Halfway and Hopeful.
Halfway and Hopeful.
The halfway mark has been reached. Three months ago, I was in ICU having undergone major surgery. In three months, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) can commence proceedings to review my case for returning to the sky. Almost without exception, the first question that I am asked is, “How’s the recovery going?” And without exception, I inform folks that it is going well. I’m walking up to 5km each day, living a healthy life and I have even returned to work in a ground role, three days per week. The doctors are very happy with my progress and all seems well with the world. (Except that I’m not flying.)
Over the past twelve weeks, I have learned that many of the qualities that are of use in the cockpit are of value in a physical recovery such as mine. Self-discipline and measured, rather than emotional, responses to challenges. Perseverance, decision making and at times exercising the “power of the pause”. Following such an upheaval to everyday life, all of these qualities contribute to positive physical and mental health. In the hospital, we were encouraged at an early stage to get out of bed and at least sit upright for a significant portion of the day. In time, short walks around the ward were approved. I was surprised when the physiotherapist was particularly pleased with me doing as I had been instructed and it was only after I started my short walks along the corridor that I saw many patients disregarding the advice and spending the day in bed.
The truth is that life will serve up challenges and sometimes it might not seem fair – but fairness has nothing to do with our time on this planet. We have to play the hand that we are dealt the best we can and appreciate those things that life has granted us. I live in a great country, have pursued my passion for flight my entire life and have, in my opinion, the most wonderful wife and family any man could wish for. Do I wish that I hadn’t lost my father at a relatively young age? Do I wish that my airline career hadn’t faltered when Ansett collapsed? Do I wish that I hadn’t needed this surgery that challenges my future of flying. Well, yes and no.
I still lament that my father never got to appreciate my wife and kids but that being said, the time that I had with Dad was wonderful. He was always there for us and set a shining example of what it was to be an honest man and a fantastic husband and father.
When Ansett ceased operations, I had to start my airline career all over again. However, that episode in lost job security inspired me to have a “fall back” position and I discovered the joy of writing. That passion has opened so many doors and while I had to start anew, my time with Qantas has been filled with amazing experiences within Australian borders and far beyond.
As for the diagnosis I received a few months back, the alternative of not knowing my condition could’ve ended very badly. The fact that, as a pilot, my health was constantly monitored and that we live in a country full of medical expertise was a blessing. Now, after a few months of discomfort, I am back on track and planning on a long life with more amazing experiences awaiting me.
We all have setbacks and I consider that mine are relatively minor in the grand scale of life. There are many folks out there who do it far tougher than me and survive without the support that a treasured family can provide. When life throws us lemons it is a chance to appreciate the sweeter things in life. It is easy to moan but sometimes we need to wake up to ourselves and be thankful for the positive aspects of our life.
As I said, I am halfway and hopeful.