3: When Might it be Appropriate to Start Calling Him Hoppy?

Witty Doctors, spectacularly questionable film choices and
a Viking ceremony.

A lot of things can happen in five days. You would be amazed at how much you can miss if you lose just one working week. For me, I closed my eyes one second, opened them the next and found a completely new life was waiting for me.

“I Hope You Understand
Your Child Might Die“

We meet so many people over the course of our time on this earth. People from all walks of life, with varying personalities and opinions. There will be those who we are immediately drawn to and those we would rather avoid. Ideas with which we agree and plenty with which we do not.
And there will always be those people where first impressions can be misleading.

The title of this section is an example of what caused a very misleading first impression. I won’t go naming any names but I will tell you that these words were the first my parents heard from a consultant very high up in the world of cardiology (heart stuff) and who would be dealing with my case for the foreseeable future.
However, time goes by and you start to realise that first impressions are not all they’re cracked up to be. While she has become no less intimidating over the years, we have all developed a genuine respect for her, which has erased the negative feelings we had at the start.

Fast forward to me lying asleep in the hospital bed, only a day or two post amputation and still unaware of what had happened. She came across to Glasgow from Edinburgh to visit me, not in any professional capacity, just to check up on us all.
After a short chat with my family she stood at the foot of the bed, looked down at me and quipped, “So, when might it be appropriate to start calling him hoppy?”

I think, considering my situation, she forgave me for not laughing at the joke.

Now, as I have said I was asleep at this point but if the tales I’ve been told are true, there was an audible gasp from the nurses in the room.
Fortunately, after years of knowing my family, she was perfectly aware that they would not react badly to a bit of humour in even this dire situation.
After her departure, one of the nurses apparently posed the question, “Who was she?”
A doctor, who was also in the room, laughed and said “I’m so glad you didn’t ask that question while she was within earshot”.
We were not the only ones who had equal amounts of both fear and respect for her.

I See You

The first few days after waking up to find my leg had been amputated were surreal. I wasn’t really getting my head around it properly and only ever acknowledged what had happened to make a few jokes.
Eventually though, the time came to lift the sheets. After too long on my back I had finally started to be able to sit up, with some help from the remote that controlled the bed (more fun that you would expect).
I told one of the intensive care nurses that I wanted to see what was left down there. My parents were both in the room with me when the blankets were lifted and I saw my bandaged, melon sized stump for the first time.
Have you ever had that feeling like there is a ball of electricity in your stomach which slowly starts to ripple out all through your body until it reaches your fingertips? That is the best way I can describe the sensation of seeing it.
I wasn’t especially upset afterwards, not in the sense that I started to cry, even though I did feel like I was supposed to, it just didn’t happen like that.
I cannot say the same for my parents though. For my sake they did their best to control their emotions but I think I made a joke about being “stumped“ as to what to do next and that set them both off.

Now I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t shed a single tear in the aftermath of my surgery. I didn’t cry when I saw what remained of my right leg but after a little processing time it hit me like a steam train.
There were nights in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), sobbing, eyes stinging, shoulders shuddering. Never alone though, mum and dad, one or the other or both were always at my side.


However, as strange as it might seem, there were nights when much laughter echoed around the ICU.
For instance, the night my dear mother decided to go to the shops and buy me a movie.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” to be exact.
Now, if you don’t know the plot of this film allow me to give you a quick synopsis.
Spider-Man has to battle against a scientist who has, through weird experimentation, managed to turn himself into a giant lizard.
“But what is so funny about that?” I hear you ask.
Well, his experiments involved the use of lizard DNA to restore his missing arm.
Yep, it was the first movie I saw after the operation and the main bad guy was an evil, mutated amputee who went mad trying to regrow his limb.
I thought it was hilarious but my mum, who I must say could not have possibly known what the film was about, was less amused. In fact she still looks guilty when I bring it up now.
I’m sure she won’t mind me posting it here for everyone to see though. I hope.

The Pharaoh’s Dream

If you’ve ever seen the Joseph musical, that title is a reference to the song where the Pharaoh sings about the fat and thin cows.
There are so many unexpected things that may follow major surgery. Eventually, I will go through most of them on this blog (maybe not some of the really icky ones).
For now though, I will focus on one in particular.
Fluid Retention.

As slim as I may look, this is not a diet plan I recommend.

This is a buildup of fluid within your body and can be caused by numerous different things. In my case, amongst other things, a five day lie in of which any teenager would be proud.
Because of the many litres of extra fluid sloshing around inside of me, I would start every day with a swollen face and chest. This was due to lying down all night which allowed it to move upwards.
However, over the course of the day, once I was allowed to sit up, it would all move downwards and by the time night came around I had a foot that looked like it belonged to a hobbit. Which would have probably been a lot more amusing if I hadn’t looked like Skeletor up top.
So, by late evening I was looking like some kind of rejected Disney villain. Or one of those things from the Narnia books that hopped around everywhere on one massive foot.

Either way, it made it difficult to see how I was really doing.
Every morning my parents would wake up and see how healthy I looked, with my chubby cheeks and all that, whilst in the evening I regressed to looking like I was just one missed dinner away from disappearing into thin air.
Of course I was in the exact same physical condition no matter how chubby or bony I looked.
That is, the state of someone recovering from two very large surgical procedures and a week long, induced coma. In fact, my recovery was actually going as well as could be expected, there was just one tiny little thing slowing it down.
The Kidney Failure.

But that’s something for another post.

