid some of the pitfalls I have found.
At times, life seems to be accelerating at breakneck speed towards its conclusion to what one can take for granted will be a guaranteed fulfilled, prosperous and healthy old age?
My meanderings may provide an insight into the experiences, poor judgement, wild choices and how fate itself can play its ugly hand with quite tumultuous consequences. Please read on…
Like many thirty-forty somethings who’ve worked hard to reach their dreams, I became belligerently comfortable in suburbia, boasting a successful business, two cars on the drive, two amazing children etc. Yet clinging onto a failing marriage loosely pinned together by wine, false pretence and material assets alone.
Needless to say, the relationship failed. Separate houses, dis-harmony, pain and turmoil ensued. I needn’t dwell on history, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks for yourselves and no doubt recounting your own dealings with the darker side of life. Here begins the nefarious fall from prosperity, health, and embarking on the biggest adventure of my life. Survival.
Inadvertently, I took my eye off the ball and entered into an ever-decreasing spiral of self-pity, anxiety, depression and despair following the demise of my relationship, followed by a painful separation, split households at a critical time in the lives of my children’s development. To this day, remains a deep scar on all our lives I can’t deny and still weighs heavy on my mind.
As the dust settled, I received the Doctor’s unwelcome news I was Diabetic type two, at the tender age of thirty-seven. Little did I realise at that time, I had entered into a dark contract; I’d gambled everything in a head to head showdown with a much-underestimated adversary ‘Diabetes type II’.
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My arrogant, naive attitude towards diabetes and its full destructive potential, especially if nurtured with a poor diet, excess alcohol and ‘head-in-the-sand’ elective ignorance. I couldn’t see how my actions were damaging the things which mattered the most to me. The stress, trauma and turmoil silently suffered by the people most dear to me who’d become mere pawns in my masterclass of selfishness and stupidity.
“Who was I to selfishly stake the life of my ‘Children’s Father’ in a bet with ‘The Almighty Turf-Accountant’? How could I ignore this disease and carry on living like a 25-year-old?… perpetually dodging wise friends words of advice, disregarding medical experts warnings and then expecting to escape without a scratch?
Like Steve McQueen leaping the fence out of his Nazi P.O.W. Camp, ‘tear-arsing’ on his motorcycle toward the promised dreams of a blissful tinsel-clad paradise back in good ol’ Blighty? I felt ‘Bullet-proof’ to the dangers surrounding me. (For those old enough to remember ‘The Great Escape’, It didn’t end well for McQueen either!)
I did not then and still don’t have now, the right to place such a high-stakes wager against such insurmountable odds, whilst using my mortality as hard collateral security.
Surprisingly enough, I lost the bet and not only did it cost me my legs in the negotiations with ‘The Grim-Reaper’ but also the near loss of my health, wealth and sanity. Furthermore, I sustained countless operations, discomfort, lost my dignity and felt excruciating pain as I’d never known possible. Plus the loss of my home, my possessions, even the clothes from my back.
Perhaps the greatest loss was the close bond I had forged over the early years with my sons. I should have been ever-present in their daily lives for them both for they both needed me and to protect them as their Superman. They needed their Dad as they discovered their way in such an unknown world. It’s the lost time with My Boys which hurts the most. I’ll never understand how deeply the near-death of their father has affected them, I guess, nor do they?
However, I had been gifted a divine reprieve. A second chance to reflect on my losses and to process an improbable vague future as a disabled old man at 50. A world governed by medication, isolation, treatments, prosthetics and infinite impossible obstacles. I was in my darkest hour.
I have been ‘Tea-Total’ now for over five years I’ve worked hard, studied and with the support of my wife, (That’s another story) has brought with it a crystalline clarity of thought. An ongoing self-analysis and re-education in the arts, philosophy, history and science, has taught me many lessons, or as some might say has given me a lucky “Baptism of fire”.
It appears, my unlikely return from the darkest time of my life; my close call meeting my maker had beaten some newfound wisdom into my being. Sat here writing this blog feeling contented, healthy mobile and with my lovely wife at my side, contemplating the next holiday or round of golf, I’m still here and remain optimistic, positive and thankful albeit, with a new perspective of the world around me both present and future.
If my ramblings make any sense to you, listen up, wise up and buckle up, you usually only get one chance at life, so get it right the first time!
The account of my experiences herein is not to seek pity, far from it… I feel I want to offer something back to the countless people who shared their love, tears, hope and encouragement on my rehabilitation and the subsequent journey back to good health in both mind and body. My message is this… Despite whatever comes your way, there is hope. You are the master of your destiny and with luck, you can play what seems to be a foul hand of cards, the best way possible. Don’t make the impossible gamble.
My friends, I am eternally in your debt for the love and support you gave me in my darkest hour. You gave me the strength to return from the brink, a rare second chance at the poker table of life, a luxury denied to the many, yet squandered by more than a few. I thank you from the depths of my soul, I declare myself out of the gaming tables of chance and into the best game ever. Life
Thanks for reading
Neil Francis Davies