One evening not recently I received a call from my son who was in A&E, having had an accident while kite-surfing at an event on the south coast. We live more than 5 hours north from where he was and he lives 4 hours west of there, so he was completely on his own and feeling quite vulnerable as he waited to hear the extent of his injury.
This brought back memories of a similar call 13 years earlier when he had had an accident with his kite-buggy and that time he had concussed himself and badly broken his collarbone. The difference in how I reacted to both these events was considerable and made a huge difference to the amount of distress I experienced, which is why I thought I would write this down in case it helps anyone else.
On the first occasion my son was on a beach in the south west and I was in Wales with my daughter and friends. My husband was at home, so again we were both hours away from him. Thankfully the Mother of the friend he was staying with is a Nurse and she was able to be with him as he waited in A&E before he was admitted. My husband was a little closer and luckily was able to bring him home the next day him, while I drove home the following day.
How I reacted…….
When I look back, I remember feeling absolutely distraught that this had happened and I spent hours catastrophising about the extent of his injuries and worrying about not being with him. I was unable to eat my dinner as I waited for an update and the longer I waited the more anxious and distressed I became.
Kite-Surfing: crash landing
This time, he crash landed into the sea on his board from a height of about 20 feet. Although older this time, he was on his own and his injury was potentially more challenging because it involved his knee and would require surgery. No matter how old your children are, they are still your children and therefore it’s upsetting to know they are suffering.
However, there is an understanding that our perceived stress is actually only about 10% of what happens to us and 90% a result of how we deal with it. Thankfully this time I was aware of that, which helped me reduce the amount of self-induced stress that can be caused by catastrophising and generally worrying, especially about things we can’t alter.
Maybe some of my reaction the first time was because he was only 16 and it was the first time he’d had an accident like that. On both these occasions though my son had been injured, he was already in A&E and when he called me he wasn’t 100% sure of the full extent of his injuries. However, when he called me this time, I was immediately aware that I had a choice as to how I reacted.
We knew he would require surgery but didn’t know when this would be done and so we had to remain clear-headed in order to sort out the logistics of getting to him and then bringing him home, whenever that would be!
Coincidentally it happened to be the night before our online SIRPA Summit which Zoe (my PA and also a SIRPA Practitioner) and I had been planning for months, so the actual logistics of sorting this out in order to allow me to go to my son was a little complex than it might have been!
Although my husband was able to go because he was rained off from his work, I couldn’t bear the thought of not being with my son, especially as he was to have surgery.
Thankfully I had full confidence in Zoe, who agreed to take over and that night I made sure she had all she needed to run the event from her office. I also knew I would be able to pop in to the event occasionally during the day.
Avoiding Self-Induced Stress
Although this time there was far more for me to organise as well as knowing he required surgery, I was able to remain calm throughout. Even though my son was distressed when he first called, I knew I needed to keep a clear head in order to plan how and when we could be with him.
I was of course concerned about the extent of his injury and the surgery, but this time I was far more able to accept that I couldn’t change what had already happened. I also knew that he was safe and in good hands so my priority was sorting everything out in order for us to be able to be there for him as soon as possible.
It would have been easy to ignore the normal emotions that an event like this can trigger, because I was busy preparing and then getting up very early to travel down.
Thankfully however, with the awareness I now have I made sure that I practised emotional awareness off and on to ensure I was acknowledging and expressing any emotions that all my ‘busyness’ had distracted me from.
I also made sure that when I was able to, I journaled about how I felt and meditated to help me offload, rationalise and remain calm. Unfortunately, 13 years ago I was unaware of how to deal with my reaction or the emotions that had been triggered and I just wound myself up by worrying and catastrophising.
My son’s injury has come towards the end of what has been a very challenging year for our family. I am very aware that I have coped significantly better than I would have done if I had not come across Dr Sarno’s work and Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS) back in 2007. This and all the personal development I have learned about and integrated into my own life since then has also definitely helped me retain my health and wellbeing throughout it all.
This awareness allowed me on this occasion to respond consciously to the recent situation with my son, rather than reacting unconsciously and automatically, falling back into learned behaviours that had prior to this caused me considerably more stress than was necessary to deal with.
Thankfully I have been able to share this on the online SIRPA Recovery Programme for people currently dealing with health problems as well as in our online Practitioner training. This means we can help others become more self-empowered and more able to improve their own health and wellbeing.