11am, Tuesday 18th December
At 5:10am this morning, Alex left to meet her family at the airport. They will be holidaying in Cairns for the week and will return for Christmas with me and my family at Pretty Beach on the Central Coast. I, also, am approaching the end of my time here in Sydney. I’m aware I haven’t posted much about my time here for I have found that when things are going well, it is harder to feel a need to write about them. But I am going to try by giving a summary of my time staying in the northern suburbia of Sydney with Alex.
Since my fall on the 13th November, much has happened. I was fortunate enough to recover almost fully in just three days. Being able to stretch out the nerves myself, and using nerve glides was the difference between this fall and the other falls I suffered back in March at the rehabilitation unit. Rebuilding confidence has taken a little longer.
In the end, Max did not buy the pickup truck he so desired due to the laws that apply to foreign drivers who have not held their licence for over a year.
Slowly, in the last month I have found myself able to do more in and out of the apartment. Cooking and cleaning have become easier and so has taking public transport. Below is the piece I wrote as made my first alone attempt travelling on public transport on the 30th November. I was making the journey to see Alex where she works for it was the one-year anniversary of our relationship together and we still don’t hate each-other.
I am travelling to see Chuffy at Golf in the City, the bar she works at. It’s my first time travelling alone since being struck down by GBS just over a year ago now.
As I waited for the bus, I was nervous. With sweaty palms I keep checking my phone for the route details.
I board the first bus with no difficulties. The passengers mainly consist of school kids lining the back of the bus and some of the courtesy seats. I sit in the last courtesy seat available.
The journey is fortunately easy, with the bus arriving on time and I have no trouble with catching the following bus. I get a little sickened by the swaying of the bus due to my ongoing vestibular problems, other than that, all is fine.
I sit next to an elderly lady who, despite me not able to understand a word she was saying, persisted to talk to me for the entire 30 min bus ride. By just nodding, smiling and occasionally raising my eyebrows was enough participation on my part to satisfy her. At our destination she wished our Sikh driver a merry Christmas and departed the bus.
I look forward to the day when travelling is easy and stress free once again. I never knew just how easy I had it when I was a strong, fit and healthy.
Throughout my time here in Sydney, I have undergone physio twice a week which has seen good progress in strength. Most notably with my ankles which, when sat and trying to push into a tippy toe position are now strong enough to raise the heel off the ground. We have also spent time building up strength in the legs through the cross trainer, leg press and treadmill. We did attempt running on the treadmill with the harness on, but with little power coming from of the ankles, I can’t get the launch required to bring my body air-bound and create space for the next stride. My core and arms are also coming on nicely but there is no certainty that my winging right scapular will return to normal. If not, it will leave a weakness in my right shoulder when lifting things. However, I am now able too lift my right arm above my head without help, something I couldn’t do 2 months ago. The return of the ankles is partly due to stimulation by standing between the parallel bars, shifting my weight and attempting to balance with my ankles alone. This is similar to many exercises we worked on back in the UK at Hobbs rehabilitation. I never knew just how much walking is reliant on the ankle movement and considering all the fears that the ankles would not return, it was probably a good thing at the time.
Michelle at Hobbs told me before I left for Australia, ‘I think to get away to the warmth is just what you need at this stage in your recovery and will give you the ability test yourself on sand, public transport and walking around town’. She was right. The warmth stops my hands from clawing up, the pools and beach are great for swimming and walking, and living in a city away from home has been fantastic for rehabilitation back to independence. I am not yet free to do what I like without careful planning but I am independent, and that is probably the greatest step to be made in any recovery.
As much as these blogs do take a little time out of my day, they also help me to realise the progress I’ve made. So, to that, I thank all those who read what I write for encouraging me to write.
So, thank you!
Much of my time at the moment is spent working on a book about my experiences. I am hoping that it’ll read similarly to either Touching the Void by Joe Simpson or 127-hours by Aron Ralston. So, if you like those books then hopefully you will love what I am trying to produce! I have finally completed the first draft of the first chapter and maybe, if you are lucky, in time I will post up a polished version of Chapter 1 on this platform to get some opinions and critiques from those who read my blogs (you).
But for now… hooroo (goodbye in rural Australian)
And a very, merry Christmas!