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Dear Courtney…

Dear Courtney…

Dear Courtney…

Happy Birthday – 13 Today!

And that is the reason this is being sent out on a Tuesday, not a Monday – for the very first time.

Because you are one of the bravest people I have ever met, an inspiration to me and to all who know you.

Thank you to you and your wonderful parents Alison and Charlie for giving permission to share your story – real you, real names, real school playground.

On Tuesday 18th December 2012, you ran out of school, an 11 year old excited by Christmas, and with not a care in the world.

And then you tripped.

Not just any old trip. Oh no, Courtney, you don’t do things by half. In your fall, you managed to find, and become closely acquainted with, a single metal stump protruding from the ground.

Human arm v metal stump.

You fractured the growth bone in your wrist. Ouch! The stump seemed unmoved.

Still, these things heal. So off you went to hospital (beats Christmas shopping), they cut you open, inserted a metal plate to aid healing, plastered up your wrist and arm…and six weeks later, when the plaster was removed, you felt great again.

Wow, how brave was that?

What? Sorry? Did I get that bit wrong?

Oh yes…in actual fact the moment the plaster came off your arm began to hurt – understatement of the year – really hurt, and the pain grew in intensity.

Off to the hospital again, for your parents to be told the pain is “most likely” in your mind, and very likely to be CRPS

They couldn’t x-ray your arm because the plate was metal, and the pain continued, getting steadily worse, sometimes to the point of agony. As it did, you went to see lots of medical experts, all of whom said that you were, in effect, making it up.

But throughout it all, two people believed you – your mum and dad, Alison and Charlie.

They did not know what to do – and so they turned to a top expert on the mind.

Sadly she wasn’t available, and so through a mutual friend (Andrew Marks at Tullow Oil) I was asked if I could help.

I am not a medical doctor, academic psychologist or neuro-surgeon, however when we first spoke, and I learned you had been in such severe pain for 11 months, I said I would do what I could.

From November 2013, by phone, in person and via your mum I did everything! As a qualified hypnotherapist I knew a little, so I consulted with real experts – everyone I knew in the field of the mind, throughout the world.

Do you remember when I thought we had a breakthrough? After an intensive relaxation session, which would have calmed a raging bull, I asked you if you felt “less pain” or “more pain.” You whispered “less.” And I thought ‘YES, YES, YES.”

Then your mum said “tell David the truth” and you looked at me and whispered “sorry, no”.

‘What’s going on here? Why is none of this stuff working? Could it indeed all be in her mind? If it is, she is one imaginative girl! And if it’s not in her mind, and something has gone wrong inside her arm with the metal plate, she is one helluva brave girl! I think I have to give up now, I’ve done what little I can.’

After those thoughts I looked into your eyes and saw a tiny tear in your left eye. That, plus the fact that you had never once complained about your pain, made me think ‘ok, one more go, and it’s got to be a biggie – then we will know once and for all whether it is imagined, or real.’

Roll on to 4th February 2014.

Another Tuesday, in your lounge, watched over by mum and dad. I was determined this was going to be it. Never have I been so well prepared – Tony Robbins, CBT, NLP, Hypnosis – I stacked techniques one on top of the other. By the time we had finished – over an hour – I should think the whole street was more relaxed!

Except you.

I remember touching your arm (non hurty one!), and turning to Alison and Charlie, as if it was yesterday.  I said “In my total non-expert, non-medical and non-academic opinion, I can absolutely assure you that Courtney is not making this up. Something is wrong with the metal plate. I stake my reputation on it.”

‘Reputation? You have no reputation whatsoever in this field – what are you saying David?’

And they believed me, as they had believed you.

This time though, it was going to get sorted. Alison and Charlie did whatever they could do to get your arm opened up – and so they did.

At last, they opened up your arm only to discover… the metal plate had indeed shifted, very early on apparently and was now rubbing against the main tendon and not against bone. The surgeon who performed the operation said you must have been in “absolute agony”.

