Blog 235 Normality resumes Aug – Sep 2012


One of my first outings after getting out of the Epworth hospital was to attend the Guzzi club meeting and social sip held the first and last Wednesday of every month at the Leinster Arms Hotel in town. I thought my angle parking out the front was quite good for a learner.

It is an old pub and technically not wheelchair friendly but there were enough determined bodies that it was going to fit through the door one way or another. I still had to stay off the drink for healing reasons which was just as well as I definitely couldn’t get in the toilets anyway. At this meeting they announced the new president Mish (Michelle) and new vice pres Mark.

In the photo that’s Neil (vice pres) and Craig (pres) handing the reins over to Mish (new pres) and Mark (new vice pres) Bronnie at the end is the club secretary. The change of committee members meant we had something to look forward in the shape of the Old/New BBQ in a few weeks time to celebrate the change in leadership. Here is a photo of Nancy, Me (Karen), Mish and Jan, it looks like a candidate for a caption competition but nothing would be as funny as what Mish really said!

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We enjoyed getting out to explore the local area, I had a cunning slide board to transfer from one chair to another. Here is me showing the slide board in action in the car. On one trip we found where gold was first discovered in Victoria in June 1851 at Fourth Hill, Warrandyte. This was a significant find as gold was already being mined in NSW and it stopped the steady stream of prospectors leaving the state in their droves. This discovery was soon surpassed by Ballarat and Bendigo and further discoveries all over the state of Victoria. It was the making of Melbourne as the population grew from just 10,000 in 1840 to 123,000 in 1854.

For a number of years the gold output from Victoria alone was greater than in any other country in the world with the exception of the more extensive fields of California. Victoria’s greatest yield for one year was in 1856, when 3,053,744 ounces of gold were won from the diggings. I think we were also probably the first wheelchair to navigate this route and as we were heading down the steep hill and steps to the platform I did think for a moment I was going to end up in the river!

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Although Kev got our bike back on the road after barely a month it still needed a fair bit of fettling, most of the brunt of the accident was absorbed by the panniers and racking which is what it was designed to do and indeed although hard to comprehend it certainly seemed to save us from worse injuries. It also ensured the core of the bike was undamaged.

Kev was keen to get everything fixed up properly and our bike out on the road again and I joined him when he was working on it in the garage at Craig and Paula’s setting up my office outside their house. Molly was very unsure about the strange wheelchair but as you see Ted was not fazed by it at all. They were good company for me and it was good for me to get out and about. Ted got very excited one day when we turned up with a cooked chicken for our lunch, he jumped on my lap in the car and was licking his lips.

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Teddy had his own saga unfurling if you look closely at the photo when he’s lying on his back, on his rear paw you can see a pink bit of flesh protruding through the pad that refused to heal. After a trip to the vets it was confirmed that it was a very aggressive cancer and the only real option was amputation. Paula and Craig had an agonising few days to make a decision.

Enter Teddy the tripod or unsteady Teddy as he was temporarily nick named. Teddy took the loss of his leg all in his stride and entered a phase of rehabilitation similar to mine, Molly however freaked out when she saw him and took days to be in the same room as him. When Teddy eventually got to go for walks again Molly would only walk on the good leg side. Teddy’s rehabilitation has taken time but we are pleased he is back to his normal self now and Molly and he are good friends again.

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Most of the time Kev was karting me to and fro from various appointments and we had ingenious ways of carrying everything. When I had my electric chair Kev tested if to see if I would be able to get out of the pool room ok on my own. As you can see from the results it was quite easy to get it wrong and I wouldn’t be able to get off like Kev and put it back on the ramps. I did however manage the ramps and it opened up a whole new freedom of going outside on my own.

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Pierre was a motor mechanic by trade and had promised to work on Neil’s (Guzzi club ex pres) car, Kev opted to lend a hand as way of saying thank you for all their help. Here is the back of Neil, Kev and Pierre working on Neil’s Alfa Romeo. They took the whole engine and drivetrain out and successfully replaced the gearbox clutch and timing belt.

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The day of the old/new BBQ arrived and the weather looked a bit ominous, I was still unable to ride or walk so we went in the car. The rain stayed away and it was a huge success, a great chance for us to catch up with folks and the BBQ was great. At most of the club meets the Guzzi club provide food and drinks, it is one of the unique things they do as a club and works really well. We got a huge downpour on the way back and we were actually grateful for the car.

Photos – We like a good laugh and Andy is one of the funniest guys we have ever met. Bronnie poses with a willing volunteer. Keir dreaming of a new bike to add to his collection, Glendon in deep discussion with me (Karen), Mish realising just what being president means, Nancy, Keir and Pierre making me feel like one of the gang.

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Normal every day experiences were completely different in the wheelchair, my first attempt at washing up saw me having to place my feet in the cupboard to get close enough. I also drowned both me and the floor as all the water ran down my elbows. When both Seraphina and I were in the wheelchairs Kev had a job to push us both so I would push Seraphina with my crutches whilst Kev pushed me, we were ok until we came to corners or hills. Kev also found a few extra uses for the chair as a temporary barbers chair.

Pierre and Kev offered to rescue Seraphina’s car from the bodyshop as she still couldn’t drive due to her injuries and it was overdue for collection. Pierre took us via this great shop he knew which sold, serviced and restored Indians. Jim the owner came out of the workshop for a chat, he was a very friendly guy and had travelled a lot on Indians himself.

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For approximately a month I had been building the strength up in my legs by doing squats and walking the odd few steps taking half the weight on the crutches as I was only allowed 50% on each leg. A great day occurred on 17th September 2012 I was given the ok to walk normally with the help of crutches which I would gradually be able to wean myself off. This was my first real walk putting full weight through the legs leaving the hospital.

This was also my first ride on 23rd September 2012 on our bike just going in to town and back. I still had to wear my old jacket despite the few rips and scrapes it had sustained until we could raise enough funds to replace both our jackets but I was sporting my new crash helmet. Kev was using a borrowed helmet and jacket and we had our replacement kevlar “Neds” cargo pants that Andrea and Kenn had kindly donated.

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Barely a week later and in celebration of my birthday I was strong enough to be able to join the Guzzi club on their spring ride. Craig’s wife Paula was not joining us so Craig very kindly allowed us to use his Cali whilst he went on his Griso. It was a fabulous first ride out initially through China town before heading out to the country and stopping in Daylesford for lunch. We headed through Koala country although sadly we didn’t see any. I was grateful for the many cigarette or coffee stops as I needed to stretch my legs but I was really pleased with how little I ached the next day. It was also a huge emotional boost in my healing process.

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Next up – the Spaghetti rally

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