Last Lasts and First Firsts

Yesterday I drove for the first time since having my amputation. It’s been five weeks since I was behind the wheel of car, and I’ve been itching for some independence!

It’s funny how attached we are to the idea of “firsts”, even when it comes to babies, to keep ourselves motivated. If firsts are all we need to keep moving then I’m happy to have them. Well, them, and some sour watermelon candy, and a large glass of wine. Your mileage may vary.

Back in June/July, everything revolved around “lasts”: last time at the shore on two legs, last day at work on two legs, last time my partner and children would see me on two legs and the very emotional last steps ever on my own two legs as I got myself onto the operating table. The emotions were high, the tears fast and furious.

Ugly Cry #…fuck it, I’ve lost count. One million, probably

Thank god for the amazing anesthesiology assistant who told me I would be fine and lovingly wiped my tears away as they were strapping me in. Lasts were certainly hard (I’m actually crying as I type this) but they are behind me now and I’m working towards much happier things.

And now the lasts have transitioned into a bunch of firsts, and firsts are great motivators to do more! They propelled me through the ICU, including the first time I sat up and moved to the edge of the bed. They got me through critical care, including the first hops in a walker, and first hops in a walker to the bathroom (and yes, my bare ass was out on display, you’re all welcome).

 

These firsts then led me to rehab where I sailed through dressing myself for the first time, and completely and totally failed to sail through climbing stairs (not my best effort). All of this gave me hope that I wouldn’t always be behind schedule; that things would take a turn and get significantly better. And they did. It’s those tiny celebrations that made the setbacks, pain and sadness bearable.

The firsts haven’t stopped yet either, Since I returned home, here are some of my firsts, in no particular order:

  • first poop (on my own—no medicinal assistance!)
  • first shower (you’d be proud too if you had one leg and only sponge baths for 17 days!)
  • first meal that I cooked for the family on one leg (not as easy as it sounds)
  • first ladies night out (woohoo!)
  • first full day out in the city (with no nap!)
  • first residual limb shrinker (I’m shrinking as I write this, and I bet you are jealous)
  • first drive (but you already knew that one)

Of course, because I’m me, I’m a tiny bit disappointed that that list isn’t longer. But even as it is, those firsts that helped get me through all of the other setbacks. Without those moments of success I’m not sure I would have been able to keep going some days. Sometimes the pain is blinding or so persistent you can’t focus. Sometimes when all your gains are taken away you don’t want to push through. That’s when you have to hang on tight to the things that you have been able to accomplish, no matter how small they may seem. They are little bits of light that start to break through at the end of what seems like a very dark tunnel.

And there are many more firsts that are coming, and even if it takes longer than I anticipated, I will cherish everyone.  Before you know it I will get my first prosthetic and take my first steps.  No matter how long it takes me I would say those are pretty great firsts to hold out for.