A life-changing accident

I was dragged screaming from the car. No- one realised that the reason I couldn’t lift my leg to get out was because I’d broken my hip.

Once inside the hospital the next ordeal was the battle to save my clothes. Cut off the expensive trousers l’d only been able to afford because they were in a sale? No, no, no… Cut off the top given me by a friend who only gave expensive extravagant beautiful presents? Again no. My newest bra? At this my love exploded,” I’ll buy you fifty bras, to replace it”… the bra went.

After the X-rays, came the two-and-a-half- hour drive in an ambulance over winding country roads which seemed to be pitted with railway level crossings every half mile. Thank heavens for morphine.

In the orthopedic ward, there were five other women – three other feisty intelligent women with a wicked sense of humour. Another was so ill that her three daughters kept a vigil by her bed – three graces – elegant women with long legs, wonderful clothes and an active sense of humour. They wore clothes to gladden the eye – a skirt made of pleats from every shade of red, pink and orange to yellow, a long red sixties dress… The daughter who kept the night vigil made us tea in the night and pulled up our blankets to cover us when we fell asleep. The sixth woman was a gentle sweet soul who was too vague and forgetful to look after herself, and brought us all together in our efforts to protect her.

 In the bed opposite me lay Jane, a kindred spirit, and one who had risen above the tragedy of her terribly handicapped daughter and helped to revolutionise the care of disabled people, including organising a nappy service, taxi services, and getting the law changed in recording the very existence of such children. In the far corner was an older Maori woman typical of so many older women of her race – full of life and fun and stroppiness and dignity, while in the other corner was a quiet, witty and intelligent English woman.

The nurses were gentle, kind, mainly Filipino and Indian girls, while the two male nurses were a gift. One, a tall American engineer, had changed course in mid career and put himself in the power of bossy female charge nurses. His dry sense of humour and calm competence and compassion brought serenity into the ward every time he appeared, while the other young man with the bluest eyes , was intelligent, capable and fun.

“Is there any word in the English language you don’t know?” he asked me after a couple of days. He then instituted a game in which we both presented each other with an arcane word every day which we had to recognise and spell.

When we had all had our operations and split up to go to other hospitals, the Maori woman stood in the doorway surrounded by her daughter and grandchildren and sang a Maori farewell. I replied by singing ‘Auld lang syne’ and everyone in the ward joined in, a beautiful swelling chorus of male and female voices. When we said goodbye to the three graces the eldest said she had always thought hospitals were sad places, but she’d never laughed so much in her life.

Jane, who had had the same operation, and I, repeated the purgatory of the ambulance ride back to our local hospital, but this time it was a journey filled with laughter, as our ambulance driver took on the persona of an airline pilot, and conducted the whole journey as a send-up of a plane flight.

Back at the hospital, Jane and I shared a room decorated in soft celadon green with heavy expensive matching curtains and our own bathroom. There was a legend, that on the door of our room was a notice saying ‘Do not mess with these women’, and our days filled with laughter continued.

When we were able to totter around on walkers, I found that every ward looked out onto flower gardens. Every day I sat in a bower where hundreds of gardenias scented the air, a blue jacaranda tree flowered overhead and birds sang in the sunshine.

The delicious food, we discovered, was cooked by the chef from the local restaurant in town that was a by-word for good food. Each day we ticked our choices off on a form, and the second day  I decided to buck the system. Where it listed sweetener for the porridge I wrote ‘Lots of brown sugar’. To my surprise, lots of brown sugar arrived, so the next day I pushed my luck even further. Where the list said margarine, I wrote ‘lots of butter’. These treats arrived for several days and then the Food Police pounced. ‘Please consult your dietician and health professionals about your diet.’

I groaned and gave up, knowing the days of brown sugar were over. But lo, the next morning porridge and brown sugar arrived for me. I never discovered who had noticed and intervened and sneaked in the magic words on my order, but what a joy to know someone cared! After a week at this happy little hospital, I returned home armed with enough medication and rehabilitation equipment to equip another ward, and settled back, to be visited by teams of helpers, physios and nurses.

While the rest of the world struggles with Covid, all I have to cope with is a broken hip, and the experience was truly life-enhancing. If having an accident was bad timing just before Christmas, the silver lining was the amazing experience of being with so many beautiful people.

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.


