In the days of old a hero was someone who fought the enemy, someone who stepped forward with acts of courage, pushing through fear to do what needed to be done. Soldiers are awarded medals for their bravery and called a hero. Firefighters and policemen are deemed hero's for running into situations, like burning building to rescue or protect us from fires or bad people. They put themselves at risk on a daily basis in service of the general public. It takes a certain type of person to take on roles like firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and any job that risks their lives to protect us. But there are the regular people around us, who should be given that hero label too.
And now I hear people talk about athletes like they are hero's, even though some of them are highly paid to play a game, they are treated like heroes. Yes they are brave to put themselves out there, but in no way should they be deemed hero's.
As children, we look up to our fathers as hero's, because they are there scooping us out of trouble and rescuing us from danger. Big and strong, always there for us.
I have my own hero, someone who I look up to, admire for his courage, and strength at a time when most people would fall on their faces. My hero is my husband John.
In the spring of 2014, (1 year ago) John got up very early one morning to do something he loves to do, downhill ski. He volunteers as a guide with The Magic Bus, and travels with groups to the mountains. It was the last trip of the season, and he was pumped to do some spring skiing. He had skied most of the day, even texting me to tell me how great the conditions were, but at around 4:30 pm he took a tumble and life changed in that moment.
At around 8:00 pm he called to tell me to pick up his ski equipment from the bus. I knew this meant he was not on the bus, and I became very worried. He calmly told me, he jammed his arm and the other guides on the bus said they thought he had broke his arm. He also told me he was in the ambulance going to the hospital in Hinton, but he was actually in the ambulance being transported to the Stars Air Ambulance enroute to Edmonton. But John, being John, felt that me knowing the full extent of his injury would only cause me undue stress and worry, so he choose to not tell me the full extent, as he didn't know how bad it was either. He just knew it was bad, very bad, and felt it unnecessary to worry me.
About 6 weeks before, he had dislocated his shoulder for the first time in his athletic life, but the physiotherapist, felt he was okay to ski. I didn't like the idea of him skiing, but he is a big boy, and I didn't make a big deal about it. Something I regret, but how do you know?
After the 8:00 pm call, I waited and I waited, thinking I may have to drive to Hinton, to pick him up in the next day, but little did I know, what my next day would bring.
And just before 2:00 am, I received a call from John. He was at the U of A, being prepped for surgery.
He quickly told me that he had ruptured an artery in his shoulder, and asked me to call his children and and to have everyone pray for him. I froze, not completely able to digest the information. But John has no time to explain, he told me he was sorry, he loved me and hung up. I was stunned...
I could have been angry that he did not tell me earlier when he knew he was badly hurt, but I understood that he did what he always does, he protects me. Even In this situation, where he was the one injured, he thought of me first. It still makes me cry.
The surgery was long, eventful, and John survived, barely. He almost bled out several times during the 8 hour surgery, but manage to come out with his arm. With an incision from shoulder to wrist, and another incision on his leg for thigh to knee, he was a gruesome sight. When we walked into the Burn Treatment Centre at the U of A, I had no idea what I was walking into. 35 years earlier, I had been here, when another hero in my life, died after an propane explosion, my young firefighter husband. My head was spinning, as I was being slammed with past memories and what was happening in this moment. The term, "I didn't know if I was coming or going, flashes to my mind". As I walked though the doors at the burn treatment centre, I felt numb, weak and very confused at how I was feeling.
The doctor gave us the details, thank goodness, John's son and wife were present, because I think I left the planet, unable to process the menagerie of feeling.
For months, his right arm hung like a dead fish, from his shoulder. The physiotherapist even made suggestion to the possible need of amputation at the elbow, and the addition of a prosthesis. But John took the information and used it as fuel to work harder. In the beginning, he needed help buttoning his pants, his shirts, and I still butter his toast. But it is my pleasure to do one little thing for him. But when it comes to most things, I let him try, and if he asks I help, otherwise I let him work at it. And he usually finds a way to achieve his goal. He is not afraid to ask total strangers to help him if necessary. I am in awe on a daily basis with his determination.
Ever day he works his hand, keeping the dexterity in his fingers, never missing a physio or therapy session. John stays open to any treatment, cranial sacral, chiropractic and acupuncture. And over the last few months, he even comes to Yin Yoga with me every Friday and then swims after.
The improvements have been miraculous, still not 100%, but he continues working on it everyday. The other day I came home, and he was driving up our alley on his motor bike. Yikes! Some may say, how crazy, but that is who he is. He has a wild heart, he loves life, he loves to ski, he loves to ride his motorbike and does not live in fear of the what if's of life, this is one of the reasons I love him. And even though I would love to keep him protected and living safe, I can't stop him from living.
So when I think of hero's, I think of John and of all the people I know who live with injuries, disabilities and the challenges that are presented to them every day. These are the people we should be worshiping, not the million dollar hockey players or actors.
As I sit here in my living room, at 4:00 am, next to the fireplace with my purring cat on my lap, writing this blog, I am grateful for so much. But mostly that I can walk down the hall and crawl back into my warm bed and snuggle up to my husband. 35 years earlier, I did not have that option.
Live can change in a moment... Be grateful, if not now when?
Some of my other hero's: Jax Dorward, Sarah Creighton, Brendan Frewin, Laurie Slipchuk Young, Tonia LaRiviere, Aaron Moser.