Rod Dreher

I saw a photo from last summer of my sister Ruthie and her daughter Hannah, both glowing from the sun (they were on vacation). And today, Ruthie is devastatingly ill with cancer. I am oppressed by the thought of how quickly everything can change for any of us. Read this heartbreaking account by Melanie Reid, a columnist for the Times of London, of what happened to her after taking a fall and breaking her neck three weeks ago. Excerpts:

They put me on the stretcher and already, in a weird way, my life was shutting down. I was strapped on to bodyboards and put on the floor of this helicopter. I love helicopters. I’ve always loved helicopters and I couldn’t enjoy riding in it. I experienced a moment of utter frustration.
The winchman was indeed very dishy, and he took his helmet off, but I was having trouble breathing, and I think he was worried that, because it was obviously a neck break, I didn’t have the chest power to breathe. I said to him: “I can’t breathe,” and he said: “Yes you can, girl. You do this for me. We’re going to be there in six and a half minutes.” It was one of these hilarious Mills & Boon moments where you think, I’m yours, I’m just completely yours, and at the same time you’re thinking, no one will ever want me again.


You go from running your own life, from being go-for-it, up-for-it, get-the-job-done, to being this person who is completely helpless. The change is extraordinary. Apart from the physical shock of a spinal injury, there is the emotional shock of coming to terms with the fact that you’ve lost control over everything … everything — from your future employment to your bowels, even to your ability to call out for a nurse in the night.
Those of us who operate at full volume, full control, we make the decisions and we make them quickly, and suddenly we’re caught up in a world where there are no decisions to be made. We just have to lie and wait. Our futures have been taken out of our hands in a way we could never have dreamt of. And we know that coming to terms with that will be an extraordinary battle.

God help her. Want to send Melanie Reid a card? She’s in the spinal unit at Southern General Hospital, 1345 Govan Road, Glasgow G51 4TF, Scotland.

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