At this workshop on person-centred care we heard Jamie Andrew tell his story of tragedy, amputation, recovery and hope. Jamie told us how he endured five days perched in a storm on a tiny ridge in the Alps. Tragically, the friend with him had died. Both of Jamie’s feet and hands were totally frostbitten.
He was in a bad way when he got to hospital and the amputations had to be done.
His moment of truth in a hospital in France was when he wondered “would I be better off dead?”. What made him decide to live? For people like myself who have faced suicidal thoughts in their everyday life I wanted to ask him, was there one thing that made him decide to live? He told me it was not just the one thing. No-one offered any counselling in his darkest times. He had talked about his girlfriend and his friend who had died and these people made him choose to recover.
There was also one person – an occupational therapist, who asked him the most important question : “What Would you like?” and he said, “To feed myself”.
The person got a bit of Velcro to make a strap for his arm, stuck a spoon in it and he was off.
He was able to do Something for himself. He went on to walk and eventually climbed the same mountain again.
We all felt inspired to listen to him and he made me reflect on how mental health has a lot to do with our physical health.
The quote that sticks with me is “Every challenge is a mental challenge”.
The lesson I take is that we humans are so powerful when we allow ourselves to be the best we can be. Like the Mandela quote that says :
” our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”