Lost limbs, broken hearts, and the beginning of something new.
When I was trying to think of what to call the first post on this blog (which has taken far longer than I hope writing the rest of it will), I kept flicking through titles in my head like it was a life or death decision.
What would be an appropriate introduction to my very first post?
I decided to move away from that and try to figure out where to start. Would I go in heavy or would it be a lighthearted opening paragraph.
Eventually after way too long I thought I’ve gotta start somewhere or else I’ll never write anything.
Just like that the title problem was solved, as for how I’m going to open it, well, I wouldn’t call it lighthearted.
Legless in Glasgow
It was the 25th of November 2012, I was lying in bed in Glasgow’s Golden Jubilee hospital, just waking up after a routine operation to replace a damaged conduit near my heart. Nothing unusual about feeling groggy after something like that.
What was unusual was the fact that the operation had taken place on the 20th and I had been in a medically induced coma for five days, that is not a routine part of the surgery. I can’t remember most of what happened that day, I was constantly slipping in and out of consciousness and there were so many doctors, nurses and other hospital staff around me, as well as Mum and Dad. I do remember being given two pieces of information, both of which would completely change my life.
Firstly, that my sister, who had been heavily pregnant when I went down for surgery, had given birth to a little girl that very morning. I had a baby niece, Charlie-Isla.
The second, that there had been complications during my heart surgery, leading to the surgeon uttering, “I’m sorry Mr Saunders, we have had to amputate your right leg above the knee”.
Now I know what your thinking, “Come on man, your blog is called The HopScot, I thought this was going to be funny”. Well, it will be, and it won’t be, I’m blogging about experiences in my life and life is always a mix of tragedy and comedy.
So, I’m lying there in bed, having just been given this earth shattering news and everyone is waiting to see what my reaction would be.
The thing that nobody took into consideration was the fact that I was doped up to my eyeballs on painkillers so my only reaction was “oh, okay” and then falling back asleep. Thinking back, I’m glad I didn’t take it in properly that time, I was barely able to move for all the tubes and wires, I was in a very vulnerable position and if I had panicked god knows how that would have turned out.
As it goes, I lay there for a few days, just thinking it over. I wasn’t able to sit up enough to even see where my leg would have been and with the painkillers it was easy to forget about it being gone when I needed to relax.
It was during this time to mull it over that slowly, deep in my mind, the very first leg joke started to form.
Like a predator waiting for the perfect moment to pounce, I lay in that hospital bed, biding my time until the ideal prey walked in. And then, after a few nights (I couldn’t say exactly how many as all the days were a mush back then), she walked into my room. A nurse I had seen walking around the ICU, dropping in to make sure the drips were dripping and the machines were beeping. She was middle aged and I remember she had such a friendly happy face. She stepped up to the side of my bed and smiled, “How are you feeling dear?” And this was it, my moment, like a pouncing lion I struck.
“I think someone’s slipping vodka into my feeding tube, I’m feeling a bit legless here”.
I did not realise what a rabbit hole I was falling down by making that first joke. I have to say though, my closest friends tend to be the ones who pull out the harshest jokes, and I love it. There have been a few occasions where people have gotten offended on my behalf, I appreciate their protectiveness but have told them not to worry about it. Sometimes they even join in after a while.
Up to Speed
This may be a good point in the post to point out that this blog is not going to be completely linear. I will be talking about different parts of my experience with the amputation, recovery and beyond in each post. Still, I will try to give the whole story, just a bit mismatched, if you’ve ever watched “The Witcher” then kind of like that.
What’s This All About
I’ve started this blog to share what has happened to me in the past, what is happening to me right now and hopefully to interest people with my outlook on everything. There is no doubt that what has happened in terms of my health has been awful, but so many great things have happened as well. I have always tried to keep a positive attitude towards everything, laughter might not be the best medicine for an amputated leg but it does wonders for your mind. I will keep this blog up, adding as often as I can but I can’t promise that every post will look like this one. I’m just feeling my way with this at the minute.
Also, life changes so much around us that something I write about one day might be completely overshadowed by something new by the time I come to write the next post.
I just hope that if this has interested you I can keep you that way.
Any comments or ideas for anything you might like to hear more about are very welcome.
- Always find the joke. Your situation may feel hopeless and you might think you never want to laugh again, but even in the tragic moments life is full of comedy and there is always a joke to be made. Someone is going to make it eventually so don’t let them beat you to the punch.
“Comedy is tragedy plus time”.Mark Twain or Steve Allen, the internet is a bit fuzzy on that one.