Amputation · Anxiety · Family · Health · My Blog · Self-Care · Transverse Myelitis

I am officially an Amputee

So it happened. It’s official. I had below knee amputation surgery on my left leg yesterday (Wednesday February 26th, 2020). I am now 24 hours out from surgery and doing pretty darn good. I’m actually doing better than expected. So sit back and hang tight while I lay out what all happened this week. If you would like a little more details there are some posts from this month: Anticipation Kills, Been There Done That, and Operation Meet Stumpy. (I will make these links clickable when I have access to a computer because it’s a pain in the butt on my phone. For now though they are listed under the my blog tab or complaints tab of my site.)

Monday afternoon I got hit with a cold. All sorts of clear drainage coming out my nose, dripping down my throat, and a small cough -from my throat being irritated from the post nasal drip. I went to bed real early and slept hard. Tuesday the cold had intensified, but I had a handful of things I needed to take care, of so I pressed on. I worked a half day to make sure things were squared away for the two and a half weeks I plan on being out of work. Then I slept for about four hours starting at noon, got our taxes done and had some snuggle time with the kid and the husband before going to bed early. Wednesday morning I woke up on my surgery day at 3 a.m. with all sorts of snot coming out my face. For 28 minutes I tried to fall back asleep while intermittently blowing my nose and apparently keeping my husband awake. When I decided it was a lost cause because now my brain was wide awake with all sorts of thoughts about things and stuff; I popped out of bed and went to my office. I decided since I was awake, my nose running and my brain thinking I would try and be productive. So, I made March’s budget, submitted our grocery order to be delivered on Sunday and crocheted a scarf with buttons and it was beautiful. Around 6:40 a.m. my beautiful baby girl came upstairs dressed and ready for school. We enjoyed some wonderful mother-daughter time complete with snuggles, giggles and a good heart to heart. she decided she wanted to go to school for a little bit so she could finish an art project with clay because she was concerned it would be dried out if she did not. Since I did not have to leave for the hospital until 9:45 a.m. thus I was able to grant her wish and allow her to go to school for just over an hour.

After dropping the dog off at daycare, my husband, my daughter and myself arrived at the hospital downtown shortly after 10:00 a.m. I got checked in signed the necessary paperwork and was able to hurry up and wait.

Around 10:20 a.m. I was brought back tossed into a hospital gown and had my vitals taken. My surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing staff popped in and out of my room while the three of us spent time together until they willed me back for surgery around 12:30. Nick and Taylor appeared to be in good spirits. I on the other hand, was not just in good spirits, but was very calm, relaxed and at ease. I surprised myself with having little to no anxiety, that I didn’t really know how to handle not having stress, anticipation or worry. Almost to the point where you would call me Zen. For those that know me I am very rarely in the state because well, I’m Aly.

I knew that the surgery was going to go well and I was at peace of my decision. I also was very comfortable and had a lot of faith in my care team. This was not just for my surgeon but also in my PT and neurological rehab doctor. This decision was a long time coming and I was thinking I probably should have done it earlier. However, I wanted to make sure that I was solid in my decision since there are no takebacks. Over the last couple weeks, I had prepped Crock-Pot meals, ordered groceries for simple straightforward meals, arranged rides for Taylor, babysitters for me, daycare for the dog and gathered important documents; such as life insurance and our Will for Nick should the unspeakable happen.

When I arrived at the surgery room I was confronted with the less fancy version of what you see on the “Good Doctor”. I probably introduce myself to the folks in the operating room. I then proceeded to crack a joke about the three giant circular lights over the operating table. Asking the surgical team if they were tanning lights so that I would wake up looking like I just spent a week in Mexico. I was disappointed to find out that wasn’t the case, but loved the fact that I made them all smile and laugh; effectively making the tension leave the room. Apparently out of all the questions they had ever been asked while in that room no one, not one person had ever thought to ask or joke about the huge lights. While laying on the table, I started to be a little bit anxious, but those nerves were calmed quickly with whatever meds they gave me before the anesthesia hit.

