Much Pain, No Gain

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve written anything and for good reason. Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you just have to take a minute and regroup.

Yeah this is about right (although this guy has TWO legs)

My glorious editor, the guy who makes me sound funny and educated, had been helping us when I first got out of the hospital and it was time for him to return to the city and get moving with his life. It’s not often a friend will stay with you for 4 weeks to make sure there is an extra set of hands so for that I am grateful.

(Editor’s Note: *I’m* the Rachel)


Unfortunately, (and I AM blaming his departure [Editor’s Note: “HEY!”]) my fabulous week of firsts was forgotten as I ended up dealing with crushing phantom pain and wound issues. Sadly, three weeks later, they still persist. It’s very frustrating to be of sound mind and shitty body. After multiple doctor visits and tons of changes in medicine I still have no resolve to the issues, so I’m moving on to a wound care clinic and breathing for the pain because right now it’s all I’ve got.

After eight weeks I’m not nearly as close to my first socket fitting for my leg as I’d hoped to be and I have had to deal with an entire spectrum of emotion:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Anger (this is a big one!)

I thought I was well prepared for this! I CHOSE to amputate my leg. I prepped, I prayed, I had support. I knew phantom pain was a very real possibility, but I did not realize how awful it would be.  It takes everything you have. It steals your energy, your joy, your strength. It leaves you in a heap on your bed clinging to the sheets trying to hold on before it knocks you out once again.

I have tried everything I know to deal with it. I have done:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Tapping and touch therapy
  • Mirror therapy
  • Prescription meds
  • Brutally squeezing my finance’s hand
  • Movies/games/music
  • Positioning
  • Wearing a shrinker
  • Knitting

There are only two things on that list that actually helped: breathing, and…knitting. Yes kids, I knit my ass off.

I have already made a blanket and almost finished a scarf, and I’m not stopping. Now, I’m new to knitting, so I’m not fast, and I have to concentrate (especially if it’s a repetitive stitch change). That this actually helps me work through the pain has been a wonderful discovery—see, this post is not all bad news!

I now have something to keep me occupied in my down time, which is limited now, after physical therapy, the wound clinic, work, kids and workouts. I also have a new perspective on pain: I lived in low to moderate pain for six years after cancer surgery and radiation, but the pain I have now is searing, blinding pain. I see why people take narcotics! I personally won’t take narcotics and I’m existing on a ridiculous regimen of seizure medications that they swear helps with phantom pain. I’m not convinced yet and I’m pursuing natural alternatives in addition to the drugs but they take weeks to kick in. So for now, I will stay as active as I can, knit like crazy (scarves and blankets for Christmas!) and pray that I get a little closer to getting fit for my prosthetic!

This delay is certainly teaching me to be patient and changing my way of doing things, but the most amazing thing is, it is starting to stoke a fire in my belly. I am more resolved than ever to push through and get moving. I am starting to daydream about running and rock climbing and that is what keeps me going.