When I think back to my 100 nights in Auckland hospital, made up of two stints at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, my mind straight away jumps somewhere else. Anywhere else. I spent enough time there that I don’t really want to spend much time revisiting it.

But equally I also have a nagging thought that I should write something down. Something that I can look back on when I’m older, or maybe just something that other people would find interesting to read.

To keep it positive I’ve decided to focus on some of the things that helped get me through and that kept me in high spirits. Thanks to my family, my friends, my collegues at work and the awesome hospital staff that helped me get better — I was lucky enough to keep a smile on my face for most of the time and leave in pretty good shape.

Wait — how did you end up in hospital?

On with the story…

My work gave me purpose.

My friends at work made me this cute card

Mighty Ape’s commitment to remote work and modern collaborative tools was a life saver for me and help pass the time. Had I not had access to these tools, or colleagues committed to a modern way of working, my days would have been longer and more isolated. As it turns out, I seldom felt that way — and when I rejoined office life months down the track — I was immediately able to pick up where I left off.

Technology kept me connected.

SnapChat helped me keep connected

Of course there were dark times, where I just wanted to be there too, but overall it made me feel thought of and included. I felt connected, and it made me more motivated to get home and get better. Having my laptop and a bunch of subscription services was awesome too. I watched the same shows on Netflix, the same YouTube channels — I read books on my iPad and I listened to song and albums on Spotify. Thanks to technology and the internet, I’d guess that at least 50% of my life remained exactly the same as it would have been. For that reason, and the fact my injuries would probably have killed me 100 years ago — I am extremely grateful my accidents happened in 2015/2016 and in New Zealand.

Goals to work toward.

  • Sit up in bed after spending six weeks flat on my back
  • Stand up without assistance
  • Leave my bed to use the shower, toilet or just sit in a chair
  • Move around under my own steam using a walking frame
  • Use a wheelchair to take myself around the hospital and outside
  • Use crutches safely to navigate stairs and be considered for discharge
Standing for the first time in about 8 weeks was a very good day

There were also goals around my physical limitations and range of motion that I became absolutely obsessed about. The injury to my leg meant that my knee could no longer bend and was effectively locked in a straight position. Every day I would do physio and exercises whilst in bed, to try and improve the range of motion. I measured my progress in degrees absolutely obsessed with getting to 90 degrees so I could sit normally on a chair. I worked my physio hard and made him measure and measure again until we hit 90 — which we did. To this day I haven’t got it all back, but I can peddle full circle on an excercycle which was once only a distant dream.

Learning to walk in my Mario pyjamas

I also created fun goals to look forward to — such as getting out in time for my birthday in December and throwing myself a birthday party that involved a midnight screening of Star Wars: Force Awakens with my friends. I achieved this — and flanked by all my friends I walked on crutches down Queen Street and into Event Cinemas and enjoyed the film with everyone else. Good times.

Unconditional love.

It was fun to get out of hospital and spend time with Alex again

There were unquestionably some very challenging times, but I was so lucky, and remain so lucky, to have Alex stand by me throughout the whole experience. Having someone to care for really helped. I definitely missed the simple things — our time at home together, going out for dinner, enjoying video games — and all the other cute things couples do, but we were still able to talk every day and share important and interesting parts of our everyday lives. Realising that I was as loveable and as worthy, despite my injuries — was perhaps the greatest gift.

I feel the same sense of gratitude toward all my friends and family who stood by me too. Both during my hospital stay and afterward. Whilst in hospital I was delivered a home cooked meal or takeaway on an almost daily basis — and believe me, when faced with hospital food day in day out McDonald’s never tasted so good. One of my friends even arranged a flatwhite to be delivered from the local Columbus Cafe at 9am on the dot every weekday morning. I have no idea who he had to bribe or how much he had to pay — but it was these little things that really got me through.

Driving my new car for the first time was fun

My friends also temporarily modified my apartment so it was Dylan-friendly and ran errands for me — whether it was to simply fetch a glass of water from the kitchen, or the ridiculous yet iconic drive all the way from Auckland to Wellington return (wheelchair stowed safely in the boot of a chase car!) to collect a new Dylan-friendly car with a DSG gearbox. My friends did all these things and more.

I surrendered control — sort of.

My new friend Dave made sure I could always reach my laptop

In the early days of hospital I tried to control every part of my environment — I had people put signs on the door when I didn’t want nurses, doctors or anyone to interrupt me, and I had friends and colleagues txt or call before visiting to make sure I was in the mood for visitors. Spontaneous visits — no matter how well intentioned were strictly forbidden.

Eventually I learned what I could control and what I couldn’t, and that often compliance was the quickest route to getting what I wanted — freedom. I did as I was told and I swallowed the pills, I filled out the forms, I jumped through all their stupid little bureaucratic hoops and did what was necessary to have all the correct boxes ticked to achieve a successful discharge. My friends tell me I have rose tinted glasses on this subject and I was a lot more frustrated and stubborn than I remember — but looking at my life today I am much more willing to release control and just go along with things than I was before!

Doctors gave me hope.

I was pretty excited to be leaving

Turns out they knew something really important — hope drives action and pushes us to undertake things we’d otherwise consider impossible. As its said on the hallmark card — aim for the stars and you’ll reach the moon. I pushed myself hard every day in the quest for a full recovery, and in doing so, I’ve bounced back as much as anyone could hope and the doctors consider my recovery “excellent”.

I made genuine connections.

Honestly though, you get used to anything.

Ready to face the world

Interestingly, I could tell that friends and family visiting me perceived my experience to be worse than it actually was for me. Would I like to go back and do another 100 nights? Hell no. But when you’re faced with no choice — it’s incredible how quickly you adapt. Humans can put up with just about anything. It’s been the same experience post-hospital as well. I remember being told at one point during my stay that I’d probably have a “bit of a limp” and that might be something I’d have to adjust and get used to. I feel sorry for whoever drew the short straw on delivering that news because it didn’t go down well. Funny thing is though, a year or so later it turns out they were right — and it doesn’t really bother me. You get used to anything. Catch me in the right mood, and I can even laugh about it.

Twice was enough thanks.

If you’re reading this and you were part of my journey — thank you :)

Airport security is always a fun time

Love web, gaming, cars, business, politics and philosophy. Live in Auckland, New Zealand and work at Mighty Ape.