So two days ago the operation happened! I've been a below knee amputee since Wednesday. I thought I'd share some initial thoughts but am on some impressive painkillers so this may or may not make sense...
It hurts - I realise this seems like pointing out the obvious but nevertheless I bet you were wondering! Whilst it does smart from time to time, it's certainly not the most painful thing I've dealt with, but it does hurt. I'm on a fairly spectacular mix of drugs at the moment, I've been warned that the pharmacists won't be happy as if I overdo my PCA (patient controlled analgesia) I could end you struggling to breath so sensible use only! But it generally keeps it manageable. sleep is an issue though. When I sleep, I cannot push the PCA button, so I don't get any gradual top ups, so last night at 4 (ish) there was a moment with such pain I was holding my stump in the air to keep it from contact with anything... Quick call to the nurse for some quick drugs were the way forwards!
Still feels right - it was a big decision to loose a foot to achieve more mobility with less pain. Going into the op there was always a risk that I would come out of theater and think "what have I done?!" it's very common after an amputation to feel a sense of bereavement and loss so I realised there was a chance of feeling bad about it afterwards. I'm thrilled to say I don't. It still feels good and right. That's not to say I won't have a stage where I wonder if it was the right choice but at the moment, despite post op pain and the frustration of bed rest, it feels like a positive step towards improved mobility and less pain!
Phantom sensation is odd - phantom sensation and phantom pain are two different things! Sensation is the feeling of the limb still being there and is extremely common, phantom pain is your brain remembering the pain of the limb and is fairly common in the early days of an amputation, for some causes real problems! I'm pleased to say at this stage, i've only been experiencing phantom sensation. it's an incredibly odd thing to get pins and needles in a foot that no longer exists, or having an itchy toe. Even just the feeling of the foot being there. I've already had a couple of moments where I've looked down and taken a moment to work out where my foot is.
My wife is incredible - coming up on Three years ago, I gave Morgan a horrendous experience to deal with when I had my initial accident and she had to help me through an intensive care experience, through to the slow rehab (both in Hospital and continuing at home for the last couple of years), slowly building up further strength, better mobility and sadly discovering the issues of the ankle. There is one thing I hate about this, and that's the fact I'm putting Morgan through this horrific experience once again. The next 6 (ish) weeks we're going to be going through this rehab process once again (which will continue at home after discharge), and it's not fair for her to have to deal with it all again. despite that, she blows me away with her strength, her willingness to support me, her ability to appear with a smile on her face dispite it all. She is an incredible lady!
I'm excited about the future - despite all of the rubbish we are dealing with right now, I genuinely believe we are starting a new journey which is going to be better once we are though the rehab stage. If I can master a prosthetic well (and I'm confident I will), I will not let anything stop me! I'm feeling positive that I should be able to have some real adventures with Morgan. I want to climb again and to paddle again. I want to take morgan to Petra - we were really excited about going to Petra on our honeymoon but when we arrived were then told it would be inaccessible from the wheelchair! Most excitingly, I hope this will allow me to be me more with nieces, nephews, and in due course my own children. To be able go run around in the garden with James, bethan and Harriet and Toby in due course. To be able to carry my own children (when the time comes) without being scared of the ankle giving way and me falling/dropping a child and as they grow up, to do some real family adventures!
And who knows.. Maybe I'll be in Rio 2016! Better get training.
A long journey ahead - I have to remember, its going to take time. It's good and important to be excited about what the future can offer as it gives motivation to push yourself hard but equally, I have to respond to my body and what it is telling me! Rest where rest is needed and be patient as I go through the process.
As the rehab process goes on I'm planing to do some blogging to keep a record of the experience... I know that as I was researching my options I found others accounts of their experience really helpful so maybe sometime in the ffuture this will prove helpful to someone!