Gorgeous Sunset in Australia 2013
I know all my friends are eager to know how I am so I'll begin my blog return with an explanation of how I ended up in hospital in Australia. I flew over to take watercolour workshops at Frogs Hollow just outside Brisbane. It was a very rural location. Both my husband and myself were met by the organiser and taken to a charming cottage to stay for the duration of my visit and teaching sessions. I met the first group of artists on the Saturday and we had a fantastic weekend exploring waterolour techniques. In fact by Sunday I wished I could be with everyone for another day as they were so amazing. But the second group of artists were arriving on the Monday evening for the next workshop which was to commence on Tuesday morning.
As Monday was my day for a break, my husband and I enjoyed looking around the countryside with me taking photographs of subjects I wished to paint with my next group. That evening we met the artists for an evening meal and I left eagerly looking forward to the next day. I was so excited when I woke on Tuesday morning as I had planned a terrific first day session which I knew would have everyone racing for their brushes. The demonstration pieces were in my arms as I headed for the car. So enthusiastic, I was leaving really early as I wanted to set up in good time before my class were ready to begin. Unfortunately thats' where everything went wrong. Outside the cottage were a few steps and as I left the last one I slipped and fell awkwardly. There was no hand rail to grab onto so my fall couldn't be prevented. Immediately pain shot through my leg and my husband said straight away that he thought my ankle was broken. To make matters worse there was no mobile phone connection so my husband walked to the nearest house and asked if they could ring for an ambulance. All I could think about was getting a message to my class but everyone else was really concerned about me. The neighbour was so kind and leant an umbrella to keep me in the shade while we waited for an ambulance to arrive which felt like an eternity. I had been given a " green whistle" ro dea with the pain but at this point I was convinced the doctors could patch me up and I would be returning to the workshop to teach. That really is all that was on my mind. I even planned to run the class into the early evening to make up for my being late. In my mind everything was going to be fine and I would paint non stop later on to make up for my being late.
I arrived at the first hospital where x-rays put a whole new picture on what was going to really happen. Here I was told to forget anything other than to be prepared for a stay in hospital and surgery. It finally started sinking in how serious my fall was. I was given fluids by drip and then my husband drove me to Brisbane where I could have surgery. It was the quickest option as shock was beginning to set in. Roz, one of the artists on the workshops came with us and directed us to the Wesley Hospital and stayed with us while we were settled in. If you can imagine a two hour drive with your ankle broken in two places and no pain killers you can also imagine how amazing Roz was, remaining calm and cheerful all the way dealing with the situation as if it was an every day occurence. On this journey I was still convinced there would be a way somehow to put me in some kind of cast so I could STILL teach my workshops and then have surgery on the Friday when everyone had left. But this was not going to be an option.
I was heartbroken. Not for me but for all the artists who had flown from all over Australia to meet me and to enjoy the workshop which I had been so looking forward to. I listened to everyone around me telling me how long the surgery and healing process was likely to be but I didn't take their words in. All I knew was that I badly wanted to get back to the class. I felt numb at this point. Disappointed, still believing this could not be happening.
It took three days alone for the swelling to go down before the surgeon could operate. Then a metal plate was put in one side of my ankle and pins were placed in the other. My fall had not only broken both sides of my ankle but the tissue in the surrounding area had also been badly damaged. Within hours of being admitted, it seems, a beautiful gift box of orange flowers appeared, from Jo one of the artists on the first workshop. She has taen in how much I love translucent orange and the kindness of her thought touched me so much. I looked at them and felt less frightened of what was to come. Then John, husband of Karen another artist on the first workshop arrived with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Soon my room was full of arrangements and became the favourite place for nurses to visit as it soon began to look like a garden. Even my publishers Australian contact and an Art Society sent me a gorgeous bouquet.
I obviously then had to stay in hospital following the surgery and have lessons on how to use crutches which will follow the early recuperation period in a wheelchair. I left hospital and stayed in Coolum, again thanks to the kindness of Roz who had arranged for us to stay in her apartment for as long as we needed. And its' taken a long time to be allowed to fly home. That journey in itself was no mean feat, needing anti -coagulant injections at each stage to prevent problems during the flight.
So now I look ahead to a few months where I will be getting used to moving around in a wheelchair and later on, using crutches. But I have already made it into my studio so I will be fine. I will need physiotherapy and I will need to be patient but there are so many positives from this experience.
Firstly I was so lucky not to be alone when the accident happend as I could have lain there for hours before I was found. Secondly I could have broken my hands which I know I would never have dealt with easily. I met so many wonderful people in Australia and witnessed their kindness in a way I will never forget. I also now have to return earlier than planned to give a free workshop to everyone who missed me on this occasion and all I can say is that the sessions then will be memorable because I am planning them already.
We never know what life is going to throw at us but each hiccup is a time to sit back and realise how lucky you are in life. I am so blessed as my husband is an absolute star in how he handled the whole accident and me. I also will be out of this wheelchair, not in it for life. How lucky am I?
I'm going to be fine. I will heal and I am looking forward to my next workshops. I even made it to the preview of my solo exehibition which opened on Friday night, regardless of a thirty hour journey beforehand ,with a broken ankle from Australia.
So, I am back on my blog, almost back to normality and I will be getting better every day from here in.
Watch this space!
I will be writing to all the artists who missed the last workshop due to my accident. Please email me if you haven't heard from me by the end of this week!