Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My Supergirl

I know I keep banging on about it, but you really don't know what life has waiting for you just around the corner - so enjoy every day. 

In addition to the natty strap line used now by Liverpool Airport ("Above us only sky"), John Lennon was also responsible for one of my favourite all time quotes:

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans".
 
It is so true - and it's why I do my very best to live in, and enjoy the moment. 
 
Five years ago next week, I packed up my ruck sac and clutching my passport, round the world ticket and hot brush, I set off for a six month solo adventure.
 
I say solo, but I was never by myself for long. I met some amazing people who went out of their way to be kind to me. One person in particular was a girl called Kim - an Australian from Melbourne who I met in a backpackers in Winnipeg, right in the middle of Canada. Our paths only crossed for a couple of days, but we had fun exploring the city together, swapped contact details and stayed in touch.
 
Kimmy.
Before long I was back in  Manchester - but Kim was still travelling, cramming as much as she possibly could into every hour of the day. She sent us massive e-mails recounting her adventures (23 European cities on a 12 day coach tour etc.) and came to stay with me when her itinerary bought her to Manchester.
 
By 2009 she was living and working in London If I remember she was selling sofa's for DfS. 
 
I look back at those two girls, exploring Winnipeg together without a care in the world - who knew that we'd both get sh*t on by life from a great height, a couple of years later at pretty much the same time.
 
In October '09, while I was struggling with my cancer diagnosis and trying to cope with my first cycle of chemotherapy treatment, Kim was on her way home from a night out. I'm sure she'll correct me if I get the details wrong, but this is how I remember it. While crossing The Cromwell Road, she'd managed the first two lanes and was waiting in the middle by the pedestrian crossing for the lights to change. It was there she was hit by a car.
 
Despite being 'protected' by railings, the car was moving at speed - Kim didn't really stand a chance.
 
The first I knew about it was from a message posted by her sister on Kim's Facebook page. Things looked really grim as she spent (I think) 17 hours in surgery while they stabilised her and then tried to wire her back together. She'd broken all her ribs, her right hip had been shattered, both lungs had collapsed and her spine had been broken in a number of places. 
 
All because the driver hadn't been concentrating!
 
Kim's friends around the world held their breath and prayed hard, and it really did seem very touch and go for a while.
 
After a few months she was transferred to Stoke Mandeville - a place packed full of both tragedy and hope. People who'd also started their 'watershed day' without a clue about how it was going to end. Kim told us about her progress, but also about her struggles which congealed into the most horrific nightmares and flashbacks.
 
 
 
Fast forward 12 months and she was out of hospital and living back in London. While she could walk short distances using sticks, she still needed a wheel chair to get around - which bought with it a whole new set of frustrations, of high curbs, difficult buses and generally being invisible in her chair to shop assistants and the public.
 
I'm not even going to talk about the court case, struggles with the insurance company and social services which were anything but an incentive to get better.
 
Throughout she's been surrounded by friends who've looked out for her - this Aussie bird bought down in a foreign land. They've wheeled her about and kept her going, and I'm sure it hasn't been easy. It's been brutal and Kim is not a lady to gloss over how she is feeling.
 
A few months ago, Kim went back into hospital for another operation on her spine. It must have been a terribly hard decision to go ahead as she'd got some limited mobility and a quality of life (of sorts). She knew it was going to knock her back, but that she wasn't going to be able to move forward without it.
 
So back into hospital she went. The messages started to come again of pain and catheters and nightmares, and of having to learn how to walk - again. But now, back home again in London, she is starting to feel the benefit and is in training for a 5K WALK. She's raising money for London's Air Ambulance, who on that night back in October 2009 landed on the roof of a nearby Sainsbury's and scooped her shattered body up off the road and got her to the trauma unit at The Royal London Hospital in time for them to save her life.
 
Kim, who will be walking dressed up as Supergirl, is trying to raise £5,000! Click here if you'd like to sponsor her.




I've promised not to call her inspirational - in return she promises not to call me inspirational! Under the circumstances, we both just did our best not to die and are now trying to move forward, beyond a truly dreadful couple of years, as best we can.

So Kimmy, my message to you (please don't hit me!)  - I'm really proud of you and although we might not have journeyed very far in terms of miles over the last couple of years, in terms of life experience we've been to the outer reaches of the universe and back. Let's look to the future now - because in the words of 70's Rockers Slade "It's only just begun"!

Good luck with your walk - you are a star.

Love ya xx

 

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