Hearty Musings 3: Four Years On

This year, Valentine’s Day marks 4 years since I experienced a cardiac arrest. I wrote about some of my thoughts and feelings about this experience and how it affecting my thinking about education in two posts here and here. It’s interesting looking back on that second one, where I contemplated ideas about the Self before I’d read Foucault’s Self Writing. The ideas I was contemplating at the time around identity and an almost deliberate act of identity construction seem now almost ironic, perhaps.

Four years on, how have things developed? How have I developed?

Well, in general, it’s been a pretty good four years. Professionally, I finally decided to get out of the state sector and have found myself in the rather odd position of being happy at work. I’ve taken a promotion, and actually seem to be doing okay at it. I seem more able to deal with things, and to get things done.

Personally, I have been thrilled and humbled to speak at three ResearchED events and getting more involved in the Tweacher Society. This has been great. I’ve met lots of amazing teachers and others who have inspired me and given me confidence; far too many to mention all of them here, but I have developed a strong network of people that I genuinely consider friends. I’ve had some positive reactions to my EdD work, which have encouraged me to continue and I am hoping to finally finish this year.

My family continue to amaze me every day; my daughters are just wonderful.

But, and it’s pretty difficult to find the right words for this, I do still occasionally feel as if I’m piloting a cadaver. This sensation was the dominant one for about a year following the cardiac arrest; a sense of disconnect from the world that was unlike anything I’d previously felt. I was a zombie, rather like the version of Lazarus that Carol Ann Duffy portrays; a fraudulent ghost inhabiting a stolen body and a stolen life.

The obvious damage to my short-term memory didn’t help, and although I’ve gotten used to this, it still causes issues for me at times. People don’t seem to realise that this is a genuine issue; they think I’m just not paying attention. Which may be true. I really struggle with conversations at times still.

It’s timely that this anniversary – my sort of rebirthday – falls upon Ash Wednesday. Lent is supposed to be a reflective time; a time during which we refocus on the things which are important to us. But, whilst reflection is important, it is important also to look ahead. There is not much use in mourning a version of me that I’ve long forgotten.

And so, with Lent in mind, I shall choose to give up the doubts that tempt me to hesitate and procrastinate. It’s time to inhabit this body, this life, and to pilot the phoenix.

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