Feelings, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…Feelings
Here I am sitting in my not so sexy 1979-style hospital bed in my living room trying to process all the things I’ve been through in the past four weeks. It’s a crazy patchwork quilt of feelings, each one more colorful than the last. Here’s a rough breakdown:
I’m angry that I can’t do everything RIGHT NOW. There is that pesky detail of not having a left leg, but there is also the fact I have Cerebral Palsy which impacts my remaining right leg. As anyone with CP can tell you, your brain and any impacted limbs are like family in a life long dramatic fight: they don’t talk to each other, not even at funerals. So when I need to jump, and my brain tells my right leg to jump, my right leg tells my brain “fuck off, I’ll jump when I damn well want to jump!” Between that and the overwhelming desire to have a leg already, you can see where I begin to get angry.
I’m still sad that I couldn’t make my leg work. It was a good leg and I think I’ve mentioned this: it was my favorite leg. Unfortunately, after six years it was time to put it out of it’s misery. There is a grief that goes along with that, much like the passing of a beloved relative. Even with all my sunshine and positivity, behind closed doors I still grieve for the past. In its youth, my leg was pretty cool.
I have been out in public four times in four weeks and with every outing I have to deal with the stares. I know this will pass, and I’m sure with my personality I will eventually be inviting people over to learn more, but as of right now I feel like a lurching Frankensteinish troll in a wheelchair with no escape. Especially with the Champion Starers: the ones who won’t break eye contact even when you stare back to make them feel uncomfortable. God damn champion weirdos, I can not defeat them yet, I’m still too weak from surgery. BUT I WILL.
Let’s take this past Monday as an example. This is embarrassment with a dash of vulnerability. My lovely mother took me into the city for my surgical follow-up appointment and, as luck would have it, the prosthetist saw me and gave me a shrinker! (More on that later). She has her own doctor’s appointment uptown afterward so she forces me to come upstairs and sit and wait with her. Aside from the vulnerability component (there was a Champion Starer in the waiting room), there was a full blown humiliation when, after an hour of waiting, my mother sent me a text from the exam room to see if I was in pain. I responded honestly with “yes”, but before I finish typing my follow up “but I can wait until we leave”, mom comes running with my pill bottle held up in the air like it’s the Olympic torch, and makes me take them right in front of everyone. There were two old ladies sitting a few seats down who spent the next 20 minutes whispering solemnly about “opioid addiction”. Yikes!
Taking a shower takes a lot out of a girl: nap time. Sitting in a chair for too long takes a lot out of a girl: nap time. Day in the city for doctors appointments takes a lot out of a girl: can I go to bed at 7pm please?
To finally be on the flip side of a two-and-a-half year build up is huge for me. Even though I was emotionally ready and thought it all out, that period of limbo (hehe, limb-o) is killer. But I ultimately ended up here, where I wanted to be. I just hoped I can continue doing it with some grace.
I am so grateful for the friends and family who encourage me. Who lift me up when I feel like I just can’t. The ones who make me plates of food because when you have one leg, making a plate of food with a walker or a wheelchair is sometimes an impossible endeavor. I’m grateful for good vibes and prayers being sent up and for the sheer glee I feel when a string of really bad days turns into one day of feeling really good.
There was joy when I got off the heavy opioids when I was still in the hospital. Joy when I conquered the stairs that repeatedly defeated me in rehab. Joy when I came home to try to resume life with as much normality as I could muster.
Most importantly, there has been joy with every interaction I have had with family, friends and even strangers who support and lift me up through this challenging time. There is joy in little things like being able to do something by myself without asking for anyone’s help. There is joy in moving through the process and getting to the next milestone, like the other day when I got my shrinker—which brought me one step closer to my leg!
I want to say I’m doing really great, but I’m going to take it a bit easier on myself and say I’m doing as well as I can for today, because each day is different and while today was a good day, tomorrow might not be. I’m learning to be gentle with myself and I’m trying not to rush back into everything because that has gotten me in trouble in the past. So here’s to taking it easy, enjoying the process and going with the flow.
If I do things right, I will be walking before you know it.