“Did you walk in here today?” The question, proposed by a young orderly who happened to be pushing my stretcher down long hospital hallway, took me by surprise.
“Yeah,” I replied, unsure where his question had come from.
“Then why are you having your leg cut off?”
Oh, now I got it. He had read my chart and it didn’t add up. Why would a healthy looking, thirty seven year old mom to four young children ever choose to walk into a hospital and have a limb cut off?
The answer was complicated yet simple.
“My left foot has been twisted most of my life and I think I can get a better life if I replace it with an artificial leg.”
That was it. My decision in a nutshell for a curious hospital worker. No terrible car accident or flesh eating infection to blame it on. No complications of diabetes or valiant military battle story to tell. I chose this day and this surgery. And I was ready to live with the outcome.
My whole life I consciously decided to not let my twisting foot dictate my happiness. I spent a lot of mental energy hiding its deformity and dysfunction but I plugged away at finding fulfillment in things I could do despite a bum foot. Down deep I somehow knew that life was all about choices and fulfillment was not about physical abilities.
One thought percolated in the back of my brain from the time I was a child. Why can’t we just cut it off and start over? Technology wasn’t ready for my question in the seventies but by the end of the millenium I began to see changes. After much research I knew it was time. Time to make a really big decision and hope for big time results.
It was hard to find a surgeon who would cut off a deformed, but healthy limb. There was no life and death decision to be made. It was a quality of life decision and it had potential lawsuit written all over it. But it only took one trusting doctor and two hours in the operating room to put into motion one of the biggest choices of my life.
It may be hard to believe, but I’ve had no regrets. I have carried this title of amputee for five years now and not one tear has been shed over the decision. My titanium leg does much more than my old flesh and bone leg ever could. I have gained mobility I thought had vanished forever.
There were no guarantees. But I knew that I couldn’t sit on the couch and grow more mushy with each passing year if there were options for change. Even if those options were hard and scary. . It was just a foot. Just a mess of flesh and bone. And in the end I found that the more I was willing to lose the more I had to gain.
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