Exam week. There was no longer four weeks to go until November 27th, there is now three. The week was a flurry of supervising exams and marking exams as accurately and as fast as I could. My goal was to have all my subjects, but one, complete by the time I boarded a plane for Sydney at the end of the week. The race was on. In the middle of this race, my surgeon had asked for one more appointment before I left for the UK. So the Wednesday, when I had no exams to supervise, I found myself waiting in his rooms, marking exams, of course. For the first time though in this story the surgeon was on time. He was also quite elated by this fact, greeting me with a smile, and making the observation himself. By now I had become quite used to the fact that I was walking much better. That day when I noticed the difference was two weeks ago and I was even stronger now than then. I sat down in the usual chair and for the first time I saw relief in him. The concerned look that he had worn for the past five months was now a smile, and not just because he was enjoying being on time. He saw the difference too. ‘So you’ve finally turned the corner’ was his first comment to me after he sat down behind his desk. I explained my progress over the past six weeks. With the movement and sensation beginning to return in my feet and the fact that my hip muscles were beginning to work once more, he thought that I might be able to progress enough within 3-4 months to be walking with an aid, and I might even regain the majority of movement in my foot, over time. He was more upbeat than my neurologist had been. But while there was good news and he took the time to affirm the progress I had made, there were still some serious matters to talk about. The weakness of my back, despite the hours of physio, pilates, and hydro, for example. The sensation that my back is just about to break not going away. Once we had exhausted the issues that needed discussion, he asked that I make an appointment for when I return from Cambridge. Eight months. A new deadline. There was a double-edge to the eight months. He was expecting progress, expecting that in eight months time I would be walking without an aid, and yet he was waiting to see whether the condition of my back had changed. Eight months. I can’t control the rate of recovery, but I can continue to work at my recovery. But at this point, after five months of specialist appointments and so much uncertainty, I was just glad to be leaving the hospital rooms, knowing that it will be eight months until I return again. Eight whole months. I almost felt free.