Last weekend my son sustained head trauma.
Someone punched him so hard it broke his mastoid and, as he fell he hit and cut his head.
For two days there was blood coming from his ear, he couldn’t keep a glass of water down, and he was so dizzy he couldn’t get himself off the bed until he was so dehydrated that he didn’t want to.
On Sunday we called the paramedics when he couldn’t stop being sick and his headache was raging.
“We should probably take you back into A&E. It’s possible that something might have changed,” the paramedic said to him.
All I heard was, “something might have changed.”
There was nothing at all I could do.
When he was three and cut his head open on a radiator I carried him in my arms to the hospital and held him while they stitched him, but now he is taller than me and I felt insignificant in the face of the shock.
My daughter looked upset.
“Are you worried?” I said.
She began to cry.
I put my arm around her and told her it would be OK, even though I had no sense of certainty that it would.
After three days of little improvement but no decline, we took him back into hospital for a check. The doctors were happy with his progress and, by then, he’d started to drink, and slowly, little glimpses of him had begun to emerge.
Yesterday, I took part in a virtual CPD event about the power of using our imagination to combat trauma.
COVID-19 has disrupted everything we thought we knew about the world and, in many ways, about ourselves. The basic assumption that yesterday will predict tomorrow has been shattered, although that assumption was never worth much in any case.
What’s much more valuable to us is the ability to find hope in amongst the darkest of our thoughts.
“But what happens when we struggle hard for hope but seem unable to find any?” I asked Dr Lahad.
“We must remind ourselves that we have got through challenges in the past. Hope does not need to be big, it simply needs to exist,” he told me.
Tom was able to sit with us and eat last night in the warm evening air of the garden.
He’s moving slowly, but he was chatting and smiling and laughing, and I wanted to tell him how happy I was that he’s OK but, instead, I just enjoyed the moment.
I’d remembered something else that Dr. Lahad had told us about balancing fear with hope and mitigating the impact of trauma.
“We must plan joy because despair will come anyway.”