Happy New Year.
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch over the past few months. We have continued to receive some wonderful emails and letters. Everyone has their own story, and we feel very privileged that many people who have contacted us have felt comfortable to share their experiences.
Christmas for Matthew and Diane, unbelievably, was eventful and involved more hospital as Luke fractured his skull on Christmas Eve after fainting onto a marble floor at Christmas Mass. The good news is that he has a non-displaced fracture on the side of his head that will heal itself in time. The bad news is that he’s banned from contact sport such as rugby (although this is possibly to his parents’ relief) for six months. This includes his beloved cricket, but he has now a good excuse to sit and watch cricket on television. It was quite a shock to those who were there, including the kids involved, and we are so incredibly grateful to everyone for their assistance on the day. While we can laugh it off now as one of those life experiences, at the time, it was a big shock and we know Luke was very lucky.
Luke decided that hospital isn’t as much fun when you’re the patient, but we did get to experience the wonderful new Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane which is a reminder of how amazing our health care system actually is. His time was also made much more enjoyable thanks to visits from cousins and friends.
Christmas Day for the family was therefore spent at Luke’s bedside. Emily, who has had a lifelong fear of shopping centre Santas, actually seemed to feel very comfortable with Lady Cilento’s Santa who visited the kids and distributed presents. We think it’s because she’s more comfortable in a hospital than in a shopping centre, having spent a quarter of her life to date visiting or around hospital wards. Emily also enjoyed meeting the Queensland Fire and Rescue personnel (or ‘firemen’) who accompanied Santa on his visit.
Prior to Christmas, Matthew’s progress had been going slowly because his new arms won’t be delivered until the end of January. We did, however, manage to kit him out so he could swim in the pool.
The upper arm flippers are Vici swim hands attached to PVC piping than can slip over Matthew’s arm bolts. They are a ‘Dad’ invention and work very well to keep Matthew afloat in the pool. Leg flippers were the result of work between Matthew and his team of prosthetists to work out how to join the flippers to his leg bolts.
The flipper set allowed Matthew to swim unassisted for the first time, although he still needs assistance to get into and out of the pool.
The flippers have made a difference to Matthew who can now party with the kids in the pool, and they have just had their first real holiday in a couple of years at the Sunshine Coast. Those of you who have read Will to Live would have read about the trip to Caloundra. With time comes progress, and this time around, life is much easier thanks to equipment, experience, and the continued support of friends and family. Matthew had his first experience of a beach wheelchair at Currimundi Lakes, and had a fantastic opportunity to meet Cliff Hargreaves who has worked hard in the local community to improve the life of amputees. Ironically, Matthew was wheeling through Cliff Hargreaves Park when Cliff spotted him. They had a great time catching up and sharing stories, and Cliff showed Matthew and Diane tips about how to best enjoy the area at the park. Matthew learned that beach wheelchairs float, so he had a unique ‘out of water’ experience. There were lots and lots of offers of help from lots of people Matthew and Diane had never met to get around the park and wheel the chair up and down sand-dunes, for which they were very thankful.
The future brings with it Emily’s first year of school, and Matthew’s new arms (hopefully). The best of wishes to everyone for your new year plans. We hope you have had a wonderful and less eventful Christmas and start to 2015. Overall, as always, life’s good.