Dear Courtney, I have your lovely “thank you” card in front of me, right now.

And I must also thank you. Thanks to you and your parents I know the true meaning of being authentic, of being brave and of absolute #nevergiveup persistence.

And, as you said to me, if your story plays a small part in helping someone overcome their hurdle that just makes you stronger every day.

And for my part, I have also amassed loads more tips, how-tos and techniques, as well!

This story, though, is not about me, it is all about you.

It is about one brave young girl who had her life put on hold, who lived in agony for over a year, all the time not being believed. That girl who has returned to being herself.

So, have a wonderful 13th birthday Courtney – hey, a whole year to cross on the stairs, walk under ladders, and step on the cracks in the pavement.

Just, please, if in the course of your adventures, you perchance come across a small metal stump, that is minding its own business, please mind yours, and quietly walk the other way.

With thanks for helping me, by trusting me to help you.


28 Responses to Dear Courtney…

  1. WOW. All I could initially say when I read that. Totally moved. Unfortunately it’s no surprise that the medical profession didn’t believe her but thankfully she had the support of her parents and you to get to a point where they had to take action and have a look.

    • Thank you Annette – all of the work that went into getting that nl week absolutely spot on (for Courtney) was repaid with your first word. David

  2. David, thank you again for your beautifully written newsletter about Courtney and her experience – we are honoured and privileged to have met you – you will be in our hearts forever and a friend for life!

    Kindest regards
    Alison Jelley

    • What more to think, say or write Alison?! Great to speak last night and it sounds like you have quite a party planned for this weekend!! Always, David x

    • How wonderful to hear from you Malcolm – I often think of you and wish you well in your continuing success. Thank you for your comment – my love to you and your family. David x

    • Thank you Jackie – I passed on your best wishes. I knew this story would move you greatly – David X

  3. Inspiration personified is the only way I can describe Courtney after reading this, I knew she had issues with her arm but never the whole story. So pleased for her, Alison & Charlie and hope the 3 of them have a wonderful day.

  4. David,

    I don’t normally comment but this cuts through any reserve, the power of this amazing story; Courtney’s bravery and patience, your determination and care, her parents’ love and support, and hopefully a happy ending for this young woman to such a difficult year. Happy Birthday indeed and may 13 be the luckiest number!


    • WOW! Thank you Elsa, I know you read every week and it means a lot to me that you have posted I passed on your best wishes to Courtney on the phone last night. Hope all is well with you. David x

  5. Thank you, received by Email…
    Brilliant David
    So good to hear Courtney is pain free now.
    Something similar happened to my mum-in-law, after a accident she had a metal pin and plate put inner upper arm, she too suffered pain for a couple of years. when they opened up her arm the pins plates and screws just fell out! It had all come undone! No wonder she was in ago y.
    Good job she persisted with the Doctors too. #nevergiveup #persistence

    Hats off to you 🙂

    Jo x

  6. Wow so pleased that Courtney finally got the result she was hoping for an Outcome that she must have dreamt was not possible and proof that if you really want something that you can get there by trying something different until she got the result she deserved. What a touching story well done David and well done Courtney !! truly Inpirational

  7. I have a child who dislocated an elbow at the same age, I could not imagine having it fixed only to realise it had not been. For a whole year.
    My heart goes out to Courtney. Happy Birthday…deserve it!

  8. If I have read a more heart-wrenching story in the last five years I can’t recall it.
    Wonderful that Courtney is fit and well again.
    And what an inspiring piece, David. Made me quietly weep.

  9. Some stories are just heart tugging and warming in equal measure.
    Getting to the end of the story never felt so satisfying…

  10. As always, inspiring… #nevergiveup Happy Birthday, Courtney! This reminds me of my brave mum who never gave up when doctors told her I was just playing up because of my parents’ divorce – turns out, after 8 months, that I had Type 1 Diabetes, and any longer I could have died without insulin! Goes to show!

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