The distance between cute wildlife and roadkill can be short and fast, with mobile creatures such as kangaroos being just as vulnerable as plodders like echidnas.
As I discovered recently on a drive to Kakadu, roos blend well with their environment and behave, as far as humans are concerned, most unpredictably. This often leads to their death or serious injury, and although the damage to vehicles can be extensive, the occupants are seldom injured.
It is a different story for motorbike riders, as Lismore-born Jamie Maxted discovered eight years ago when he hit a roo - or vice-versa – on a rural road in Victoria.
Suffering serious injuries, especially to his left leg, Jamie underwent a series of medical procedures, including what he calls “countless surgery”, to save his foot, but every effort was in vain, and eventually he decided that, “If I had to lose my leg to regain my life, then so be it.”
Operated on in Melbourne, he was out of hospital after four days, and within the month had a prosthetic leg fitted.
Back in the Northern Rivers, the former gymnast and martial arts student was feeling the urge to resume exercising, but for years – more than seven, to be exact - he lacked the strength and balance to even walk properly. Worse, he suffered referred back and hip pain from over-compensating on his posture.
While a prosthetic limb is a strong support, it places intense pressure on the leg, and for Jamie this meant being able to stand on his left side for only three seconds.
Today, this time-span has increased tenfold, and the referred pain to other parts of the body has gone. Importantly, he is better able to handle the crutches he must use to spell his left leg because of issues such as skin irritations that affect most amputees.
More impressively to an outsider, Jamie is getting back his sporting life, including basketball, karate, and running, this with the help of the ‘blade-runner’ attachment – bearing the Nike logo - made famous by a certain disabled South African, now better known as ‘the defendant’.
While the improvements in Jamie’s physical, and as he freely admits, emotional wellbeing seem almost miraculous, the changes are no mystery to Jesse Morgan who has been working with Jamie for the past eight months.
Jesse, who runs Lismore-based Embrace Exercise Physiology, started by designing a remedial program based on Jamie’s condition, limitations and identified goals, working in liaison with his client’s GP and occupational therapist.
Since then he has taken his client from frequent sessions involving stretching and weight bearing exercises to a monthly consultation, interspersed with daily, self-managed workouts at home.
“It is essential for Jamie - indeed any client, whatever their circumstances - to maintain the program in their own time,” Jesse stresses.
“His discipline, obviously learned over the years in gymnastics and karate, is really paying off.”
Jamie agrees, saying that his increasing fitness and more positive attitude have given him the confidence to become involved in providing peer support to other amputees through a local support group, and to consider establishing a business designing individualised prosthetics, with a focus on sporting activities.
Delighted to be playing a part in Jamie’s rehab, Jesse stresses that focusing on individual needs is also central to his role of helping people cope better with whatever hand life has dealt them.
His clients may be young or not-so, fit or otherwise, chronic disease sufferers or those dealing with the consequences of an accident. In common, however, is the ability of body and mind to experience greater wellness through a professionally–designed and sustainable exercise program.
One is reluctant to ask how often Jesse is ‘embraced’ by grateful clients, but if Jamie’s obvious appreciation is anything to go by, the chances are that such a response might not be uncommon.