Sunday, 12 May 2013

Australia Watercolour Workshops 2013: That accident!

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!


Mike said...

Dear Jean,
When we(your workshop class) were told what happened, our first concern was for you and we couldn't believe that this could happen to you on the other side of the world from your home. Thank goodness your painting hand(s) weren't injured also, as people instinctively use their hands to break a fall. Thank you for signing our books which such inspirational messages, Jean.
Wishing you a speedy recovery, and happily you can keep those brushes in motion.
Best wishes from Mike and Lacey.

Catharina Engberg said...

Sorry to hear about the broken ankle. But as you said, lucky that you didn´t break any hands! Hope you will be well soon again! Take care now, no fast runs with the wheel chair! ;)

Niki said...

How awful ... glad you're safely home and on the road to recovery .. may it be swift and smooth! Take care! x

Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness, so sorry to hear about your accident, but so happy you are on the mend and getting better. Sending lots and lots of warm, healing hugs to you! ~ Paula

okielois said...

Please be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to heal.
Lois in Oklahoma

Anonymous said...

I, too, innocently made a misstep last August while on vacation. I had 2 months in a wheelchair and then slowly worked back on my feet. Just wanting to encourage you .. .it is a LONG healing process BUT it will heal. Mine was the right ankle so no driving either!! I still have physical therapy every couple of weeks and they tell me to expect to be "normal" at the one year mark . . . so take a deep breath, grab your paint brushes and let nature take it's course. As you say, it's NOT permanent! Good luck, Jean!

Mrs A said...

I'm so sorry you have had such an ordeal, and not over yet. Life does throw us some curved ones sometimes, out of the blue. And I'm glad you have been cared for so beautifully, you obviously deserve it. Australia will be looking forward to seeing you again and hopefully treating you more kindly. Good luck and happy painting, albeit from a wheelchair and as you say how lucky you are knowing the wheelchair is temporary. Mrs A

Brotesdeternura said...

Ohh Jean: I wish you a speedy recovery. We missed your post and your paintings. Bailey miss long walks for a while but I'm sure he will not depart from your side, and will be the best nurse. Paint will be your best medicine and delight for our eyes. Thank you for this time dedicated to us. Grace

Sheila said...

Glad you to hear you are doing better. Be a good patient... and have patience with yourself. Healing takes time and rest. Wishing you quick healing :)

Trilbycole said...

You are amazing, just like your art. Your positive energy flows through all your artworks and yes, this incident will inspire you more and inspire all your fans out here. Get will soon and cheers and love from Canada

Trilbycole said...

You are amazing, just like your art. Your positive energy flows through all your artworks and yes, this incident will inspire you more and inspire all your fans out here. Get will soon and cheers and love from Canada.
Chitra(Trilby Cole)

Trilbycole said...

You are amazing, just like your art. Your positive energy flows through all your artworks and yes, this incident will inspire you more and inspire all your fans out here. Get will soon and cheers and love from Canada

Thum said...

Very sorry for the sudden accident. May god be with you at all time and get well soon. Thum

Sandra said...

Hello Jean - so sorry to hear of your accident!I hope your ankle is now on the mend and that you will be in good health swiftly. My daughter has given me your book Atmospheric Watercolours - I am devouring the pages and love your style. I would dearly love to attend your workshop when you return to Australia. Best and Healing Wishes to you!