My place. Wednesday, 9.30am
So, there I was: happy to be home after a weekend in Surfers Paradise, lugging my overnight bag and shopping supplies up the steps from the Superoo, anticipating a cold beer in the pleasant surrounds of my shack under the cliffs. Great to be home.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about Surfers Paradise. I like the many languages you hear as you stroll the mall. I like the Persian restaurant with its Brazilian waitresses. I particularly like sitting in the Skypoint bar, 77 floors above the Gold Coast glitz. But, really, I wouldn’t go to Surfers if I didn’t have a job there.
So, there I was: happy to be home, rushing up the steps, and thinking about the chilled can of Japanese beer in my fridge.
Then it happened.
I failed to negotiate a step and fell in a heap onto the ground. Immediately, I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. My right leg just wasn’t doing what a right leg should do. Oh dear.
I’m not someone who takes risks with his body. Sure, I ride motorbikes, walk barefoot in the bush, and sometimes drink more than my daily requirement of alcohol. But I do wear a helmet (except in Cambodia), I keep my eyes out for snakes (except when admiring the birdlife) and I don’t drink every night (but I will have that Japanese beer tonight).
I’m very careful physically, and have only broken a bone once. I was 10 years old. I was the barrow in a wheelbarrow race at a school sports day. The kid holding my legs as I ‘ran’ with my arms was a high achiever. When his leg speed and desire for victory overcame my arms’ running ability, he speared me into the ground, snapping a collarbone.
From that experience I learned two things: Sport is bad for you, and don’t let people push you around.
Back to last Sunday: Still on the ground, I realised I couldn’t move my foot without pain. Very slowly, I dragged myself up the remaining step, gingerly got up on my left leg, and hopped into the shack.
I do take risks – just not with my body. Every time I walk on stage it’s a risk. Every word I write, every relationship, every opinion is a risk. But as long as I have the option to walk (or run) away, it’s an acceptable risk. Mobility is everything.
So, there I was: Stretched out on my daybed at night, wondering how I would get to the fridge.
So, here I am: Sitting at my desk in the shack under the cliffs, writing this column. Under the desk is a huge white thing attached to my knee. A cast. It throbs with each heart beat. Leaning against the desk is a pair of crutches.
Apparently, I have torn my achilles tendon. Apparently that’s serious.
But I’ll tell you what is really serious: the change to my life. I’m immobilised. Today, I have cancelled gigs, work and appointments. The shack is rearranged to be cripple-friendly. (My office chair gets me around.)
The hardest change to handle is that, now, I can’t drive a car.
Driving is part of whom I am. I live in the bush. Despite the carbon footprint (which I desperately offset with my solar powered, low-consumption life style) I need to drive. I drive to make money. I drive to get food. I drive to see friends. Without a car, I’m helpless: no money, no supplies.
By the time my friends wonder where I am and come to my shack, all they’ll find is a throbbing cast with a starving office chair attached.
So, here I am.
Food drops appreciated.