Witty Doctors and a Spectacularly Questionable Film Choice.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.