Yesterday was a day full of emotions. I was excited and proud about being part of the press release written by the Amputee Coalition of America, and I am hopeful that my horrific experience may be used as an example so that increased training for TSA screeners will be implemented. There is no greater compliment for my blog than knowing that my words may have contributed to a beneficial change.
My pride, however, was tempered with sadness and anxiety. Yesterday I had two blog friends undergo leg amputations. Their medical situations differ greatly, but the fears and anxieties that they expressed are universal. Knowing what they were going through, the terror that they were feeling, brought me back to the days leading up to surgery. They were both on my mind all day.
I try to avoid reflecting on the time before my amputation. I was beyond scared. I knew that I was making the correct decision, but I feared living without my leg. I was scared of waking up without my foot, scared of the pain and scared of being visually disabled to the world. I worried that I was entering the operating room in many ways broken, but that I would emerge incomplete.
I spoke with both of these blog friends several times on the phone as they prepared for the amputation. I tried to answer the questions that they asked as well as those questions that they were too nervous to ask. Hearing the anxiety and the fear in their voices broke my heart. I knew that they are going to be okay, but I also realized that, until they survive the amputation and regain their mobility, they will not fully believe me. I know I didn't believe those who tried to comfort me.
My day started with a 5 AM call from my friend in Arizona. She was scared and nearly inconsolable. I tried to provide the right words, but I knew that nothing could soothe her pain. Sometimes, as helpless as it feels, I realize all I can do is listen and validate. By the end of the call she was no longer crying, but her anguish was radiating.
I tried to busy myself around the house, but my thoughts kept driving back to my own surgery. I don't like remembering those feelings so I do my best to push them out of my mind. I'm sure a therapist would disagree and tell me that it is not healthy, but it seems to work for me. My avoidance tactic worked because my house is now clean and we are caught up on laundry.
I have received calls from the families of both of my friends. Both women are recovering and are as comfortable as possible. My heart lightened with the news that the amputations are over and that they can both work towards resuming their lives. I am thankful that they thought enough to have me contacted with the updates.
Both of these ladies are now unfortunate members of a small group of amputee survivors. We did not lose our limbs immediately because of an accident or trauma. Instead, we had to choose to amputate our painful, diseased or broken down limbs in order to regain our lives. Many of us endured years of painful and unsuccessful limb salvaging surgeries only to come to the conclusion that we would be better off with a prosthetic. The process is heartbreaking and draining for all involved.
Both women are going to have arduous journeys ahead of them. They will be in pain and they will struggle. I know that they will also celebrate each step and will regain their independence and health. I am grateful to have been part of their journey, and I look forward to celebrating the victories which are awaiting them.