I woke up just after 3:00 p.m. in the recovery room. It took a good 10 to 15 seconds for me to discern that this was reality and it actually happened. It took that long because I have been having dreams about my surgery day and then waking up only to find that it had not yet occurred. Thankfully it was officially done. Now, in this room I was able to gain information about the medications they had me on, the plan going forward, spell out a brief medical history to a curious nurse and crack a handful of jokes. I’m not going to lie the pain was significant, but we are able to start getting it under control while keeping me lucid. About 45 minutes after coming to in that room I was able to be moved to my hospital room and see my family.

FUN story about what happened when I got to the room… My wonderful nurse had lined up the beds to the same height and placed them next to each other. She was about to inflate a thin pad under me, to then slide me over to the hospital bed from the transport bed. When I saw what she was going to do, I asked her if it was okay if I moved myself over there because sliding and being jostled was not something I was down with. She asked if I was okay to do that and my smart ass replied ” if I wasn’t okay to do it I wouldn’t have asked.” So I requested her to hold my residual limb off the bed while I scooted in two swift movements on my rump and hands into position taking a total of 15 seconds. She was amazed that I was able to do that and remarked that my plan was so much easier than having to slide my hiney over on the transfer mat. The relief on Nick and Taylor’s face was clear as day. I was able to give lots of hugs and kisses and to take my first deep breath, knowing that I was surrounded by rocks. I again adjusted myself on the bed so I was no longer centered, but rather towards the left side so that Taylor could climb into bed with me and get some snuggles. Apparently that was just with that doctor ordered for her to relax. Something about knowing that I would still be able to snuggle her set her at ease.

After working with my care staff and loving on my family I ordered a huge ass dinner from the hospital. Which consisted of roast turkey, roasted potatoes, a fruit cup, a wheat bun, hot tea, chocolate soy milk, and a ginger cookie. Since it had been 24 hours since I’ve had solid food, I stuffed my face. This terrified the nurses because I’m sure they were thinking it was all going to come back up due to the anesthesia. Shortly after that, I made a couple phone calls and video calls to remind my loved ones that I was going to be around to pester them for many years to come.

I zonked out around 8 p.m. and woke just after 9 pm for vitals and meds where I slipped back into sleep until 1:30 in the morning. After taking more vitals and meds I am now sitting here roughly 12 hours after my surgery. I have pain in my limb which is to be expected, but I feel like a lot of that is revolving around the swelling and the pressure on the incision from the swelling. Occasionally it feels like the foot that is no longer with me is uncomfortable and I tried to move it which puts pressure on my swollen leg. That in turn reminds me not to do that and to just mentally wiggle my foot to make it feel back to normal and my normal I mean not there. Lol.

Honestly, I’m doing good. I feel like I’m doing better than I anticipated with pain and movement. I am wide awake now, not necessarily because of pain but because I keep thinking of all the things I want to say and do. I’m at the beginning of a new phase in my life and I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to be more mobile and stronger and happier. I will not settle because I plan on living my best life. I have no regrets whatsoever. I was a little nervous right before surgery because I wasn’t sure if I had actually emotionally processed not having my leg anymore. I was apprehensive that I would wake up going “oh shit I don’t have a leg, what have I done?” That didn’t happen though, I woke up confirmed this was real life and not a dream, then was okay I can see the Ace bandage I can see the amp you shield and I am totally fine. My mind is at ease and my heart is at peace. Life is good and I’m ready for this challenge.

Prior to the surgery we told a handful of close friends and our family. This is mostly because I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy or emotional capacity to help others process our decision or attempt to change our minds. I also didn’t want to justify my decision and have to lay out all the reasons why to each individual person that asked. This has been a long time coming and over the last four and a half years, since I was diagnosed with t, Transverse Myelitis I have not done a great job of sharing all of my struggles, pain, and agony with those around me. This is mostly because I felt like there wasn’t a point in complaining about something that wasn’t going to change. I hate being a Debbie Downer, but more than that, I cannot stand burdening people especially issues that we don’t have control over. So, if you are one of those people finding out from this post or friend please try to be understanding. This really was the best decision for me, our family, and the future we want to live together.

Hopefully this post isn’t too terribly written as I am voice texting it and medicated. It’s been about a half hour since I started and I plan on closing my eyes and going back to sleep. Until next time.