Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Leaving Rehab and Mum and Dad Arriving

 I was discharged from rehab on 15th January 2011, exactly 5 weeks after my accident. On the drive home on of my careers couldn’t believe I had gone through Cavit in just over 4 weeks and told me that the average stay is around 3 months.   
I was really excited about going home and getting back on with my life. That evening we had organized a welcome home BBQ and invited all my mates from the hostel. It was a good turn out and a really good evening. Half way through I said a few words and thanked everyone for all they had done during my time in hospital and Cavit. Between them they had been fantastic - I had a visitor every day I was in hospital and for the first couple of weeks in rehab. Cavit used to say I was the most popular patient on campus as I had so many visitors. I can’t thank everyone enough. It made my day seeing them, they all made my recovery so much happier and pleasant and their visits really meant a lot to me. When bad things happen in your life you realize how kind people can be and appreciate the little things they do that make such a big difference.
On the Monday I went with Lee and Wayne to pick my car up from a garage on Waiheke Island. I let the guys borrow my car over Christmas and New Years and unfortunately the clutch died on them while they were spending Christmas on the Island. I thought that when I left Cavit, my recovery was nearly complete and I would be getting my life back together and doing normal everyday things in no time. This wasn’t the case and the three days I had been home had hit me hard. I enjoyed the day at Waiheke with Lee and Wayne but I was so tired and had to keep having rests to reenergize and get me through the day. The pace of the real world was hitting me hard!
On Tuesday Mum arrived from England. Before leaving she told me not to worry about picking her up from the airport and that she would get a taxi. When I told Hayley and Stacey about this, they weren’t having any of it and Hayley insisted on picking Mum up. I was really looking forward to seeing Mum but was hoping that she wouldn’t cry at the airport and luckily she didn’t. As they hadn’t seen me since the accident, Mum and Dad could only build a mental image of how I was doing from Cavit reports and how I sounded on the phone. Mum explained that Dad had told her to be strong and make sure she didn’t cry even if I had a limp or couldn’t tighten my lips properly and had a slight dribble. I done neither, so instead of crying Mum gave me her suitcase and let me take it back to the car.

Our first picture togther.

It was great seeing her again and that evening we jut caught up. The next day I took Mum to an Internet café so she could let everyone know that she’d arrived and showed her the Viaduct. The Viaduct was re-vamped for the America’s Cup in 2000 and is now one of the main places in Auckland to eat, grab a coffee or have a drink. All the restaurants, bars and café’s sit on the waters edge around the harbour. The place is full with super yachts, pleasure yachts and racing yachts and when the sun’s out it’s a great place to relax, unwind and look at all the wealth on display. The Viaducts had an impact on Mum for sure. She would often stop when we was in town to relax with a pot of tea.
Tommy really wanted to meet Mum and had organized dinner at the local curry house, Bollywood so everyone from the hostel could meet her.  Mum was also keen to meet everyone, in particular Hayley, Karen, Stacey and Tommy as she had lots contact with them in the first few weeks of my injury. Again it was a massive turnout and a very good evening. Bollywood make a nice curry but unfortunately with big tables the service is really slow. We didn’t get to eat until 8:30 and we booked our table for 7:00. Luckily I had, had a rest before leaving home but by the end of the night I was shattered and ready for bed. 

Meal at Bollywood
I took Mum to Cavit so she could have a look at the place. She enjoyed looking around and meeting everyone that was involved in my rehabilitation but it made her sad seeing how bad some people’s injuries were. She said she was glad she went but was pleased to leave as being there made her think about what could have been.

Probably the best day that I spent with Mum was a Full Day Sailing trip that work runs. We spent the day on a Pride of Auckland yacht and sailed to Waiheke and back. Mum thoroughly enjoyed herself and loved the trip. She had a go at helming the yacht and being the skipper but you could tell by the look on her face she was nervous and not enjoying being in control. Sailing on the Waitemata Harbour is stunning, and allows you to take in with a lot of Auckland’s landmarks from the water. We were lucky with the weather and spent the afternoon in the sun, which makes sailing so much more of a pleasure. 
Sailing with Pride of Auckland

Before Mum came, I didn’t think having her around would make my life that much easier. I was very wrong! It’s was the little things she done that made a big difference like helping with the cooking and washing up, she took control when our washing machine brook and we had to use the launderette and she chased up my ACC case manager when she forgot to pay my bills. Mum also got my arse into gear and helped me find a GP, arrange a dentist appointment and get to an eye examination appointment. These appointments were necessary and I had to get them done to move forward with other aspects of my recovery. I hated having to go to them and I always felt grumpy and short tempered because I didn’t want to make the effort. I would have only done the important things if she wasn’t here and it would have taken me much longer.

