Archive for January, 2012

It’s not a great way to start the New Year, but, as they say, shit happens.

After a particularly delightful dinner at WAQU with friends to celebrate the arrival of 2012, we were taking a leisurely walk home when my foot hit an unreasonably raised piece of pavement, my body flew in the air and my face landed on hard concrete. The street was so poorly lit that I was virtually in darkness, but I felt my nose crunch and tasted grit in my mouth (is this what it’s like when someone bites the dust?) My Titanium designer glasses conveniently broke into two neat halves, putting a nice dent between my eyebrows, as I found out later. Surprisingly, I got up and felt well enough to walk the rest of the 5 minutes home.

I was so relieved that no bones had been broken that I felt quite blase about what seemed like a continuous nosebleed. I was also grateful that between us we seemed to have an endless supply of tissue which was put to good use. My face felt tingling but not painful. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror in the lift that I realised the extent of the injury. Suffice to say that my face was a bloody mess!

Fortunately, most of the injury was of the abrasive kind, and after giving me a tetanus shot, the very nice young doctor I saw assured me that the only concern he had was infection of the grazed skin. As the red scabs formed on the skin, I felt both relieved and worried. Relieved that the healing process had begun, but worried how long it would take to look ‘normal’ again.

In order not to frighten friends, I decided that we should cancel the drinks with our neighbours and the lunch with Swedish visitors that were scheduled this weekend. But I can’t keep hiding at home. I’ve enrolled in a course next week that I have been looking forward to. Cancelling is not an option, but going out and facing strangers in my current state is going to be a challenge. If only I could wear a burqa or even one of those face masks that were fashionable during the SARS and Avian Flu outbreaks in Hong Kong!

Out of habit I Googled for some ideas of how to cope. Would you believe it, there’s a blog post called ‘The gift of failure: ten reasons why falling flat on your face is a good thing’. As someone who have written about ‘The Art of Failure‘, I wasn’t immediately cynical about this piece, but I’m still struggling to apply all ten reasons to my current situation (I’ve substituted ‘falling’ for ‘failure’ throughout):

  1. Accept falling as part of life—I suppose this makes sense as we move into old age.
  2. Falling means you have the courage to try—well, true, if I stopped walking I wouldn’t fall.
  3. Falling teaches you something—yes, that I should sue North Sydney Council for unsafe pavements and inadequate street lighting!
  4. Falling strengthens character—I’ll let you know after tomorrow; it’s very likely that I’d have developed very thick skin by the end of the week. So that’s character, I suppose. Also the scars that I will have on my face is sure to make me look strong.
  5. You can become a mentor (for resilience and fortitude)—wow! That’s a real plus. I must make a documentary about how I endured this experience.
  6. Falling stretches you—this is a bit of a stretch, I think it’s unlikely that I would have developed an appetite for wearing stiletto heels to retrace my footsteps on that street to see whether I will survive the uneven pavement.
  7. Real friends emerge during falling—that’s true, but I will forgive them for not ever wanting to walk with me again.
  8. Fallings are often opportunities in disguise—I haven’t thought of that! Perhaps I can take the rest of the year off work on sick leave? Write a novel about falling on my face which will become a bestseller, and eventually a Hollywood movie?
  9. Falling is sometimes intentional—no, surely not!
  10. Falling fosters creativity—yes, I’ll have to be very creative about how to look ‘normal’ in the next few weeks/months!

If you have any creative suggestions about how to cope with a sudden facial disfigurement, I’d like to hear from you.


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