Friday morning, Shannon and I left Pultneyville at 4:45 AM in order to make it to Strong on time for my early morning surgery. The last few weeks there has been no question in my mind that amputating my right leg was the right thing to do in order to maximize my quality of life. However, it was still a quiet ride in as the reality of how different my life would be by the end of the day began to settle in. As we rolled through the basement of the hospital to the surgical unit, it was important to me that we stop and capture my last moment standing on two feet. Given the pain and stiffness in my right leg, this was as tall as I could stand. In the next couple of weeks I hope to follow this up with my first photo on one leg standing taller and stronger!
My confidence toward surgery finally started to thaw a bit as I changed into a gown and laid down on the hospital bed. Looking for some last minute reassurance, I asked Shannon, Mom, Dad, and Ryan if this was the right thing to be doing? From the quiet responses, I’m assuming that they all needed this to be my decision. I said goodbye to all but Shannon, who escorted me to the pre-op area. One step closer to the operating room, it was a relief to run into a familiar and extremely supportive face, Laurie, my pre-op nurse. Once again with the all-star surgical team, Drs. O’Keefe, Baumhauer, Mitten, and Michalko, I knew I couldn’t be in better hands. But I somehow still felt nervous that the other side of this surgery would be much different from the previous. That’s why I was relieved to get the initial anesthesia injection and enter complete relaxation. From there the last thing I remember is a brief look at the operating room. (Thanks for the photos Dr. Mitten!)
For the patient it doesn’t matter if the surgery takes 5 minutes or 5 hours, the lights are turned back on just as quickly as they are turned off. This particular surgery took about 5 hours, but in my head it was only moments before I was in the recovery room. Every time I wake from surgery, my first response is, where is my family? Fortunately, after the surgery when I would need them most, we were reunited quickly. As I lay there in the room surrounded by my family and friends, I could see as plain as day that there was only one leg underneath the sheet in front of me. This was enough for the first day and I had no interest in exploring any further, so I just tried to relax and get my pain under control. Maybe the hardest part is behind me?