Feeling grateful

A personal experience of a friend's bushwalking injury leads Simon Smart to reflect on what it's like to live in this particular time and place.

Yesterday morning, 15 minutes after my wife left for a bushwalk near our home, she called me. Her friend and walking partner had slipped and fallen on a rocky, sloping track. Her ankle, it turned out, had broken in three places.

I arrived to see her lying on an awkward downward slope and in excruciating pain. By that time a mountain bike rider had called the ambulance via an emergency app on his phone that provided our precise location.

Two young female paramedics appeared at the scene. Another paramedic arrived not long after. His skill is in bush extractions that sometimes involve abseiling to where he’s needed.

These three quickly sprang into action, administering intravenous morphine, setting up a splint and preparing to get the patient out. This was all done with an air of reassuring calm and focused care.

The difficult location meant the exercise ended up involving the fire brigade and police as well. That night, after X-rays, our friend was operated on to insert a plate and screws and began what will be a long road to recovery. But recover she will.

Depending on how much Endone she had been given (!), our injured friend might not have woken up this morning feeling especially grateful.

But over time she may well have a moment to ponder the intricately complex system of healthcare that is ready to serve us in our most vulnerable moments.

To feel a sense of gratitude for human ingenuity deployed in the service of individual healing and flourishing.

For me, the whole experience was a reminder of how incredibly blessed we are to live in a place and time in history where this kind of nurturing of human life is routine. Even today, around the world, that is far from everybody’s experience.