Filed under happiness, humour, kindness intelligence, Uncategorized

32 responses to “A life-changing accident

  1. I’m so glad you recovered so well. Everyone should have such a positive experience in a hospital.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only you could make this sound like a wondrous experience. ❤


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE this post! As Janet remarked above – only you could make this sound like a wonderful experience! You reminded me of this quote by Viktor Frankl “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

    You just made my day, Valerie. I will carry this post into a new week of possibilities! Many hugs and lots of love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Rebecca, thank you, -so good to see your smiling face… love the Viktor Frankl quote – such an antidote to the victim culture – and so inspiring
      As a teenager, I used to love those famous words ‘I am the master of my fate etc”.
      I loved your last sentence, and a ‘ new week of possibilities”,
      Much love, Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

  4. David

    Wot! No threadbare gourmet recipe?
    Seriously, rest up and get well.
    David W
    Slim School


  5. Angela Ogden

    Heavens…..well that was one of those bolts that you don’t see coming! So glad that you’re on the mend & only you could be making us all smile & appreciate such an ‘interesting’ few weeks. Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Angela, good to hear from you – yes, it was rather a bolt ! I was wearing some slip- on leather shoes when they slipped,
      walking up the garden steps to prune the roses, secateurs in one hand, and a a flower pot in the other. Suddenly I was prone on the concrete steps… que sera sera..
      Happy New year to you, with love Valerie


  6. Oh Valerie, what a shocking experience (a car accident?) and what an enlivening one as well. Laughter is a great healer and I am impressed with what a great story you have made out of this. I chuckled away and feel less negative about hospital after hearing your experience. Enjoy your 50 new bras!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Juliet,
    So Good to hear from you.
    No. not a car accident – much more prosaic.
    I was wearing a pair of slip on leather shes, as I walked up the garden steps to prune the roses – secateurs in one hand, flower pot in the other.
    Suddenly my numb foot in the treacherous slippery slip-ons must have slipped – the next thing I was prone on the ground.
    Stupidly, I didn’t call an ambulance and put myself through the agony of a very lng hour and a half car ride with no pain killers… we live and learn. !!!
    Hope all is well in your world,…
    Love Valerie


    • Valerie, what a lesson for us all. I will watch out for treacherous slip-on shoes. How fortunate that the secateurs didn’t do any further damage. I wish you good healing, and no more adventures like that one for a while.


  8. Jane Sturgeon

    Valerie, asking for healing energy for you. ❤️ What an experience and I love how you view it and the uplifting connections created. Wrapping you in much love, always. You are a bright light. ❤️🌹❤️


  9. I’m sorry to hear about your injury. I had noticed your absence from your blog for a while and I was hoping that all was well, so it was lovely to see your post arrive this morning. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    Your hospital experience sounds a lot better than many. I think all hospitals should have gardens and good food. I’m sure that being able to see nature and greenery would benefit many people who have to go into hospital.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So good to hear from you, and so very encouraging to know that you had thought of me during my blogging absence !
      Yes, I felt our experience of our health service was really special, and I so agree that good food and lovely gardens are definitely part of the healing process … and all too often they are missing…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Valerie,

    I was so sorry to hear about your injury. I agree with Janet…only you could make it sound like an adventure. At any rate I’m delighted to read that you’re on the mend.
    Sending love and caring from the middle of the US to you and himself.



    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are such a positive, sunny, marvelous soul. I am sorry about your horrendous accident! Still, your joyful personality shines forth to lead us onward to be better people.
    May you heal swiftly!

    Love YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just had one of those too- a real car accident- see my last post! Yes, they certainly change our lives don’t they? And all we can do is surrender.
    Your hospital experience sounds amazing, combined with fabulous care & medical treatment- I am luckily recuperating at home, but one’s attitude is very important, for those around us as well as ourselves. 🙏🏼
    Keep healing, & do your physio exercises EVERY day! Blessings for your healing journey, G


  13. Valerie, so very sorry to read of your broken hip but how inspirational that you found so much kindness, goodness and humour in the aftermath. Sending you healing hugs. Ele.


  14. Dear Ele, so good to hear from you,
    Thank you for your message, and yes, it was wonderful to experience so much goodness, kindness and laughter… I’m sure it helped to heal …
    Very best wishes to you for a fulfilling and happy new year, from Valerie


  15. I’m glad you had such a positive experience and that you’ve recovered well Valerie. Beautifully described!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Greetings Andrea, so good to hear from you, and apologies for my tardy reply- life seems hectic with physios and nurses, and coping with the aftermath… and I’m so slow at the moment ! I think you’re coping with cold and snow and fierce winter weather, aren’t you… hope you’re keeping warm.
    Thank you for your lovely words


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  18. Wow, what a great hospital experience you had, Valerie, and very vividly portrayed too. I haven’t been for a visit here lately, so I hope you are keeping well (apart from the hip rehabilitation) and happy where you are. Rural living is a gift during these times and I am all too aware of that where I am. I have a half written short story about a hospital stay years ago which was the opposite of yours and I got stuck deciding how the protagonist was going to escape!


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