In the three weeks that Mum lived with me before Dad arrived she got to experience Auckland life. Generally I wasn’t really up to much and got tired quickly. We still got out every day, done a few jobs and walked around but I could only last three or four hours before getting tired and needing to relax at home.  We had a few fun days out like a trip up the Sky Tower with Hayley and Karen, a day at Mission Bay with Jen, Niamh and Irish Tommy, a shopping spree on Queen Street and a day at Takapuna for Aisling’s Birthday. Unfortunately the weather was pretty hit and miss so we didn’t do many day trips, which was a shame.  
Looking down on the Viaduct from the Sky Tower

Mum told me that she planned on taking me home after their holiday but once she had meet my friends and seen the things I had going for me, she was happy for me to stay. She would have had a fight on her hands as I had no intention of going home - the idea hadn’t even entered my head. I wasn’t going to let my injury stop me from finishing what I’ve started and following through with what I wanted to achieve. Leaving would have filled my trip with bad memories and I would have felt as though I’d given up and left with my tail between my legs. When I looked back at my time in New Zealand, I would have just remembered my accident and not all the amazing things I’ve experienced and I didn’t want that.

Aisling's Birthday at Takapuna

Just before Dad arrived I felt the worse I’ve felt since the accident, possibly even my life. The lad’s friends from Ireland were staying with us and they were truly in holiday mode. During their stay they showed little respect for my injury and didn’t give my recovery a second thought. They would stay in the house till gone 1:30am before heading out into town while I was in the next room trying sleep. I really needed my sleep and if I didn’t get enough it totally ruined the following day. One Friday and Sunday night I only get 3 hours sleep and was in pieces by Monday.

I saw Peter getting out of bed in the middle of the afternoon and he asked how I was doing, I responded angrily and he muttered something under his breath. I’m normally quite good with my emotions but I lost the plot! I felt like punching and kicking a hole in the wall, so went outside to calm down.  I saw all their empty beer bottles on the table, this made me even angrier and I really had to stop myself from throwing the table over and smashing the bottles on the floor. I was really losing it and started hyperventilating.

Mum came round the corner and I told her that I had to get away from the house. I felt as if I was breaking down and could cry at any minute. All I wanted to do was sleep but my mind was raging, I was shaking and wanted to lash out. If I shut my eye’s the day light caused my eye lids to bounce on my eye balls. It felt good to rest them but the constant bouncing was so uncomfortable that I was better off with them open.

One of the Irish boys, Tommy came up to the launderette and said that he had heard that I wasn’t getting much sleep. I don’t think he wasn’t prepared for the answer he got. He looked very guilty and apologized. To his credit it took guts confronting the situation, it showed character and I respect him for it. He was the only one that ever had the guts to say anything, the others knew they were keeping me up but just looked sheepish, slopped away and never mentioned it.

I had wanted to wait until all my housemates were together before telling them how they were making me feel but after how I reacted to Peter, I couldn’t face all of them and remain calm. I decided just to talk to Jen and Niamh as they took the lease out on the house. When I got back, I had a chat with them and told them how I felt. The girls said they had no idea and looked very guilty and up set. I explained that I knew they are travelling and want to be able to relax in their home but I just couldn’t cope. I said that it must also be hard for them living with me and my injury and that I would move out if they had a problem with keeping the noise down. They told me not to be ridiculous and I could tell by their faces they were sincere and upset with how I was feeling. The girls have been great since my accident and really kind. For girls that have only known me a couple of weeks before my accident, they couldn’t have done any more, been kinder or spared more of their time so their reaction didn’t surprise me and I knew they meant what they said.

The sign worked, it was just too small
Dad arrived early morning on 8th February. He had told Mum that he wanted us to make signs for him as he had lost so much weight that he was worried we may not recognize him and leave him stranded at the airport. We made signs but Dad was disappointed they weren’t bigger, which is typical of him J Little did he know that I had wanted to wear the bright coloured wigs that we wore at Aisling’s Birthday so he should count himself lucky and be pleased with the small signs.

It was great to see Dad and both of them together. On the way home I had so much to say, my brain couldn’t process my thoughts quick enough and I was left feeling cloudy and worn out. Shortly after unpacking the luggage, Mum wanted to show Dad the Viaduct. She says it was for him but really she just wanted another excuse to go! After our coffee I took them both to my work so they could meet my manager, Alyson and the rest of the Explore NZ crew. I think this was a bit much for Dad after the flight as he was quite knackered and he probably just wanted to chill out.  In the evening we put had a BBQ at the house and made Dad the chef. I don’t think he minded but made out in a joking way that he did. On reflection Mum and I didn’t really take Dad’s jet lag into consideration and the poor guy hit the ground running. It was another good evening but the flight and an active day had taken its toll on Dad and by 8 o’clock he was falling asleep in his chair outside.

Mecca, Mum's favourite Viaduct café

Dad was only in Auckland for two days before we started our holiday. We had planned to visit Lynn and Gill in the Bay of Islands and spend a few days in Rotorua and the Coromandel. Lynn and Gill have been good friends with my Granny and Granddad for decades and Dad has known them since he was a kid. He hasn’t seen them for a good few years so was really looking forward to spending some time with them and seeing where they lived. He was surprised that Mum and I hadn’t visited sooner so I could rest up and recover. In hindsight this would have been a good idea but all I was thinking about was getting my life back to normal and as I’ve already mentioned, I thought it would have been easier than it was. 

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  1. Congrats on your successful recovery, Matt! Thankfully, you went through it for only 5 weeks, and not longer, which means that you did well. Also, you gotta thank your family and friends for the support they gave you, without them, the progress would be unbearable.