5pm, Friday 24th August
Since 2pm I have been trying to work on my book. Also, since 2pm, a joyful little puppy named Winston has been bugging me to play with him and his ball. Who can say no to those big round puppy dog eyes.
9pm, Tuesday 4th September
Last weekend, I had my biggest adventure post GBS.
Alone on Thursday, I braved the trains from Haslemere to Andover. But that’s not all! On Friday, my girlfriend, Alex and I drove down to Exeter. Being the wild road trippers that we are, we stopped off for lunch and petrol in a town named Amesbury. Situated just 15 minutes from Andover. We also paid a visit to my aunt Mary and great aunt Patricia in Somerset. Mary is the breeder of our dogs Morgan and Winston. So, while there we also said hello to 13 members of their springer spaniel family, including both Morgan and Winston’s mummies. All of them black and white and bouncing about, it was great!
At 6:15pm, we arrived at the Exeter City Centre Premier Inn. Exhausted from the journey, I napped for an hour. All week Alex had been bigging up this pub Firehouse which serves 14” pizzas for only a tenner. So, for dinner tonight, its Firehouse. After walking about a kilometre to the cathedral, my legs began to tire. Alex reassured me that it is only a seven-minute walk from here to Firehouse. 15 minutes later and we are still walking. I ask how much further and apparently it is just around the corner and 20m to the left. It was not ‘just around the corner’, it was down a hill and 200m in the distance. At this point Alex chooses to let me know that ‘we would be lucky to get a downstairs table’ anyway. She had also forgotten her ID and I could see them checking ID’s at the door. So, feeling this was all just some not so funny joke, I refused to take another step until I had the guarantee of a table. Leaving me at the crossroads, Alex ventured on. Five minutes later I picked up her call. She had a table and miraculously, it was downstairs.
When I joined her, Alex proceeded to tell me just how miraculous it was that we got a table downstairs. I didn’t know whether to laugh at our luck, or cry that she had dragged me all this way based purely on a hope. The walk was too far, I needed a drink!
To be fair to her, it was a very good pizza. Big and tasty, just how I like it.
Walking back, I protested against going the same way and we found a shortcut. We cut off about one kilometre from the original route.
I spent the following morning recovering from last night’s walk, whilst Alex went shopping. In the afternoon, I joined her for the second round of shopping. Because of the late 8:45 booking for supper, we were able to head back to the inn for my third nap before supper.
In Turtle Bay the music was blaring. To be heard across the table, Alex’s friends and I had to shout at each other. Despite these difficulties to have a conversation, they were all very nice and it was good to finally get the chance to meet them.
On Sunday, we made the long drive back to Andover. At Alex’s we had a lazy afternoon, exhausted from the weekends travelling. Mum picked me up in the morning and I have been catching up on rest since then.
9pm, Thursday 6th September
Physio today was great. The past four months have had an overhanging fear of my ankles not coming back. In that scenario, I would never be able to participate in many of the sports I once loved and be limited to wearing ankle supporting splints for the rest of my life.
So, when in physio today, my ankles showed a significant progress. I was told that this little movement right here is an indicator that the ankles should come back almost completely! It is funny how such a spall movement, can make such a major milestone. After all, the movement I have is nothing that can help my walking today, but the visible progress in moving my foot and toes side to side and up and down without any external forces is an indicator of something more. The improvement signals that some of the nerves are beginning to heal, reaching the ankle and foot region. This improvement is an indicator that in time, my ankle is likely to come back. Thus, removing the agonising uncertainty that has been looming over my family and I in recent times.
When I was told what this little movement meant by the physiotherapists, my eyes welled up with relief. It’s the news I needed to hear.
2:30pm, Sunday 9th September
Today at 22:35, Alex flies to Australia.
On Friday, we had our last night together. Our last opportunity to be one on one without a screen and a nine-hour time-zone separating us. So, despite getting to bed late that night, we talked for another hour, saying all the things we knew would be hard to say by phone.
Last week, Alex had joked about getting matching dinosaur onesies for Aus. Purely by coincidence, I had a pair of dinosaur onesies that a friend and I had bought for a party long ago. So, in the attempt of being really, really romantic, I lay each of the onesies out on the bed for us to wear for breakfast. We looked amazing! But, because we had risen late, breakfast was short lived. Alex was due to leave soon and went back upstairs to shower and dress in a more responsible outfit.
I didn’t re-enter my room for a nap until late afternoon for I had friends over. When my friends left, exhausted I climbed back upstairs. Entering my room, I was hit by a ghosted mist of perfume. Laid out on the bed, as if she had vanished, was the dinosaur onesie she’d been wearing. The onesie smelt of her. I missed her already.
In two months, I will join her out in Sydney. Those two months we will be linked by her smell on the onesie and the occasional video call. I will miss her but I have something great to look forward to. On the 9th November, we will reunite.