Well, I’m happy to report that 27 hours, 3 planes, and 14 time zones later, we arrived in safely in Australia! We are staying in an Airbnb apartment a half hour north of Sydney, in Macquarie Park. Our apartment is a 10 minute walk from where Clara and her mother Kate are staying, with the hospital being a few minutes beyond that. It’s terribly convenient, and we are grateful for the proximity, along with our host’s hospitality (see sign below.)
A quote from the movie “Sisters” (which I watched in transit across the Pacific Ocean) entered my mind when I read our host’s welcoming letter. The quote goes,”A house is a building. A home is a feeling.” His letter starts with the phrase “Welcome Home” and indeed, somehow, it does feel as if we are home…being here feels natural and (almost) effortless. Much of our journey has aligned in our favour, which has reinforced our purpose to document Clara’s experience here.
Macquarie Park – Our apartment is on the far right, Clara’s across from the Centre; and the hospital up the hill on the far left.
So far, we have assimilated into Australian culture without much trouble. It is quite diverse, which we find refreshing – it’s fun to observe folks from various backgrounds all cumulated in the same area. We are located in a rather affluent area, with one of the largest and most elegant malls we have ever seen. Macquarie Centre (complete with skating rink!) features stores and cuisine as varied as its occupants, a continuous flow of well-dressed people following their own interesting agendas. We have found the food alluring, healthy, and of excellent quality (see meal below.)
My lunch at Inlakesh Living Foods, a combined natural food store and restaurant. Pumpkin and zucchini sandwich on gluten free flatbread and sweet potato chips – very different, very good 😉
The day after our arrival, we were invited by Clara’s friend Darren, a resident of Western Australia, to a tour on the Darling Harbour RiverCat ferry, with a ferry change at Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) and ending up at Manly Beach.
Clara and I enjoying the ferry breeze ♥
Darren was Dr. Munjed’s first Australian bilateral above knee amputee osseointegration patient, and he remains a huge advocate for it. He is seven months out of surgery, and walking steadily at this point. He graciously removed his leg to demonstrate the safety mechanisms built into it, which captured the attention of several children nearby, who attentively watched the half-machine man take his leg off and casually put it back on.
Darren demonstrating the removal of his legs, as a small crowd gathers 🙂
I noticed there weren’t many adults staring at Darren’s legs nor Clara’s absence of them. Children, however, frequently expressed their unfiltered curiosity and fascination; to which Darren responded with a friendly invitation to talk about them. Parents clearly appreciated his openness and honesty, and became more intrigued as he explained them.
On-the-spot interview about Osseointegration outside a café
Later, we reflected on our friends’ mobility differences and similarities. Clara noted that she actually has more freedom in a wheelchair than using socket prosthetics. Darren reassured her by stating that although it is hard work to learn how to walk with Osseo, the benefits are incomparable to all other alternatives.
A sign I saw posted in front of a coffeeshop. I found it synchronistically appropriate, as it related to our ongoing conversation about the risk of falling on prosthetics.
My biggest take-away from the whole trip was the fact that anyone can have fun whilst in the company of friends, regardless of mobility. All five of us had equal opportunity to go on this social outing and enjoy it together, despite some being slightly limited or needing specific accomodations. Nobody complained, nobody was a burden to anyone else. We were all immersed in the excitement of sightseeing and good conversation.
Clara and Darren on the ferry, heading back home.
Essentially, there are two options: stay down or get up. Clara and Darren have chosen countless times to forgive themselves for falling, rise again and then keep walking, no matter how difficult. I reflected on this, on the determination of our new friend Darren, and the resiliency of my long-time friend Clara. Their individual strength is incredibly inspiring, their friendship powerful. And in this way, with their combined perseverance, they will inevitably fly.
Thank you for choosing to follow Clara’s journey as she takes the next step….
Cheers from Australia!
Breathtaking view of Manly Beach.