Life without Limits #4 (The learning years.)

To be fair, life was not a bed of Roses.. Many things that were simply taken for granted by most people, became missions in their own right. For eg; a simple task, such as showering had to be planned… In fact the whole bathroom ablutions process had to be adapted.. I just needed to be able to work this out for myself my own way. Pride, yes, I guess there was pride. It was something I needed to to on my own…My wife was a nurse and it would not have bothered her in the slightest, but me, well I needed to be able to conquer it all alone. I did this and managed just fine in the little flat that we had.. Out and about was different. Remember, this was now 1974 and we had not yet embraced disability per se. It would be a few more years before equal rights and the rights of those with disabilities were recognised. I battled on..

Elton John was to appear at Western Springs Stadium on Feb 28th and  come hell or high water, I was going to be there.. I had no Idea how this was going to happen but it WAS going to happen. Ruth my wife was busy with her nursing career and as I was still at home, I had plenty of time to organise this. First call was to the promoter. Much easier to access in those days.. I explained that I had recently had an accident and had lost both my legs above the knee.. The young lady I spoke to was one of the promoters PA’s and from memory, it was through the Auckland City Council as they were administrators of the stadium. So… I explained the situation and she remembered my photo in the New Zealand Herald..(I was married in the day room of Ward 7, in the Auckland Hospital) The photo was spread all over the news. Well, to cut a long story short, she organised the transport to the stadium..An ambulance would pick us up, take us into the ground, front row, and collect us after the concert. Nothing short of magic. I had just proved that nothing was impossible…But I knew that already!

Throughout the following months, I learned a number of things… Don’t rely too heavily on others.. Learn patience, learn to be tolerant of another person’s view and above all retain ones pride and dignity at all times. It was a “Baptism of Fire” but I did it. It took a while as people just wanted to feel sorry for me and the last thing I wanted was their pity. Other friends were getting married and we were invited to a few weddings, but the oversight was venues that were up stairs and just not accessible. This meant that a number of these events were impossible to get to. It was a matter of just sucking it up! I continued on with the rehab process for a while, but pretty soon became frustrated with the whole charade and in my opinion, those involved were just going through the process.

It was sometime during one of these meetings that it was suggested to me that I should attend the Artificial Limb Centre and look at getting prosthetics. I agreed and thus began another journey…an uncharted one at that…It was to become another part of the humiliating rehabilitation process.

I’m not one that wanted to be ‘fussed over’, but when I arrived there initially, I was the centre of attention. The staff could not believe that some one who had lost their legs and both above the knee, could be attending “Rehab” to be assessed for artificial legs in this short time.. Well, here I was and I had to meet with the Dr in charge… Pipe smoking Mr Geoff Lamb. I liked him as he was straight to the point, no pussy-footing around. His main concern was being able to fit a prosthetic leg to the remainder of my right stump. They called it a “Hind Quarter” amputation and this type of procedure was a rarity back in those days. Still, I was up for the challenge, pigheadedness and all. Many people had concerns…First I would have to go through the stage of hardening my still very tender and healing stumps..

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