So let me back up a little bit here, and provide some back-story to the months before and after Andre left his indelible mark on my life.
After 12 years of living in Sydney I moved back to my home town in October ‘04. I was sort of having a long distance relationship with someone I’d met whilst living in Sydney – he lived in Melbourne. K was originally from Sydney, which is kinda how we got together.
I didn’t move back to Melbourne because of K (I was planning that before we met) but later found out he told others I did just that. Delusional? Oh definitely! Things were sort of okay for the first few months, but it didn’t take long to see it wasn’t gonna work out in the cold harsh light of day-to-day reality.
Around Easter ‘05, I competed in my first ever triathlon and promptly broke my toe (second toe, left foot). I haven’t done a triathlon since!
A couple of weeks after that, K and I broke up. I suppose with all the pain and the limping, I just couldn’t support a broken relationship too. But along with the relationship, out went the group of friends (his) I’d been associating with.
Socially I was back to square one.
Middle of ‘05, I headed to Sydney for that year’s yoga retreat. Warm, sunny Sydney. Warmer than Melbourne at any rate! And surrounded by friends.
The toe still hadn’t healed very well.
Early August ‘05 I met Andre – the rest of that story is on this blog, starting with “Once Upon a Time“.
Slowly my internal catatonia dissipated as January ’06 ticked over, and I was faced with some tough decisions. Damn toe was still broken. I was still limping and getting around in sneakers every day.
Already I’d put it off once, and I knew what had to be done. I’d tried all sorts of alternative healing therapies to avoid it.
I hadn’t wanted to face it.
Bone. Graft. Surgery.
Where an orthopaedic surgeon removes bone from one part of your body and grafts it to another. So the messed up bit has a fighting chance of healing up.
That poor little toe had had complications – some kind of benign cyst within the bone itself. Eeeew…
Actually, I’d known about the cyst for around ten years – as a result of an x-ray I’d had when I broke my left little toe (by accidentally kicking a tool box whilst stoned). But the cyst had been problem free til now.
So. Around the time of the ‘06 Commonwealth Games I was in hospital getting a bone graft. With myself as the donor.
Over the years I’ve managed to break many bones, tear soft tissue frequently and sprain joints almost as often… but I’m not sure anything compares to the excruciating pain of having a cyst scooped out of your toe, bone being taken from your hip and packed into the empty hollow of said toe.
My hip felt like it’d been replaced with concrete. When the morphine wore off, my toe announced itself with screaming pointy jabs of agony. For weeks I’d wake up in tears because I’d unconsciously twitched in my sleep, sending shards of lightning roaring through my nervous system.
But here’s something I didn’t know til later – surgery has a very common side effect: Depression.
Ofcourse I was already trying to cope with undiagnosed depression and PTSD. Most of my closest friends were 1,000kms away in Sydney, and I further isolated myself from those around me because it seemed like the best thing to do.
Or rather, I isolated the pain so no one would know.
Soft and gentle was my fall backwards into the fluffy feather bed of depression. Any progress I’d made – lost.
It coated my vision with lethargy which I initially put down to the pain. And the hobbling, which made it hard to walk and meant I took twice as long to get anywhere. So the exhaustion too, I assigned to the post-operative surgery healing process.
Depression took the guise of recovery, stretching out interminably with no end in sight. Physically things moved along at the right pace. Mentally they did not.