Good as Gould
Quadruple amputee David Gould, 57, could be forgiven for feeling bitter about the cards he has been dealt.
But despite enduring cancer, pneumococccal septicaemia and a crippling stroke, the Albany man is one of the most cheerful characters you will meet.
"I have two options. I can be gregarious and happy, or I can be the grumpy old amputee who sits in his power chair all day. It's not an option for me, I'll be the friendly guy."
Mr Gould suffered the first of many cruel blows at age 22 when he was struck down by Hodgkin's disease or cancer of the lymph nodes.
A lengthy recovery followed including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
"Dale and I got married in-between treatments. I was allowed seven days off for my honeymoon."
Once given the all clear, the newlyweds took off to the United Kingdom on their OE.
When they eventually returned Mr Gould began work in his own pharmacy in Parnell.
A decade passed before he encountered yet another vicious curveball. He was rushed to hospital with pneumococcal septicaemia and swiftly had his arms and legs amputated to prevent the spread of infection.
"My hands and feet had gone gangrenous. I was lucky they were taken off below my elbows and knees otherwise I would've had real trouble."
As he surfaced from two weeks of potent morphine and after his eventual return home Mr Gould decided to take the bull by the horns.
Six months of painful rehabilitation did not break Mr Gould's unfaltering optimism and within a year he was back at work.
"I had a technician to act as my hands behind the counter.
"Adjusting to the prosthetics was very painful, my wounds were still raw but the way I saw it I didn't have a choice."
Wife Dale says he re-learnt to walk at the same time as their first-born Chris.
"They'd both be on the floor together, that was very cute."
The pair had just pieced their life back together when they were sent spiralling back to square one. A major stroke left Mr Gould completely paralysed down his left side.
Confined to a hospital bed without his prosthetics, Mr Gould says the question "why me?" first crossed his mind.
"We lost the business, there was no way Dave could carry on working. We had to sell the house too very quickly and everything else kind of fell down around us," Mrs Gould says.
"With three little boys that was really tough."
But still they refused to accept defeat.
"We have an open door policy. We wanted the boys' friends to know Dave and not be scared by him.
"The kids would all have rides on his power chair," Mrs Gould says.
Family outings were sometimes embarrassing but she says they learned to laugh at their situation.
‘"We'll be at the zoo and I'll become part of the attraction. Some kids point and say ‘mummy look it's a pirate', but I don't mind, I think it's funny. I should take my parrot and really get them talking," Mr Gould says.
Mr Gould was once a keen squash player, diver and fisherman but says he now focuses on what he can, rather than what he can't do.
"If anything now is a good time to be disabled. Technology is progressing at such a rate."
New amputees are now referred to him by the Artificial Limb Centre for mentoring.
"I have met some very brave people.
"They are the ones who inspire me."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Are our classrooms becoming overcrowded?