Phase 2

Looking back on it now the whole experience seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve been a member of the hoppy brigade for seven and a half years and as far as many of my friends are concerned, this is how I’ve always been.
It’s an undeniable fact that I view my life so far in two very distinct parts, everything before the amputation, and everything since.
There was even a period of a couple of years subsequent to the operation where I avoided any discussion or even photographs of my time before the loss of my leg.
We all move on though, the way you feel about past experiences change and the wounds start to sting a little less. I can look at pictures of myself with two legs now and while I still find myself missing the things I was able to do, it doesn’t fill me with the same grief anymore.

The Wind Beneath His Wings

In my previous posts I spoke of the little bird we rescued from a squashy fate. We brought him home to look after and decided to name him Argo.
I also spoke about the Tamagotchi that my mum recovered from the back of a cupboard, which I very imaginatively named… Argo.

Argo B, the bird, was doing remarkably well. After initial worries we were thrilled when he started to perk up. Feeding became something we didn’t need to force but rather something he started asking for and with the help of Argo T’s beeps he managed to find his voice and was singing confidently all through the day.
It was during a particularly energetic moment of jumping across the bed that we noticed he was opening his wings. He was trying them out as he jumped around, though he wasn’t getting enough height.
So, very cautiously we put him up on a pillow that was raised slightly above the bed and watched to see what he would do. A few slides down the soft sides occurred before he gained the confidence to take a little jump.
He didn’t fly, of course, he was still far too little. He did however, flutter down slowly, obviously using his wings to control the drop.

We were so thrilled, we even managed to get a video which I unfortunately cannot upload here at the moment.
The family were all amazed to see just how well he looked to be getting on.

Paint me like one of your French birds.

The thing is, sometimes looks can be misleading.
That very same night, while we were all sat around eating dinner with little Argo B bouncing around in his freezer box, mum noticed that something seemed to be wrong. We went over to look and saw that he was trembling violently, like he was having some kind of fit. Then it stopped very suddenly and he just stood there, perfectly still.
We tried to feed him but he wasn’t interested, so it was back to the forceful method, which he didn’t resist at all. He wasn’t making any noise, not even the sound of his buddy Argo T beeping could raise a peep out of him. He just seemed so tired and worn out, so we turned the lights off and let him sleep.

And somewhere in the night, while he was peacefully sleeping, his little soul drifted away.

The next morning, after the tears and all the questions, we realised that, sometimes, things can just be too fragile for this world. We built a pyre, appropriately made from the wood of an old church organ, and gave him a send off that any Viking might envy.

He may never have had the chance to fly in his unfairly short lifetime but he’s up there now, soaring on the wind.

What’s the Point?

It would be very easy to ask that question. Why put in so much effort, staying awake most of the night, making sure he was fed and constantly keeping an eye on him, only for it to end like that?
The point is, that we did what we could to give him a chance. It isn’t worthless just because he didn’t make it.
For Bipa, as soon as she saw him she knew leaving him in the middle of the road to be mauled by some cat wasn’t an option.
Even if all we could give him were a few extra days of bouncing around and fluttering his little wings against the air, it was worth picking him up.

A Cheerful Wrap Up

On that happy note it is time to end this post. I know the ending wasn’t super jolly but as much as I wish it wasn’t the case, sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

If you haven’t read my previous posts and liked this one, have a look at the others. If you already have, thank you for sticking with me and I hope the slightly sombre ending to this one doesn’t put you off. There is plenty of humour to come, I promise.

The Wisdom

First impressions are important, but they aren’t everything.
It is always good to remember that just because somebody’s personality rubs you the wrong way at first, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a person worth your time. It’s the easiest thing in the world to misinterpret peoples intentions when you don’t know them very well.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel “the way you’re supposed to”.
Emotions can be unpredictable and surprising things, especially when they are yours. We all react in different ways to what is presented to us. One person might break down in tears, another might not. There is no right or wrong way. How you express your feelings is your business.
You do you.

Don’t let a loss ruin your faith.
That means faith of any variety, faith in your religion, in a system or in a person, including yourself. A loss, especially when you’ve put a lot of yourself into something, can shake your faith. “Why am I even bothering?”
There will always be loss, you can’t win every time but that must not stop you from keeping faith in what you are doing and what you believe. Even if you don’t get the result you want.
As a wise man once said, “gotta have faith”.

Dangling your arms over the bed when you have fluid retention makes you look like Popeye.
Not that I would recommend it. While it might make for a brief moment of hilarity, fluid filled arms are just as heavy and squishy as you might expect.

Obligatory Blog Quote

Don’t let this stop you from saving the next baby bird.

My Mum

Follow me (not in a creepy way),

16 thoughts on “3: When Might it be Appropriate to Start Calling Him Hoppy?

  1. Oh my word…. The Amazing Spiderman…. Will I ever live that one down, the way the nurses looked at me… you played on it so much, everyone in that hospital new about it within the day…. A certain good looking Irish doctor stopped me in the corridor and congratulated me on my dvd choice…. 🙄

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  2. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when your cardiologist said that! Ohhhh, R.I.P Argo B, so sad but you both shown him love and care within those few days. Your poor Mum, although it did make me chuckle with how apt the storyline is 🙂

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    1. I wish I could have been awake to hear it as well, I would love to have loved to have seen the faces on those nurses.

      It was very sad, I remember how torn up we were about it. Looking back now though I am just glad that he got those couple of extra days with us rather than being out in the cold.

      Ahhh, yes that is the story that she will never be allowed to forget. It brings me great joy reminding her every so often, especially because I just thought it was hilarious at the time anyway.

      Can I just say, it’s been really lovely seeing your comments popping up as you’ve been reading through my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy it as you go along and I look forward to hearing more of what you think.

      Thank you very much,
      David.

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