Courage; Bravery; Strength; Persistence; Empowerment; Camaraderie; Kindness; Gratitude; Determination – These are at the core of what the Invictus Games are about, and remind us of the resiliency and humanity of the 550 wounded service men and women from 17 different nations who competed in the games.
The word Invictus means “unconquered”, and it represents the mantra that the service members and veterans who competed against one another uphold. It is an idea that represents the inner fire that lives within us that drives us to compete against oneself. It is the essence of The Invictus Poem, which triumphantly proclaims, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”.
I had the privilege of volunteering my time as part of the medical team at the Invictus Games, and I came away inspired.
Every person, every life, every story was inspiring.
Suffering from depression, anxiety and symptoms of posttraumatic stress were just as predominant as the physical injuries and pain. It was an important reminder to everyone that visible or invisible injuries are injuries, and as a cohesive medical team, we treat both.
Quality social support plays a big role in our life and in particular when overcoming challenges and during recovery. I had the honour of speaking with families and friends of injured service men and women, and everyone could see the impact of the games and the importance of meaningful and goal oriented activities in building a new life chapter.
Amidst the inspiring moments, there were also some very touching ones. When some of the competitors were speaking to their families via video chat, they handed me their phone so that I could say hello. And I won’t forget the many greetings and smiles, high fives and fist bumps that made me laugh each time. I have never received so many high fives or fist bumps in my life! The camaraderie was so heartwarming.
I was very moved when the co-captain of Team Canada, Simon Mailloux, walked into the medical clinic close to 2200 hr, and shook the hands of all the medical staff to express his gratitude. I am not sure he realized how much this impacted us. We were so moved and touched.
I was able to meet Prince Harry and I had the chance to tell him that everyone is proud of him, loves him and that he has so much of his mom in him. He was gracious and expressed his gratitude.
Some of the most inspiring things I heard were that the games were not about competing, but about facing your injuries. There was a resolve from many of the wounded men and women there that they would not let their injuries rule their lives, nor does it define who they are.
Building resilience is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process. And as we go through the process, we experience emotional pain and distress and work on using strategies that can help us cope and adapt to difficult events. The competitors at the Invictus Games, and their families and friends were role models of resilience in action.
They showed Canada what it meant to be unconquered.
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