How far we’ve come

As most of you would be aware, this weekend marks the one year anniversary of Matthew’s amputations. It’s a milestone in that for some of us, it’s the point of moving on. All those ‘first time since’ moments, such as birthdays and anniversaries, have passed, and it’s been a good opportunity to reflect on how much has changed in our lives, and for the better.

Tomorrow (Saturday 15 June), an article will be published in the Q Weekend, the magazine lift-out in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper. Written by me (Kate), it’s a story familiar to those who have followed the story from its early days, but will introduce Matthew to a new group of people. The opportunity for me to write the story allowed us to tell the story from our perspective, but it also privileged my view of events as the author. It’s important to acknowledge Rachel, whom most of you would know as the backbone of the operation, our parents, and Diane’s sister Jenny and wider family, and the (literally) hundreds of friends, extended family, medical staff and others who have been part of the journey. There were only so many words, so inclusion and acknowledgment of everyone is impossible, but you are all important.

Taking the step to telling Matthew’s story publicly in this way is a big one. Questions about what we will hope to achieve and what the consequences will be were discussed before we agreed to proceed. There’s really only one motivating factor, which is that the children are able to go out with their father, and instead of people staring at him and wondering who he is, which they do now, people will say, ‘Oh, that’s that guy we read about’. Matthew doesn’t care about people who stare, but it’s an important distinction for the children. Time will tell if the story makes a difference.

We were going through the photo archives, and found some early photos that highlight just how far Matthew has come in actually such a short period of time given how ill he was. Most of these haven’t been previously published. It’s actually easy to forget, when things are going so well, how close we came to losing him, and how precious life is. Every minute of every day, someone somewhere is struggling with similar tragedy. Matthew’s is only one story, but for those of us who know him, he is happy to be the great leveller and reminder of what’s important.

One of Matthew's aims was to remove one wire at a time. You can understand why!

One of Matthew’s aims was to remove one wire at a time. You can understand why!

Luke assists with nursing Matthew. Emily is supervising.

Luke assists with nursing Matthew. Emily is supervising.

Ben showing Matthew his artwork from school. Afternoon visits to ICU and then rehab were part of the routine for nine months.

Ben showing Matthew his artwork from school. Afternoon visits to ICU and then rehab were part of the routine for nine months.

In the early days, Matthew battled an ongoing infection in his eye. His retina later detached, requiring an operation. Clearly uncomfortable, his attitude at the time was an indicator of that to come.

In the early days, Matthew battled an ongoing infection in his eye. His retina later detached, requiring an operation. Clearly uncomfortable, his attitude at the time was an indicator of that to come.

Rachel, Dad (Roy), and Emily with Matthew on the balcony. It was his first day outside.

Rachel, Dad (Roy), and Emily with Matthew on the balcony. It was his first day outside.

Emily with Matthew on the balcony. She was stroking him, and just so glad to have him back.

Emily with Matthew on the balcony. She was stroking him, and just so glad to have him back.

Luke assists with nursing Matthew. Emily is supervising.

Luke assists with nursing Matthew. Emily is supervising.

Ben showing Matthew his artwork from school. Afternoon visits to ICU and then rehab were part of the routine for nine months.

Ben showing Matthew his artwork from school. Afternoon visits to ICU and then rehab were part of the routine for nine months.

In the early days, Matthew battled an ongoing infection in his eye. His retina later detached, requiring an operation. Clearly uncomfortable, his attitude at the time was an indicator of that to come.

In the early days, Matthew battled an ongoing infection in his eye. His retina later detached, requiring an operation. Clearly uncomfortable, his attitude at the time was an indicator of that to come.

Emily with Matthew on the balcony. She was stroking him, and just so glad to have him back.

Emily with Matthew on the balcony. She was stroking him, and just so glad to have him back.

Diane, Will, Matthew, Emily, and Ben, on the balcony.

Diane, Will, Matthew, Emily, and Ben, on the balcony.

Rachel's our organiser. Here she is with Matthew, who is modelling one of the t-shirts she ordered early on in the piece to set the tone.

Rachel’s our organiser. Here she is with Matthew, who is modelling one of the t-shirts she ordered early on in the piece to set the tone.

Matthew pushed hard to come off the feeding tubes and ventilator. He had to learn to eat again after damage to his tongue, and 'lost a bit of condition' in the process. It meant, however, that he could talk, which was important.

Matthew pushed hard to come off the feeding tubes and ventilator. He had to learn to eat again after damage to his tongue, and ‘lost a bit of condition’ in the process. It meant, however, that he could talk, which was important.

The start of the road to independence with a new wheelchair.

The start of the road to independence with a new wheelchair.

