A few weeks ago I read an article that brought me to tears. Although I knew I would address the article in this blog, I needed time to process how I felt. I have to admit that my strong reaction surprised me.
Our Texas vacation and Scott's return to work intervened, and I managed to put the topic out of mind. Yesterday I read another article about the same topic. I took the repetition as a sign that it was the right time to delve into the issue.
For those who may be unaware, the world's first double leg transplant was successfully completed in Spain. If I had been asked to hypothesize on how I would feel should a leg transplant occur, I would have proclaimed that I would be both excited and happy. After all, medical advances such as the leg transplant will only help people by expanding the working knowledge base of surgeons!
Instead of being elated, I hesitate to admit that I was angry. Although I posted the article on the Facebook AmputeeMommy page, I couldn't comment on it. Every time I thought about the surgery, I could feel myself becoming upset and emotional.
I couldn't imagine how somebody could be so afraid of living as an amputee that they would subject their body to such a risky procedure, leaving them forced to live their life in a medically vulnerable state. Actually, I could relate to the patients fear. Before my amputation I might have jumped at any opportunity to have a "real foot." I have been living as an amputee for awhile and have learned that losing a limb does not mean that my life is over.
As frightening and overwhelming as it feels at times, limb loss is not the end of the world! The fact that surgeons would think that an individual would be better off living with a transplant, with all of the inherent risks versus living with a prosthetic or in a wheelchair, frustrates me.
As I began to research the case, I learned that this young man had a difficult time being fit with prosthetic legs and was resigned to a life in a wheelchair. Although I cannot put myself in his position, I can't help but think that I would opt to stay in the wheelchair. My step-brother underwent a double lung transplant. He came through the surgery with flying colors, but the anti-rejection medication became debilitating and, at times, controlled his life. For me, legs are simply not worth risking my life.
Despite my frustration, I appreciate the medical information that was gained by completing this complicated and groundbreaking surgery. Hopefully the knowledge will be used to help treat leg injuries in the future, sparing others the heart wrenching decision that I faced. From a strictly surgical perspective, the success of this procedure is inspiring. I only hope that this medical triumph will translate into more successful limb salvaging procedures instead of transplants.