In April 2007 I was skiing with a friend when I lost control on a jump and hit the ground. Hard. My friend Fraser skied up to me to check in and my response was that it felt like I had broken my jaw. This was a tough and interesting realization as up to that point in my life (at 34 years old) I had never broken a bone and had a belief that I never would. I told my friend that I was going to ski down the mountain and if the pain in the side of my face didn’t ease up I would probably call it a day. As I set off again and 10 minutes later arrived at the chair lift about 2 minutes ahead of Fraser. As I waited the staff operator at the bottom asked if I was OK, she could probably tell I had a little discomfort. I told her I had had a wipeout and that this was my last ride. At the top the medics were waiting, she had been concerned enough to radio through and their response was not encouraging. They took one look at me and told me I had to go to hospital immediately.
Up to this point I had been convincing myself that my “I do not break” belief system was solid and had started to feel better but after the certainty of the prognosis from the medics I lost some of my own certainty and started to drift into mild shock and then mild concussion. They stretchered me down to the gondola that took me to a waiting ambulance and I found it harder to talk as my jaw started to really ache. I thought Stay Positive! And above all don’t lose my sense of humor.
The ambulance ride was a riot. First the chief medic tried to cut off my ski jacket to put on a blood pressure cuff but there was NO way I was going to let that happen. It was a new jacket! Two minutes of negotiating later we had a compromise. They didn’t want to move me off the stretcher but would wriggle my jacket off as long as I agreed they could cut of my ski top underneath, as this would have required more effort to remove over my head. The jacket cost a thousand dollars – the top was ten bucks from Walmart. Done Deal! Next they asked if I was allergic to anything and after thinking carefully I looked straight at the nurse and in my most serious voice I took a deep breath and said ‘Gravity!’ We all burst out laughing which made me feel better despite the extra pain in my face. From that point the tone was set and it was jokes all the way to hospital.
By the time I arrived my girlfriend Tammy was already there. Fraser had called her from the mountain, and she was a refreshing and unbelievable source of both love and strength as the seriousness of the situation revealed itself. I was busted pretty bad. The whole right side of my face had been crushed-in by almost an inch, which was hard to tell due to the swelling, and I had multiple fractures including two fractures in my eye socket and two in my cheek bone. Ironically my jaw was fine. However, I would have to have a few hours of plastic surgery to rebuild my face courtesy of a titanium plate or two just to look normal again. Bummer. After the X-rays and MRI they took off my neck brace and I’ll never forget the look of shock on Tammy’s face as she saw the right side of mine lop downward without the support. I weighed things up. I knew everything happened for a reason and was looking for the positive here as hard as I could. “Don’t worry sweetie,” I managed to say although it sounded like I had a ping-pong ball in my mouth “If Life were simple it wouldn’t be as fun!” I smiled, or at least half my mouth did. I had been working damn hard on a big project for the last year and I guess this was Life’s way of slowing me down when I wasn’t listening to the little hints. OK, OK, I thought, I get it! Surgery was scheduled for 2 days later.
After the operation I was forced to listen to the ‘expert opinion’ of what my body would do and how long it would take to heal. At this stage of my life I already knew enough about taking charge of my own thoughts and beliefs as it related to healing and the body. Especially MY body. I was told I had an 80 – 90% chance of regaining feeling in my mouth after the nerves had been crushed. I thanked the doctor but in a somewhat casual tone told him I would choose the 100% group. He looked at me with a strange look and said “but you don’t get to choose” I told him it was too late, I’d already chosen. Period. I wasn’t trying to be arrogant or clever here, just stating a fact with total certainty. I told myself medical opinions are fine as long as I remember that they are just that – someone else’s opinion. Next I heard it would take a minimum 6-8 weeks for my bones to heal. Hmm, I thought that’s standard time for a standard person thinking standard thoughts. My response was ‘Doctor, I really appreciate you saying that but I’d like to do it in three’. At this point I think he just put it down to concussion and gave me a dismissive look while he wrote something in his notes. Probably the word ‘delusional’, ha ha. Though, again, an important distinction here was that this was not arrogance or defiance, that kind of energy would do nothing to accelerate my healing and neither would self pity or regret. Instead I had a total and rock solid conviction in my ability to nurture and support my body through the power of my mind. I had read and seen enough examples over the years to know what was possible in situations like this. The challenge most people who are injured have is that in the absence of finding a positive meaning they view the experience as negative and start to resent their affliction rather than see it as an opportunity. (i.e an opportunity to change the pace of lifestyle, to take stock, to appreciate the health they may have been previously taking for granted, to meet new people in new situations they would not have met such as in visits to the hospital, in short ANYTHING but a burden or hindrance etc.) Another important point here is that I got really connected to gratitude through a contrast frame of understanding how close it could have been to breaking my neck. Literally millimeters or a couple of degrees difference in angle on landing and it would have gone like a twig. I almost cried with joy thinking that if that HAD have happened and some magic genie had given me one chance to go back and ‘just’ have a busted face instead, I would have taken the offer in a heartbeat. It’s all perspective at the end of the day.
From this point I knew it was important to relax my body and not to resist what had happened. After all, I knew that ALL stress simply comes from resistance to what is. I visualized constantly, miraculous and perfect healing. Seeing the bones fuse together like powerful magnets surrounded by white loving energy and light. I saw my face getting stronger and healthier each passing minute, hour and day and I made sure that I was always relaxed and thankful for what had happened. Essentially, accelerated healing is 30% physical and 70% metaphysical so while the mental side, meditation and visualization was critical, I also cut all processed foods and any toxins out of my diet and gave my body the nutritional support it needed along with scheduled relaxation and whatever amount of quality sleep it tells me it needs. Three days after the surgery, and against the advice of the medical team, I jumped on a plane and flew to the Bahamas for a two-week seminar and a great environment to heal in. Within 48 hours of arriving I was training in the hotel gym. One of the benefits of the visualization was that ALL of my body started to respond and I grew muscle quicker than I had ever done. Each day my face showed big improvements and by the time I returned home to Vancouver two weeks later (less than three weeks after the accident) I was in the best shape of my life. My face was completely healed, my lips, tongue and inside of my cheek had regained virtually all of their feeling (this would take another month to fully come back to 100% but it was still half the time of what I was told would happen) and my body was strong, fit and solid.
I guess the lessons for me where that while I am not invincible (my new belief is that I only break once ) it is never what happens to you that makes the defining difference in you life, or any situation for that matter, but rather what you choose to DO with what happens. Victim is a role that too many of us play at some point in our lives and the second we do that we may as well give up all of our power there and then. However, given the chance, this amazing thing we run around in called a body is capable of incredible things when directed properly with the love and purpose required for immediate self-healing. I now have first hand experience of that and in the process can thank Life for the wonderful opportunity it gave me to never doubt it again.