As Noah, my support worker, and I strolled earlier today, we got into a conversation about how drastically life changes when you move at a very slow pace. For Noah, this isn’t a choice; he needs to match my walking speed. Although I’ve become more independent in my walking, I still proceed at a rather leisurely pace. What might have previously taken 5 minutes to walk can end up taking close to 30.

During our morning commute, we found ourselves being passed by a whirlwind of people in a rush, most of them absorbed in their mobile phones. When you walk at a snail’s pace, you become acutely aware of the bustling world around you.

This contrast was especially pronounced as we traversed the Devonshire Street tunnel. While it was past the peak rush hour before 9 a.m., there were still plenty of hurried commuters.

In the past, my routine through this tunnel involved ordering a coffee via a mobile app at the tunnel’s entrance, which would be ready for me by the time I reached the exit. What would normally take two or three minutes ended up consuming nearly twenty. In the future, I’ll have to be more discerning about when and if I use the app, as it proved just as convenient to order my coffee face to face, without the “time-saving” app.

On the flip side, moving slowly can lead to unexpected interactions. When people have approached me for money, I had little choice but to engage in a brief conversation, whereas in the past, I might have quickly responded with, “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.” The response remains the same, but it takes a bit longer to express it to them. However, I’ve noticed that fewer people ask me for money, possibly assuming I’m in a dire situation due to my amputation, prosthetic leg, and crutches.

As I strolled down the street in the afternoon, I found myself in a lengthy conversation with a man about my situation, hoping he would eventually move on. He finally got the hint and bid me farewell with a heartfelt “God bless you.”

Later, on a bus, another man shared his story of breaking both legs in a car accident. Normally, I wouldn’t have engaged with a stranger on a bus, but today was different. He marveled at my ability to get around, remarking that when he was injured, he spent his days in bed, feeling despondent.

The words “remarkable” and “inspiring” have been used quite frequently in recent months to describe my situation, but they don’t sit comfortably with me. I’ve started telling people, “I’m just very determined.” While there have been moments when I’ve felt overwhelmed, I’ve been trying to maintain a positive outlook.

I received a message this week from a close relative who is nearly 90 years old, and it deeply touched me.

In March this year my daughters little cavoodle scratched me. Not a big wound. I left it a bit long to go to emergency. The smell was dreadful. Went to Camden emergency and the Dr said that is a dog bite. I was adamant it was scratch. Anyhow, went to Liverpool Hospital I thought was overnight for debridement of wound. It took 3 weeks to clean up infection and 3 more debridements and was mentioned I had to have a skin graft and this infection could attack the graft. Anyhow, I was very lucky not to be in your predicament. My granddaughter in law was a nurse and said this particular infection is very hard to control. I don’t think I would have been as strong as you if it happened. I was so very lucky James. You are my inspiration. I have quite a hole in my leg and they nicked a nerve doing the graft operation so half my right foot is numb, but I was a lucky one.

I’m glad that I’ve been able to make such an impact, though unexpectedly. Positivity really does rub off.

Everything that’s happened in the last few months has also (hopefully) made me more thoughtful and thankful.

Today, I had to return to the hospital for the “Amputees Clinic,” where various members of my rehabilitation team came together to assess my progress. The prognosis was positive. My ability to walk independently has improved, and my specialist doctor recommended that I can now use just one crutch when walking outdoors. He did express some concern about the possibility of ingrown hairs and commented on my leg hair. Personally, I’ve never thought of myself as particularly hairy, but due to the surgery, I have an unusual concentration of body hair in one area. We discussed various options, including laser removal, but decided that vigilant monitoring and occasional trimming would suffice. He also informed me that I don’t need to return to the “Amputees Clinic” until February, which is a significant change from the monthly visits.

Feeling a bit celebratory, I decided to treat myself tonight.

Sashimi from Ichibang on Crown Street, Surry Hills

After months of hospital and home-cooked meals or dinners with friends, I ventured down the street on my own, using just one crutch, and enjoyed some sashimi and gyoza. There was much to celebrate at my “party for one.”

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2 thoughts on “Party For One

  1. I will mention it down the track but I didn’t notice nearly as many people in Sydney walking down the street while staring at their phone in one hand and a coffee cup in the other.

    Perhaps a waxing salon is needed. You may as well go the whole hog while you are there.

    1. Have never been a fan of the waxed/shaved look on men. I remember back in the 90s almost every gay man in Sydney was shaving his legs. Call me old fashioned, but I like my blokes to look like blokes.

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