Progress Report (Oops – belated) – 20 January 2013

Sorry. I neglected to upload this at the time, as I (Kate) was mid-move, but here is an update from Rachel as at 20 January. It was a big one, too – read on!

Happy New Year to you all.  We hope you all had a safe and happy break, and have found a nice place to keep cool this summer.

After their week up the coast and the last update, Matthew and Diane returned to their home with the kids – all delighted to be away from rehab and able to spend some private and quiet time together.  A carer has been assisting for a few hours each day and this has made the experience manageable despite a lot of modifications still required to happen at the house.  Thanks to school holidays, the ability to camp downstairs as a family and Diane’s never ending energy, the time has been very special for all.

We had a truly delightful Christmas, ever grateful and delighted to be able to celebrate together.  For those who have seen the blog, you saw that we had a lovely time in the pool, and Matthew’s boys bought Matthew a slip n slide for Christmas.  We did debate whether to use it on the hill at the front of the house, however decided that our neighbours may not understand us throwing a man without arms and legs down the hill – so in order to avoid police we set it up in the backyard.  A lot of laughs and fun was had.  In fact, strangely the day felt very normal for us all.

All has been quiet and holidays have been very enjoyable – Kate and Jason have finally relocated, Maeve and Joshi have had sleepovers with Na and Papa and the family is together again after many years in separate cities.

On Thursday of last week a very big day for milestones in our family.  Lincoln, my little one finally achieved toilet training status with a poo in the loo.  And Matthew got his first set of legs…..the small and the big things in life reminding me of how strange this all is!  The narrative of the process (Matthews legs that is) was written by Luke (aged 9) as it happened and emailed to the family shortly afterwards….

“Matthew’s legs

Today we are at Goodwill Orthopaedics, Brisbane. The ladies at the reception welcomed us with tea, coffee and biscuits. Matthew’s legs are about half a metre long from the from top of the sockets to the heel. They start by ling him down and testing the legs into his stumps. Then they put a rubber socket around the two legs and put the leg on. Next the Goodwill Orthopaedics make shore that the leg are all right so they stand him up with to men each side so Matthew doesn’t topple over wile one checks the legs are perfect. Meanwhile Diane is taking photos. Matthew wants to lean backwards so they spin the feet 180%to the right ( a special feature that only his ankle can do. )(Don’t try this at home.) Then they went away to get a new fitting for the leg and put it on. Next the Goodwill Orthopaedics go and  take of a bit off Matthew’s leg. They took off a bit of his leg so he can take his first step so he took his first step.”

The sensation of being on legs was quite liberating and moving, as well as a huge sense of relief for him as his hip appeared to cope with the pressure.  His concern over whether he could even bear weight on his right leg has been haunting him for a while.  The pain is tough to bear, but not as tough as he is.

Matthew returned to rehab on Thursday afternoon, reluctant to leave the family home but excited at the prospect of mobility and freedom in a different sense, and all  the hardwork that this will require.  Luckily it is school holidays and the kids are taking turns for sleepovers at rehab with Matthew until routine is required to kick back in.   This will help them settle in however after school starts, we will need visitors ‘back in the house’ to help keep him distracted and connected with the outside world.  Will be in touch with best days etc, else just ring Matthew on his mobile if you have it.  If not, let me know and will give you his contact #.

On Friday afternoon, the official rehab team met Matthew in the gym to meet the new legs and start looking at how they fit, what exercises need to happen etc and have a discussion.  Well, a lot of the family needed to be introduced to the new members of our brood – so we rocked up too!  Chaos ensued around him, but Matthew – who was simply supposed to stand and see how it felt, decided to walk.  His grit and determination is something to be seen; I actually was truly impressed by his ability to access that deep seeded stubbornness that  used to make him such a pain in the butt as a younger brother!  Am just kidding.  Inspiration is that sense of awe, shock and motivation that is instilled in you by the actions or behaviour of another, and I have been truly inspired by what I say on Friday afternoon.

And in the spirit of life goes on as well, one of the little one’s toilet training was forgotten and a large pool of wee was deposited on the carpets of the rehab behind the action of Matthew……little Britain style…..and as mums were running to clean etc, one of the physio’s said “at least it was a toddler, not a 90 year old this time”! LOL.

So, here they are.  Matthews first legs.

MBA_New Legs Jan 2012

And this is what he did with them on his first day….

DSC_0137 MBA_New Wheelchair Jan 2012 DSC_0161 DSC_0158

You will also note the new wheelchair – ferrari red and much more practical as it helps change levels (lowering up and down to chairs, floor etc) which is hugely helpful for the family and Diane.

We are very proud and know that the journey will be hard, but what a milestone.  We are delighted to share it.

Take care and look out for the next update. [And Kate promises to be more on the ball!]


Further to this, we’ve set Matt up with a Twitter account, which you’ll notice is linked to this website now, so you can keep track of his progress.

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