3 Months Post Amputation
Time has been flying by. It most certainly has been a trying time for myself, my friends, & of course my family. I will end this post with a lot of amazing things that have happened over this past three months. There are a lot of good things that have happened since the surgery. However friends reminded me that it is good to share the bad too. So here it is in all its glory, three months in a nut shell.
Most recently I have been struggling. Not so much with the idea that I no longer have my leg, but that I am not where I want or hoped I would be. Truthfully I thought some things would be a hell of a lot simpler than they are. Moving around is not the easiest at times. A prime example, two evenings ago around three in the morning I was heading into the bathroom and the rubber tip of one of my crutches broke through and left nothing but slippery plastic to try to balance on. Of course being half asleep I crashed to the ground. Shoulder hurts, knee is sore, I knew what I signed up for but come on. That just sucked, plain and simple.
It's little things like these, not a major event by any means, that have been leading to breakdowns. I find myself angry and impatient. Yelling at moments for no real reason.
It cuts to the very core. I get upset at times when my amazing wife is doing nothing more than trying to help me. I hate being a burden on anyone, I don't like to bitch and complain, and most certainly don't want to feel like I am different. I have struggled with the in-abilty to perform some simple tasks. If I don't have my leg on, (oh yeah I have a leg!!! & I will get to that more in a sec.), I have to use crutches or a wheelchair. Neither of which really makes life easier. I am very much an OCD hands on person, and a lot of times I have to be the guy watching and not the guy doing, which can be maddening.
Through it all Jamie puts up with my crap, she has helped me through a struggle that I really can't explain. Blake is just an amazing kid, he has taken this all in stride and expects big things from me. Kristen and Jared call me on my crap and I can't thank you enough. True love and support from family and friends have helped me through dark moments and bring me back to light. With that I just want to say I love you.
Time for some awesomeness. So two weeks post op we attended the Kinney Drug's Bowl-a-thon to support the Children's Miracle Network. Needless to say I couldn't just sit around and watch, so after a few frames I decided to throw a couple. So here is my first attempt at bowling in a wheelchair.
For the record I didn't pick up the spare, bush-league. Lol. However that was a good moment for me. It gave a much needed boost. I also was able to play some corn hole and horse shoes, do some swimming and paddling and have been able to get out and enjoy this amazing summer.
I had a little scare at 5 weeks. Literally days before I was to be getting cleared to have my leg built, I developed an infection on my old scar where it met the new one. After a few hrs in the ER, a CT scan, X-rays and a trip back to Burlington it turned out to be a stitch that had not totally dissolved and was really not a big deal. There was a moment when it was thought that they might have to cut me back open and let it heal again. It would have set me back weeks. I couldn't imagine.
A week later and yet another trip to Burlington, I was cleared to get my new leg. What a day that was. For weeks leading up to this day I was having a dream nightly. The doctor who ultimately was responsible for what had happened was holding my amputated leg in his arms, and would not allow me to grab it from him. Nightly I chased him never able to catch him. So on this day I received my leg back, no I don't just have a leg laying around, I had it cremated. The crazy thing is I have not had the dream since I held the remains in my hands. Damn it, I win. I wear a bit of the ashes as a reminder of all the struggles, all the times I had to say I can't, all the moments both good and bad had with that leg.
Within hours of being told I could have a leg, I was back to Lake Placid to see Jeff Erenstone CPO and the staff at Mountain Orthotic & Prosthetic to be fitted. To my surprise Jeff and his crew pulled off a 24hr turnaround on my leg. Thats right from being fitted to wearing was only 24hrs! Crazy. As I was walked through the process of putting the leg on and the do's and do not's of wearing a prosthetic, emotions flooded my head. It was here already. This is it, I can start my life again.
So here it is in all its glory, my first steps with a new leg. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. What an amazing moment.
I can't even begin to tell you what it was like. A little painful but I didn't care, even a bit. After a few adjustments and some supplies I was on my way.
I never did any physical therapy, really didn't need it. Having my own knee made it fairly "easy" to balance. Don't get me wrong it wasn't great for a few weeks. Then again I was still very swollen and my leg was still healing. I did get a lot of workouts and stretch ideas from our friend Christine that came in handy.
I was warned that I needed to take it easy, don't go overboard. Well in typical fashion I pushed it to the limit. I was determined I would break the leg in fast and get back to life. Two weeks after getting my leg I was wearing it about 4-6 hrs a day, and really should have been using crutches to help walk and still was towards the end of the day. Well, we decided to head out to the golf course. I was just going to drive the cart around and hang out with everyone, but by the second hole I couldn't just hang out. I stretched out a bit, grabbed Jareds driver & a tee. Found an old ball and lined up. This is my very first swing with a new leg.
Straight and long. Bombed it bud! I played out the hole and one more and then called it quits. The leg was tender but who cares. A week later I made it back out to the course for the family reunion tournament. Tee'd up and started the tournament with another nice straight shot. This time out, I played 9 holes and all kidding aside I feel like I played better golf than I ever have. My wife, her two cousins ( one never played before and the other not much ) and I played a scramble and finished 2 over on the day. Not a bad outing and some nice shots made by all.
As amazing as it was I overdid it, developed a sore, and I had to limit the use of my leg for a few days. Since then I have come a long way and feel pretty amazing. The leg still has its moments where the nerves go a little crazy. The phantom pains have all but subsided, and I have been getting restful sleep. Last week I found out that I will be getting a leg that will rotate and an ankle that will be hydraulic, allowing me to do a lot more. I am ahead of the curve for now and I am very excited to try out the new parts. I want to thank Jeff and his team, they are amazing. They fix any problems immediately and make sure that I am as comfortable as possible in my new leg. I look forward to what the future holds.
I want to thank everyone in the community for reaching out and helping our family as we work through this. Thank you to our family and friends who always have our backs. Thank you to my son, who at 7 years old seems to have a better understanding of the world than most, you are so strong little man. We couldn't be prouder. To Jamie, you are amazing. No matter how crazy things can be at times, we always find a way to fall in love all over again.
To those of you reading this that are struggling with something in their life, take a deep breath. Look around. Find the beauty in the world. I keep being asked how I could keep a smile on my face through everything. Truth is I am no stronger than the next person. I smile because everyone smiles with me. Sounds crazy, but there have been days when I am down and out and I will run into someone, I instantly realize life is good. I'm blessed to have my family and friends and this community. I've had people come up to me that I have never met and give me a hug. These moments make me, us, strong. Take a moment, look around. Find a friend or family member and talk. Smile even at the crappiest moments, because someone near by might be having a crappy day too. A smile is stronger than a frown. Be tough as a nail and soft as butter and it will work out.
Thank you for taking the time in your life to read about my life, I hope you have a great rest of your day!