Cups of coffee are good, even through a straw.

Cups of coffee are good, even through a straw.

Matthew with Dad. This was taken at Matthew's first trip home as a surprise for two hours for Luke's birthday.

Matthew with Dad. This was taken at Matthew’s first trip home as a surprise for two hours for Luke’s birthday.

One for Dad, one for me. Emily has a go at feeding Matthew on his trip home for Luke's birthday.

One for Dad, one for me. Emily has a go at feeding Matthew on his trip home for Luke’s birthday.

Jacqui (Wright, Matthew's physiotherapist) gets Matthew ready to test pressure on his stumps for the first time.

Jacqui (Wright, Matthew’s physiotherapist) gets Matthew ready to test pressure on his stumps for the first time.

There are always upsides, including built-in transport for the boys on a day trip to Australia Zoo in November.

There are always upsides, including built-in transport for the boys on a day trip to Australia Zoo in November.

It took a few goes to find a vest that would enable Matthew to float. He still needs someone to hold him up, and Di is very happy to oblige.

It took a few attempts to find a vest that would enable Matthew to float. He still needs someone to hold him up, and Di is very happy to oblige. This is one of those ‘Romeo and Juliet’ photos – quite common with these two!

That’s it for now. Onwards and upwards :).

16 responses to “How far we’ve come

  1. This exposure will be wonderful and positive for the children and Diane and Matthew. It is obvious that the family are so very proud of Matthew and his journey now they can see how the community are proud also.
    Stay strong and proud.
    Vicki

  2. Inspiring and insightful. The strength of your whole family is something to be proud of. I often speak of your family’s journey to my family. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. Such an inspirational story! Read your story in the Courier Mail this morning and wish you all the very best in your continued recovery.

  4. Matthew all I can say is congratulations. You are a true inspiration to able bodied people as well as injured or disabled people. Your story was compelling but most of all inspiring and courageous. I wish you a lifetime of happiness with your beautiful family. Hold your head up high and love life. x
    Pathrina Watson

  5. Matthew, you and your gorgeous family are an inspiration to us all. Glad to see you’re able to have a laugh and maintain a healthy perspective through an ordeal which many of us would struggle to stay positive.
    All the best for the future. Your kids are so lucky to have such a loving Dad.

  6. Matthew we had been kept updated by Belinda and have thought about you and the family a lot over the past year. What an incredible person you are, the article was truly inspiring. We wish you all the very best for the future and hope your progress continues in the same remarkeable way. Love to you, Diane and all the family from Polly, Evan, Tom and Cara xxxx

  7. Thank you for deciding to share your story and the link to this blog. I am certain that many people will be encouraged and challenged by Matthew’s attitude and by your entire family rallying their support. That Matthew decided not to entertain self-pity is an important part of his story. No matter what we face in life, if we can avoid that blackness of self-pity we can find ways to move forward and truly live with a joy not dependant on circumstance.
    Thank you again. 🙂

  8. Inspiring story – thank you for sharing and best wishes for the future to an obviously loving family.

  9. Really enjoyed the story on the website. It was brought to my attention by one of my medical classmates who suggested that knowing about the personal side of streptococcus makes it easier to remember the bacteria. I am really glad he posted it up for us to read your story.

    On a personal note, my stresses associated with mid year exams have been put into perspective and (on a professional note) when I meet someone like Matthew in the future I will think of him.
    Thanks.
    Justin (Perth WA)

  10. Best wishes and prayers to an amazing man, husband and father. What a truly wonderful family to remind us all of how precious life is. Looking forward to following your journey as you create the future for you and your family. Thanks.
    Lorraine (Toowoomba)

  11. Thank you for sharing your story with us, obviously a big decision for you all. You have been in my thoughts non stop since I read the article this morning. Already such an inspiration, I know I can never truly experience a bad day from now on. I thank you and wish you all the very best with your recovery, stay strong. Mary

  12. Keep up the great work! being a therapist, i understand the great effort and strength needed to keep going! Stay strong!
    Best wishes to you and your family!

  13. Hi Mathew,

    I just had to contact you. You are AMAZING as is your stoic beautiful family!!!

    I’m an STSSNF survivor to. I’ve been searching for someone that had also lived. I managed to keep my limbs, my gangrene was removed from my stomach area. And how great full I am for that.
    Medically aside from the main differences, my story of STSSNF is extremely similar. I been looking for someone who can relate to what having this “Superbug” brings to ones life!!

    I’m not making a lot of sense right now because I’ve just finished reading about your story and can barely stop crying!! You are inspirational!! Truly inspirational!!!

    I know your busy and time poor but I would love to hear from you.

    Thank you
    Mel :-)))))))))))))))))))))

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