On The Other Side

I love paddling. I love the feeling of catching a wave and scooting down the other side. It's breathtaking. Although what I love more is being on the water, focusing on nothing else, other than how many strokes I’ve paddled and the direction of water. This is what meditation means to me. I feel clearer and calmer as soon as my feet touch the sand and I jump onto an outrigger canoe. I feel disconnected whilst at the same time connected. Disconnected from the daily grind yet connected to a larger purpose. All amongst a community of like-minded individuals helping to support you through the good times and bad. Today I needed this community alongside my professional community more than ever. Paddling met Emergency Health Care.

A good friend and I were heading out for a very usual day on the water. We were excited, the wind was blowing in the right direction and the waves were standing up tall. As we just started our run I was picked up by a big swell, I found myself off balance. As I reacted and threw my body to the left, I was too late. The wave was moving quicker than me. With my arm thrown back and my body (plus canoe) heading down the wave, I felt the pop. My shoulder was out. OUCHHHHHHHHH!!! Hanging on for salvation with one arm, I was wondering what the @#%! am I going to do? Fortunately, with my paddling bud right behind me, I unknowingly managed to get back on the canoe and paddle one handed to the beach. With a sigh of relief and a little wait, I was off to see my colleagues in the Emergency Department (ED).

With a green whistle and a little more pain relief from my paramedic friends I was in ED. On arrival I was triaged and promptly my pain was recognised. Moving to an acute cubicle, I was met by a senior medical officer (SMO) and a principle house officer (PHO) finishing night shift. After a few pleasantries, the SMO tried one way to reduce my shoulder. After a few attempts, nil success and some large groans, the PHO stepped in and practiced some very timely persuasive communication. He used the principles of Crucial Conversations beautifully. In one quick, pain less attempt my shoulder was back in and the relief was instantaneous.

Many lessons were learnt from this experience, but these stand out:

1.     Paddling is my way of disconnecting yet connecting. It’s the type of active meditation that keeps me mentally and physically afloat, although not a literal description in this instance.

2.     We need community, especially at our most vulnerable. Sometimes we need many communities to connect and support us.

3.     Having crucial conversations are essential for patient safety, especially in emergency medicine. I experienced the importance and brilliance of how crucial conversations can effect outcomes and improve safety. My pain was instantaneously improved due to the courage, skill and conviction of this legend PHO looking out for me.

Life is chaotic, complex and unpredictable.

Some days you’re barely staying afloat whilst other days you’re riding a perfect wave feeling on top of the world. Often you feel out of control, which in this instance I did. If we can control some of the day to day fundamentals and have a community of supporters behind us, we can ride every wave and even handle the ones that dump us into the water.

This is why we’re creating fwards, to help give people control over the fundamentals of life, bring you closer to your community and elevate you to be your best self.

Images gratefully and generously provided under copyright by Marty Strecker, www.martystrecker.com, https://www.instagram.com/martystreckerphotography/

Don't miss these stories: