I’ve experienced more tragedy than you could ever imagine possible for an average man who was once content just to lead an ordinary life.
There have been many twists and turns, challenges and setbacks, but with each one I have kept pushing forward, and facing so much adversity has helped me become who I am today.
It’s been an extraordinary journey…
Let’s roll the clock back to 1999, the year my life hit a brick wall. Literally.
I was competing in an indoor football game when I tripped and was catapulted straight into the wall of the sports hall where we were playing — with catastrophic results.
Some of the details of what happened next remain hazy as I was in so much pain, but it quickly became clear that I’d shattered the bones in both my arms and this was serious. Just how serious only emerged after five major operations and countless hours of rehab: my doctors told me there was nothing more they could do for me, and I would never regain the use of my left arm.
Bad enough for most people, but I am left-handed and I worked as a hands-on aircraft engineer.
Life couldn’t get much worse — except that it already had. One of the reasons I was in that sports hall in the first place was to escape, to try to find a way of temporarily distracting myself from something much, much more devastating, something truly traumatic: a year earlier my estranged wife had committed suicide after suffering depression for nearly five years, taking our two young children with her. They were aged just seven and five.
It is hard to put into words a tragedy of this magnitude and for others to grasp the impact it has. It is fair to say that I’d had many moments in the months that followed when all I wished for was to join my family — I only stopped myself because of the thought of the further devastation it would bring to my parents.
I had already hit a virtual brick wall long before I hit the real one.
While I was in hospital after the accident I became very depressed, as all I could do was lie there thinking of what had happened in my life. My left arm was in a harness, paralysed, and my right arm was plastered above the elbow. I had needles in both feet — one for pain relief and the other for antibiotics — so I couldn’t move at all.
I had four operations in quick succession (the final one came later) and each time as I went down to theatre I remember saying to the nurse standing next to me that I wished and prayed I would not wake up again. I had come to the end of what I thought I could deal with, but still I kept waking up to carry on the fight to survive.
When I finally left hospital after two weeks, I had to think of new ways to distract my mind and thoughts: it was a constant battle. Somehow I’d hung on and hung on, only to now find myself facing the loss of my livelihood as well.
I had always wanted to be an aircraft engineer. Some of my earliest memories of growing up in my home town of Reading in Berkshire are of playing with model aircraft and dreaming of one day being able to work with the real thing, being able to fix them.
My career in engineering started in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing valves for subsea pipelines, but in 1990 I joined British Airways. I ended up working at London’s Heathrow and continued my career in aircraft engineering for more than 20 years, also working for Hawker Pacific Aerospace and Lufthansa Technik. My childhood dream had come true, and even if my personal life was in desperate tatters by the time I smashed into that wall, I was well on the way to achieving all I’d set out to do professionally.
Until the doctors told me my left arm was permanently paralysed. They’d pinned it, they’d put screws in it, I’d had every type of physio on offer, and while the bones had healed to some extent, the nerves were severed at the elbow. Severed forever, they said.
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that there aren’t many options for a left-handed aircraft engineer who can’t use his left arm and by now I was nearly two years down the line from that fateful day in the sports hall.
My employer had been supportive all the way, but time was beginning to run out and it’s fair to say I was pretty desperate. I just couldn’t see any way out of this nightmare, and so when a friend suggested I explore energy healing I figured anything was worth a try.
To find out more about Les’s journey pick up your copy of If I Can, You Can by simply Clicking Here
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