Derek Penwell | Huffington Post | April 2, 2013
I say to my students: “Imagine waking up in a hospital bed, unable to remember how you got there. Your nose itches, but when you go to scratch it you discover that you have no hands. You panic, and begin a full body inventory. You look at your legs, wrapped in white gauze, and you realize that you can’t move them.”
Uncomfortable looks on my students’ faces.
“How do you feel?”
Words like “hopeless,” “helpless,” and “afraid” filter back.
“How could you not, right? It’s a nightmare. What are you going to do the rest of your life? Will you be able to support yourself? How will you live?”
But then I say, “What if, at the moment when you’re sure you’ll lose your mind if you don’t get some information, the doctor walks in and says:
‘I’ve got some bad news for you. You’ve been in a terrible accident. We had to amputate your arms, and at present you’re paralyzed from the waist down. However, your injuries weren’t sustained in the accident itself. You got out fine … but your mother was trapped. You went back to help extricate her from the car. As you finally got her out, the car exploded, and you caught the brunt of the blast. But if you hadn’t gone back, she would have been killed. You saved your mother’s life.’”
Quietly, I say, “Now, how do you feel?”