This time seven years ago, we were waiting for Matthew to return from surgery to remove his limbs. We had said our goodbyes, having been told it was unlikely he would survive. Yet as dusk fell, we were still hopeful. No news was good news. Some of us had gone to the local pub for dinner, knowing Matthew was in good hands and there was nothing more we could do.
We had argued for a chance of life. The children needed to know we had done everything. He needed the opportunity to see them grow up.
We believed he could cope with the choice we were asking him to live with. We knew we would be there as a family, and community, to support him.
It feels like a lifetime ago, and yesterday at the same time.
And aren’t we grateful.
Matthew has met many unexpected milestones, such as learning to drive his modified car. He can be seen around Brisbane on the sidelines cheering on one (or more) of the children playing sport. He serves on boards for organisations such as Hear and Say, and works closely with the government and other organisations to prevent sepsis happening to others. He also gives the odd speech and appears on stage every now and then.
This year, Matthew had the chance to catch up with Dr Tim McMeniman, the orthopaedic surgeon who led the team that saved his life. It was great moment to be able to reconnect. We know how difficult the decision to do the surgery was for the team involved.
He also spent heaps of time with Teddy, who came into the family a few years ago after he was not considered eligible for an assistance dog. Teddy’s favourite place is Matthew’s wheelchair platform.
He had the opportunity to teach Luke to drive on a farm, be there for Emily’s confirmation, go to the cricket with Will, and be by Ben’s bedside when he became ill. All the while, supported and supporting Diane.
Matthew and Diane finally went out for their anniversary dinner at the Rooftop Emporium this year – the one they missed out on seven years ago.
Below is a video that summarises Matthew’s view on adapting to his new life. Our sincere thanks to David Fagan who organised this for a speech at QUT.
The next milestone is a set of new legs that Matthew has been training for. These legs will have knees and will help him become taller. They present a whole new set of challenges, mainly not falling!
We’re conscious that this blog hasn’t been updated for a while, and that there may be questions people have about specific aspects of Matthew’s recovery and rehabilitation. We’re happy to continue the blog. If you have any specific questions (eg. bionics, training, technology), please feel free to post these in the comments. We’ll then focus on answering these in future blog updates.
In the meantime, we wouldn’t be where we are without the amazing support of community, friends, family, medical experts – the list is very long.
Quite simply, thank you.