With those wonderful intentions of making someone else’s day, Max and his friend Harrison took off into town – on borrowed bikes – to buy a few things to make Charlie’s birthday special. Descending a hill, then rounding a corner at speed Max had no choice but to enter a narrow footbridge or go into the rocky, swollen river. The bike had no brakes. Max had no helmet. And he was left trying to slow the thing with his feet. The front wheel slipped sideways and he and the bike bounced along the railings of the bridge. His head and shoulder took the worst of it and he was unconscious for perhaps a couple of minutes, amnesic for a couple of hours and definitely sore for a couple of weeks to come. Thankfully he got off lightly, as some people do. The same accumulation of events can lead to more tragic consequences as we know and ‘the luck of the draw’ is not predictable.
As Simon and I spent Saturday night in Accident & Emergency with Max, I was reminded of the analogy that getting cancer is a bit like a plane crash – or even a bike crash – There have to be quite a few things go wrong simultaneously to end up in such a serious situation. There’s a balance to strike with reducing our risks – so when the things beyond our control happen – we might be lucky enough to have the odds still weighing in our favour.
I’m grateful to Fiona for her honest reflections last week on how life has been in the months following her cancer diagnosis. There was an amazing reach around the world with Facebook-sharing everywhere from Australia to Tibet. Thank you for the heartfelt comments from dear friends. When Fiona and I talk, its clear we agree there were a number of things stacking the odds against us before our diagnoses. We didn’t necessarily see them all at the time – or thought we might ‘get away with it’.
Her blog struck a few raw chords in this house with the reminder to make every day count and not leave health to chance. Its obviously easier to do this before the ‘crash’ than after and we both hope you might learn from us – so your own health is not all down to luck.
I don’t want Max to stop riding a bike – I certainly want him to carry on making other people’s day even if that involves a few risks – for what is life, but to be lived? But I know – looking at it from here – that you would rather take a little more care now, than be left picking up the broken pieces.
If the bike Max was riding had had breaks – he probably wouldn’t have crashed.
If the path he was on was not steep and narrow – he probably wouldn’t have crashed.
If he’d been wearing a helmet – even with the crash – he wouldn’t have bashed his head so hard.
It only needed one of these things to be different so that he wasn’t leaving everything to chance.
In the interests of improving immune function (laughter is one of the best medicines) the picture at the bottom is Max on laughing gas while the nurse rubbed gravel out of his ear and scalp. At 15 – this made the whole experience worthwhile !
I have a guest blog this week on www.grays.learning.co.uk which you will find by clicking on this link http://realwomanswords.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/wrestling-with-pandoras-box_3.html
February 6, 2014 at 9:38 am
Oh God! Kids eh! I never had this with DD .she seemed to lead a charmed life..tho now I am awaiting the birth of first G/d – and knowing what she may go through ..my heart is in my mouth!!
As you say, we cannot wrap them in cotton wool..though we’d so like to!!
February 7, 2014 at 8:24 am
We’ve got off lightly with Max but three major incidents with head now! Hoping that’s it.
Granny Hedges hey? Bet you can’t wait 😊
February 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm
Lisa, your story and Max’s story definitely made me think and made me smile. We need to enjoy our families and friends and appreciate them every day. Looking forward to catching up next week. Ruth
February 7, 2014 at 8:18 am
Looking forward to it! Mine’s a decaf, soya wet latte !
February 4, 2014 at 11:19 am
Blimey Lisa – it all goes on in your family doesnt it?! Glad to hear Max is ok and love the laughing gas pic – can we get it on prescription? Sue xx
February 5, 2014 at 9:41 am
Yes – might send you the video – all you can hear is me being mother: ‘that’s enough now’, ‘you’ve had enough’ .. ning ning ning !
February 4, 2014 at 9:27 am
Best wishes to Max for a speedy recovery. What is it about Paley boys and head injuries?! Hope Max is fine soon.
February 5, 2014 at 9:39 am
Didn’t like the idea of ‘rest’ so back at school. Nurse keeping a close eye on him thankfully. Seems ok but a scary few hours as you well know ! xx
February 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm
Yes, I often reflect on how relative the word lucky is…you might be described as one of the ‘lucky’ ones to have survived but actually you were incredibly unlucky to ever have cancer. Something to do with the human spirit I think. Very pleased to hear Max is OK and do let Steve know where that road is when we next visit…so he can avoid it! Xxxx
February 5, 2014 at 9:38 am
Yes, you have to choose to count your blessings if you’re still going to ‘live’ whatever life you have. I’ve just ordered Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ -bet you’ve already read it?
February 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm
Wonderful! PS I hope Max is OK now and maybe has an attractive ‘manly’ scar to lie about when he’s older!
February 5, 2014 at 9:33 am
Couple of gashes in his scalp but I imagine they’ll stay hidden by his hair. Lucky it wasn’t his face 🙂