March 24 was a big day for me. This was the six week check up after the surgery. If all went well I would be able to walk again. The email I sent out that day says it all:
I thought they were only joking but apparently there is a huge pile of metal and screws in my knee.
Today was the end of the beginning for me – six weeks since surgery and the moment of truth when they x ray the joint and tell you if the articular surface is once again intact ie you can or can’t start walking again. I went into the doctor’s surgery on crutches with the brace on; left with the brace in the bag. No more brace. I walked on two legs for the first time in 2 months. The last place I walked to was the base of the cable car in Revelstoke. Seems a long time ago.
My trusted driver and radiology consultant Jon Attwater picked me up from the Mater and deposited me at my apartment. After fixing a classic Simpson Desert degustation sandwich (without pickles) he chauffeured me to Manly Pool. This was like coming home. All our kids learned to swim there .. Narelle Simpson was still coaching by the side of the pool and I haven’t been back for about 15 years. It was pouring rain and one of the pool attendants helped me in – sitting down. 30 laps later and I was feeling like a new man. The effortless rhythm and flawless stroke was still there! Hardly. I think I was channelling a young Murray Rose (Maybe only in my mind) Jan and Denise be afraid…be very afraid! There is nothing like swimming after a long break on a thundery day, in a deserted pool with the rain pelting into your back. It was magic. I also found I could walk half way up the pool and back without hanging onto anything and it made my leg feel alive again.
I can sleep tonight without a leg brace on for the first time in 9 weeks. I would like to go out and have a drink but I don’t drink so I celebrated by coming home after the swim and eating half a packet of chocolate coated peanuts. I didn’t feel a bit guilty. Don’t tell Alison.
Well Barry. .. the Palm Beach to Manly swim is only 8 months away and I need you to get fit. Into the pool with you mate and begin to shake off the lazy trainer tag.
Thanks for all your help, support, visits, phone calls and meals over the past two months. I couldn’t have done it on my own. If you are in the water and feel someone coming up fast on the outside it will be me.”