Monday, 13 May 2013

unveiling the stump!

I realize its been a few days since I was last on here and its fair to say not a huge amount as happened in terms of the leg itself but thats to be expected this early on.  I've rested lots and have been enjoying having my own room and pretty good food while it lasts.  I'm off to Roehampton on Wednesday and will not be in my own room (I wouldn't want to comment on the food quality until I get there).  
I'm not used to it yet as such...

So what has been going on?  I've been doing my physio exercises on a pretty regular basis.  These basically consist of laying in various positions in bed and moving whats left of my leg in various ways for a few reasons; to help keep flexibility good, to keep as much muscle bulk in place as possible, to keep circulation good as possible (and to fill the time I guess..).  I've also been lent a hospital zimmer frame - how cool am I?! to get around my small room on.  I've done trips from bed to toilet, from bed to chair and other variations to and from those destinations.  Its exciting and I mean that genuinely though I realize it might sound a little sarcastic.. What is taking some getting used to is not needing to bed my knee to walk with the zimmer.  Its a little instinctive to bend the knee but of course that's totally unnecessary now my leg is considerably shorter!   Its nice to be able to get out of bed though. 

me, not at my peak! 

We've been playing with what drugs and how many drugs I should have for a while.  I'm told its important to stay as pain free as possible in the early days of an amputation as it helps keep chances of long term issues such as phantom limb pain at bay.  To begin with I was on some decent oral painkillers and a PCA (patients controlled analgesia - I push a button and something stronger than morphine hits my through an IV).  The advantage of this is that if I so desired, I could have more drugs up to every five minutes.  Its biggest downside was when I was asleep. Ill give you an example, on Thursday night I probably fell asleep about midnight and was well pumped with meds. I slept quite well until about four am when I woke up and whilst the four hours sleep were great, whilst sleeping I had of been unable to push my button.  This meant I woke up and was in so much pain.  I was literally lying holding my stump in the air because contact with the pillow it was on was just too painful, so I just watched painkillers drip their way into the IV and into my arm.  It was not a fun way to spend an hour or so.  
We seem to have the drugs/pain better managed now.  Having spoken to the medics, we actually decided to get rid of the PCA (bonus, no lines going in me now), up the strength of the oral meds and have oramorph (oral morphine) as a support drug as required.  Its been fantastic, and pain has been managed incredibly well since I have been on it.  Only real downside is that it leaves me as high as a kite feeling totally detached from the world around me, or sends me close to sleep.  As the pharmacist who visited today to check how I'm doing observed, that doesn't matter really - it seems my uni work is not her priority.  I am still on these drugs so I will blame them for any spelling/grammar/general lack of sense issues in the blog!

I had the treat of turning 25 on Saturday which was as lovely as it could have been all considered.   Well, apart from the new painkillers making me violently throw up first thing but that was before guests arrived so we draw a line under that!  I had Morgan, her auntie Kelly, and various friends come over the course of the day which was totally lovely - and they came with a spectacular cake!  Massively blessed to be visited by Jonny and Fiona, Jonny who had only been
my cake, with candles (right under the smoke alarm!).
discharged from stoke mandeville the day before after a 5 month stay - what a hero!  I cant claim it was the best birthday Ive ever had, but I can say it was the best birthday I've had in hospital, and the best birthday I've ever had with a missing foot so some definite wins there so thanks to all involved, including those who sent cards, gift, Facebook messages, texts etc.  All were very appreciated!  One of the birthday treats from Morgan was to be signed up to do a tough mudder event with some friends (look it up if you dont know!).  This is how awesome my wife is. I've not even got a prosthetic yet and already she has every faith that I can achieve this at some point in the future so me, Matt and Oliver will be doing this sometime soon as the team "five and a half legs" so watch this space. If anyone wants to join us we can always add more legs to the team! 

Beyond the birthday, I have had visitors every day, from my parents, to morgans parents yesterday, another of morgans aunties, friends and Morgan has been up every day. phone calls with a few others also help to take my mind out of the hospital.   The company is fantastic and helping to keep me sane.  There really is only so much day time TV a man can take after all. 

So hows life with the stump.  It remains weird but not terrible I am pleased to say.  I continue to get plenty of phantom sensation but generally not phantom pain which is great! Its very odd getting mild cramp or pins and needles in a foot that no longer exists, but its not painful and that's the key thing.  Morgan is getting used to it as well which is good.  She has touched it a few times which sounds odd but is universally considered a really good step towards becoming used to it.  That's not to say its normal now, far from it.  There are still moments when we are together and Ill stretch my leg and move it about when she is not expecting it and the sight of the stump takes her by surprise and I am swiftly asked to put it down which is fair enough.  Its one thing to get used to it, its another to have me wave the thing in her face after all!  Dan, a friend offered an interesting perspective when he told me "it almost looks too real."  He then explained himself and said because he is so used to seeing such incredible special effects in films and TV he looks at it and thinks, wow that really well done as an effect rather than - whoa you've got no leg.  The crazy world we live in I guess.

Little things surprise me, for example I got out of a hospital gown and into shorts and t-shirt a couple of days ago.  It took me three, repeat THREE goes to put short on on Sunday, simply because you instinctively  go to put the shorts over your foot, the foot not being their meant I miss judged it and missed my leg, simple as! Funny without a doubt, but also really odd!  

Big news of today was that the dressings came off the stump for the first time and I saw it down to the skin.  I'll be honest, I was amazed by how neat and tidy it was.  Its swollen and bruised, but much less so than I was expecting, it actually all looked really neat and tidy!  This surgeon knows what hes doing!  Its now wrapped back up in a much lighter and smaller dressing which is nice but it really threw me.  The original dressing was think and weighty and restricted my knee, so moving my leg felt s little like moving my leg used to.  Now its in a slimline dressing its extraordinary how light my leg feels.  Its like it floats!! I imagine I will feel somewhat differently when I am trying to get used to the weight of a prosthetic... 

I'm thrilled that help and love from others isn't just directed to me at the hospital.  Its been awesome to see the support Morgan has been getting from home from very kind people willing to be around for her, help with walking Poppy, even offering to move in to give her some company and support.  Oliver my brother in law has basically lived there for the last week and its great to know that however much it sucks that I am not at home with my lovely wife, she is being loved and supported by both family and friends in my absence!

Right, reading back, this is really long so I'll sign off as your probably bored, but I will add a link to the video of the stump being unveiled.  Its a bit long, and if your squeamish you might not enjoy the final minute but its there if you want to watch it.  I'd argue its worth watching just to see my surgeon enjoying being filmed - he seemed to love it, and tried to really engage with the camera.  
Hope you enjoyed reading! 

Heres the link, last couple few seconds seem to have been cut which is annoying so I'll add a screenshot below (bit gory, don't scroll down if you don't want to see)! -

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