I’d Give my Right Leg Just to Feel Healthy Again…

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?


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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18 Responses to I’d Give my Right Leg Just to Feel Healthy Again…

  1. nanci bogan says:

    So good to hear from you, Bret! I have been wondering how you are doing. I hope the pain is being managed with the meds. I have been reading your blog for a little while, but new to actually signing on and leaving a reply! love to you and your family…nanci bogan, batavia ny

  2. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Bret,
    Onward and upward. Here’s to a quick recovery and rapid return to the road and adventure!!
    It was great meeting your mom yesterday. I’m glad she had a chance to meet Chris as well. Hope we get a chance to catch up before you return to your road warrior ways.
    God bless.

  3. Here is to a fast recovery! It sounds like you have an amazing support system in your wife, family & friends and that makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing your personal story and I look forward to reading all about your new travel adventures very soon!

  4. Kristen "Brown" Greisch says:

    I have been following your journey, literally praying… something I’m not very good at. I’ve been praying for you and your family. I was praying for the words to express the gratitude and respect I have for you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to go on this journey with you. To sit in the shadows and see your joy and pain, and experience the wonder of life and this great country from your perspective. I wish there were words of encouragement I could express, some little quote or anecdote that could make you smile or just lift your spirits just a bit. But in the end, you are the one lifting my spirits and putting a smile in my heart. Here are the best words I can think of… Thank you!

    You can do this! If anyone can, you can!


  5. John and Linda Ann Ventura says:

    your courage is inspiring. you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    John and Linda Ann (neighbors of your mom and dad)

  6. Tracy Terwilliger says:

    You are a rock and an inspiration! Can’t wait to see you on (or I should say read) your next adventure in Alaska! Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Stay strong, stay positive, always keep your family and friends close and you will be “riding in good direction” in no time.

    Orthopaedic Coder

  7. jean loughran says:

    wait wait don’t tell me
    this american life
    the moth
    planet money
    stuff you should know
    fresh air
    Great stories to load on your ipod, no charge from Itunes. Might help. Way better than tv.

  8. Judy Lynd says:

    Keep those spirits up and may your road to recovery be a smooth one. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you and all the family.

  9. Kelly says:

    Glad to see your post and that you are resting comfortably. Each day will get better and bring you closer to your next adventure. God Bless.

  10. Wendy Kruse says:

    I have been checking the blog almost hourly for another update. I am so glad to hear you are doing good! You have been in our thoughts constantly. Keep your positive attitude and your strong will. You will do amazing!

  11. Ashley says:

    Welcome back, Bret! You truly are amazing – your candid honesty and strength continue to amaze and inspire. I am hopeful that you have been getting plenty of rest and are on the road to recovery. So, so happy that you are back online!

  12. Jack and Anita Sheehan says:

    You might think you look a little bit stooped over in that first picture, Bret, but rest assured, whether on one leg or two, you stand very tall among men! Our thoughts and prayers and love are with you all.

  13. Jessica says:

    Look who’s making jokes already… Keep that fantastic attitude and it will go a long way in expediting your recovery.

    Love to you and the family. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  14. ML says:

    It has been an honor to follow your blog throughout this journey. Your strength of character and wit do indeed make you a man among men. May this day be easier than yesterday and all the yesterdays before. Continue your ride in a good direction. I look forward to hearing of your progress.

  15. Loretta says:

    Bret, you’re amazing! God has blessed you with an unquenchable and inspiring spirit. I can’t wait to read about your adventures in Alaska!

    Give my love to the birthday girl! (a day late – sorry, Shannon).

  16. david curry says:

    you are incredibly brave bret, i hope things went well and you are recovering, look forward to seeing you soon.


  17. Wendy says:

    I just love your sense of humor. So glad to hear that you are doing okay after your surgery. My thoughts and prayers are with you every moment.

  18. Carolina DeHond says:

    Even though we have been able to visit you, it was good to read the details to understand exactly what you have been through! Wow, you are a trooper!! We continue to pray for quick recovery!
    Our best,
    Craig and Carolina DeHond

    Ps. I am so jealous of your pictures in th eoperating room! I didn’t think they could take pictures in there!

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