This is a photo of my 17-year-old son lying in hospital. He had been mildly concussed in a football (soccer) game one Tuesday night.
I had decided to take off the day from work to refresh, rejuvenate and overcome a slight head cold coming on. It wasn’t a severe case of “man flu”, but I knew I had a big couple of weeks coming. My son had been playing some good football and so I decided to drive him to his game.
I was also getting ready to run the Press Service International-Christian Today Australia Young Writers Program Conference on the Saturday. And I was getting my body ready to be one of the teachers to take 90 Grade 7 kids to Canberra for their annual trip the following week.
I drove my son to his game that night. Forty minutes into the game an innocuous head clash began a whole series of events. The other guy looked much worse and had been split open by my son’s hard head. At half time, my son was groggy and unable to speak fluently so I decided to get him checked out.
He stumbled to the car and we drove him to the hospital where he stayed till midday the next day to undergo tests and make sure he was going to recover. I stayed at the hospital till 2:30am undoing all my rest during the day. I also received a warning for overstaying my parking in the Emergency carpark (ummm…I was with my son in Emergency ward, what was I supposed to do?)
Perspective is of great value to us
My “man flu” symptoms and focus on being rested for a couple of big weeks pales into insignificance in light of his injuries. A couple of weeks earlier he missed the opportunity to win the 100m title at his school due to a hamstring strain sustained as he was breaking the school record in the 200m. He then had to miss the opportunity to race for his school at the district athletics carnival as a result of this head knock. He was unable to drive, read, complete his many assignments or do anything for a week.
Yet, in light of the shocking news I received this week of a Grade 11 boy, who plays basketball for me, losing his father to cancer - puts things into perspective.
Another colleague lost her father this past week - puts things into perspective.
A family friend of ours who is chasing his AFL dream and was drafted to North Melbourne football club, twists his knee at training, ruptures his ACL and now will sit out a year of football as he rehabilitates - puts things into perspective.
A student in my son’s grade at his school, the final year of school, had been having regular headaches. He has been diagnosed with a brain tumour at the back of his head - puts things into perspective.
Sierra Leone is facing significant health challenges after this week's devastating mudslides claimed nearly 500 lives - puts things in perspective.
My son sustaining a mild concussion, or a minor brain injury as the OT put it, was a big thing in our family. We have been blessed to have three boys who love sport and are very active, but also three boys who have never broken a bone, had stitches or had any major injuries. This first trip to emergency was scary, and my wife was quite grateful I dealt with it all!
Things get put into perspective
When we look at things going on beyond our little family, things get put into perspective. When you look at what is going on in the lives of other people, you stop and appreciate your own circumstances. Not stop and say, “Well I’m so glad my life is not as bad as theirs.” It is more a stop and say, “I am grateful for my life/my family and I need to make the most of every moment I have here on earth.”
I treasure every moment with my wife and all three of my sons. I actually treasure every moment I have with my colleagues at school and also the students I teach. I know I am not the most pleasant person to be around at times and I often let my petty frustrations and inconveniences get in the way of healthy relationships with my family, work colleagues and also my students.
I guess when you stop and put things in perspective, it causes you to consider the many blessings you have and thank God for them, regardless of how big or small they seem at the time. Instead of being fearful, worried and filled with a sense of hopelessness about my son’s condition, perspective allowed me to appreciate that he was alive, had access to great medical staff on the same night he got injured and only received a mild concussion.
I gave everything else, the fear, worries and hopelessness, to God and He puts it in perspective.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at