The past week brought Matthew back to earth, literally, and reminded him about the vulnerability that can come with being disabled. It also reminded him of the support and great community he is surrounded by. While wheeling the boys home from school, Matthew’s wheelchair overbalanced while going up a hill thanks to a little extra weight on the back(!).
The wheelchair did a backflip and pinned Will’s hand to the ground underneath the chair, while Matthew hung suspended upside down thanks to an excellent seatbelt. Luckily the incident occurred on a corner just up the road from school, so what seemed like a million parents came from everywhere to help and upright Matthew, the chair, and Will. Everyone and the chair was OK, but a good lesson learned about weight on the back of the chair and hills. Thanks to everyone who came to Matthew’s aid. No more wheelies for this bunch.
But now for the good news.
The season has turned and summer is almost upon us. With that comes the idea of Christmas, and for Matthew, that may bring the arrival of his new hands. He says it’s a bit like working at snail’s pace, but at least it is forward. He has been increasing the weight on his training prostheses (currently at 1.35 kilograms per arm, up from a starting weight of 50 grams, and increasing at 100 grams per week). When the weight he can carry/lift on these is 1.45 kilos, he won’t be able to fit any more weight onto the prostheses, and he will need to move to the next phase, which is longer arms with bionic hands. This will include a manual elbow and fixed wrist. It will allow him to grab and hold things, and maybe even scratch where he currently can’t reach.
The next stage offers the chance to do a bit more, although he will need a bit of help to get set up. However, once the hands are on, we’re hoping there’s a chance for Matthew to help carve the roast on Christmas Day. Here’s a look at one of the hands Matthew is looking at.
With the help of his prosthetics and osseointegration teams, Matthew has been given great information. He has one more hand to trial before he makes his decision. Once he has the new hand/s, he will need to build weight again before he can put on the motorised elbow and wrist units. He says it still feels weird to go ‘arm shopping’.
Recently there was some exciting news from the team in Sweden who developed the osseointegration technology in Matthew’s arms. They successfully directly connected the prosthetic to a patient’s nerves and the outcomes after a year seem successful. This is something that may not be available to Matthew for a few years, but it’s great to know what is out there. Here are a few links:
http://www.svt.se/nyheter/vetenskap/svensk-forst-i-varlden-med-robotarm [This one’s in Swedish but you get the picture.]
While Matthew doesn’t want to get too excited, he figures any slight improvement will be a good thing. His progress is being supported by lots of dedicated people in a variety of fields, who seem to be enjoying the opportunity to work on something so unique and we are all in turn buoyed by their enthusiasm and feel lucky to be in great hands (excuse the pun).
So there is progress, and we will keep you posted.
I just finished your book, I couldn’t put it down and read it in two days time. Mathew & Diane, you both have amazing souls, and your story has truly blessed me! Thanks for sharing your journey. I pray God’s continued blessings to your entire family. Such an inspiration!
Thank you for your lovely words. They mean a lot.
Best wishes for the forthcoming festive season.
Kind regards, Kate (on behalf of Matthew, Diane, and ‘the crew’).
Hello to the Ames family,
I wanted to write and wish you and yours a wonderful family Christmas. May the year 2015 treat you very kindly and I hope your personal goals will not only be met but exceeded.
I’ve just read your book which was both hugely inspiring and poignant. I think of you and send positive thoughts to you all very often (my version of prayers).
I love reading your updates through the blog.
With kindest regards,
Liz Hope (ex Origin)
Thank you for your kind thoughts. I’ll be putting another update up soon, and really glad to hear you got something out of the book. Best wishes from us all for your own Christmas plans.
All the best, Kate.
hi I am nearly through your book matthew you are a true hero and kate your a legend for making the right choice I would do the same for my husband my rock merry Christmas to you all xx kind regards lisa
Hi Lisa. Thank you for the feedback. We’ve had a few people say they wouldn’t have made the same choice but upon reflection and hearing about Matthew’s progress, have changed their minds. Everyone’s different, and no choice is right or wrong, but for us it was the right one and everyday reinforces this with the possibilities that lie ahead. Best wishes for the start of the year and kind regards, Kate.
Hi, I just read your book and like Pamela I read it in just two days- I couldn’t put it down and have now passed it on to my sister! I found your story amazing and I think you are all, Matthew, Diane and the children are such an inspiration. It sounds like you have a wonderful network of friends and family which is great. Your positivity throughout the book was amazing, especially during a time when most people would have been inclined to give up. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with each other and I wish you all the best in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your story xoxo
Hi Jenny. Thank you so much for the feedback. Yes, the relationship between Matthew and Diane is very special. We are really glad to hear you appreciated our sharing of the story, and wish you the best for a great start to 2015. Kind regards, Kate.
Hello to Matthew, Diane & the entire Ames family,
I just finished your book that I received for Christmas. It is an amazing story. Matthew you are such an inspiration. It must take incredible courage to do what you do, day after day.
Diane you sound like a warm & beautiful soul & the great strength behind Matthew’s ongoing recovery.
Together you have created sensitive & caring children. God bless your family & continue to give you the strength to achieve your goals .
Hi Lyn. Thank you so much for the feedback and for making contact. Diane and Matthew read all the comments on the blog and through email, and take strength from everyone’s ongoing support. Enjoy the start to 2015 and best wishes, Kate.