As I said, 2016 was a weird year. In April 2016, I was on short bus ride on my way to my local underground station (on my way to work), and I took a fall on the bus. I smashed my head on the bus window. Despite lots of seats being available when I got on, I decided to stand, as I’m only normally on that bus for 2-3 minutes before I need to get off. I was standing towards the front of the bus, leaning back against the area for luggage and larger items, and I wasn’t holding on.
At some point, the driver slammed on the break, and I went stumbling all the way to the front. I stumbled and stumbled for what felt like a minute (of course it wasn’t, but the whole thing felt like it was in slow motion!) I just couldn’t stop.
Well eventually the windscreen stopped me.
The driver looked at me in disbelief, and I felt like a small school child. Deadly embarrassed, I told him I was ok and that I was going to sit down. Trying to avoid eye contact with people, I went to sit down and started assuring a couple of ladies who were looking at me that I was ok.
“You’re not ok”, they said, “You’re bleeding!”
I looked down and there was blood in my handbag, on my book, on my coat… everywhere! “Where is it coming from?! I can’t feel anything!” – huge embarrassment is what I felt. And the ladies started covering me in tissues…
Well, to cut a long story short, I didn’t make it to the underground station. And I didn’t make it to work either. At the bus stop, the driver stopped the bus and got everyone off – and yes, I was the ‘person taken ill on a bus’, the popular one you want on your commute to work. Not! And of course the embarrassment didn’t stop as the driver had to call an ambulance and the police.
(One day let’s talk superpowers – I’ll pick Invisibility, please!)
So after another hour or so dying of embarrassment while giving a report to my husband, the paramedics and the police, I was in my local hospital’s A&E department getting my left eyebrow glued back together. The feeling-like-a-small-school-child phenomenon continued as a nurse started telling my husband to keep an eye on me for signs of head trauma for at least 48 hours, talking to him as if I wasn’t even in the room.
But why did I really smash my head on the bus window?
Because I was on my own little planet.
I wasn’t there.
My mind was miles away trying to finish buying something I needed for the boys and that I had ran out of. How could I have run out? I’m normally on the ball. Why am I dropping the ball?
As I was walking to the bus stop, I was planning on sorting this all out on the bus, and so I did. I bought what I needed, felt the bus breaking, put my phone away and reached for the pole.
It was too late.
I missed it.
My hand tried to grab the pole and grabbed some thin air instead.
Because of course I had to finish buying whatever I was buying, and then put my phone away before trying to hold on. Of course that was more important. That was the priority – not actually being aware of what was going on around me. Not watching out for my own safety?!
“Thank God the boys weren’t with you when it happened”, they said.
Thankfully, I’m normally a bit more switched on when I’m with the boys. It’s when I’m on my own that I seem to live on another planet. One of to-do lists and priorities which don’t really make any sense to anyone else!
“You should sue them”, they said.
Yes, yes, of course I should, because the minute the bus company starts reviewing the CCTV recording and sees me on my phone, not paying any attention to what’s going on around me, I’m going to have to die of embarrassment all over again, aren’t I? How about we try and retain that little shred of dignity we have left?
Did I learn anything then?
Yes, I realised how much of my life these days is run on my phone. It feels like there is SO much going on in my life and the lives of our children that I feel the need to use any spare moment I have to cross something out of my to-do list. I’m always multitasking. I’m always doing something else.
And I’m missing out on things.
I’m not paying attention.
I’m not really here.
And it’s not even safe!
Smashing my head on the bus window was a real wake up call. Call it a head injury, but it made me realise it was time for a change.
Something had to give.
There was (is) too much going in my life, and I knew then that I couldn’t keep up with it. Not at that pace. Not safely. And not if I don’t start looking after myself a bit more.
And after that episode, I decided that something had to give before something worse happened, and I set some things in motion (like coming to the decision to leave my part-time job to spend more time with my boys), but I didn’t quite get there fast enough.
And something worse did happen. In September of that year, I broke my leg.
But that’s a story for another day.
PS: you’ll be happy to know that I didn’t experience any head trauma in the end, and my left eyebrow fully recovered. The scar is fading and is strategically hidden under my eyebrow, so you can’t even see it. The tenderness has now fully disappeared, and the bus driver is all smiles when he sees me (yes, I know it’s because he’s happy I didn’t sue him).