If you would like to start my amputee journey from the beginning click here
Now my nerve block was out, and they were happy that everything had gone to plan, it was time for me to go back up to a normal ward. I had really got on with the people that were in my room in the major trauma unit and the nurses knew this. As I’d had a bit of a hard time coping with the amputation, I think the nurses took pity on me and kept my bed free for me so I could be in the same room.
At the time, it was the hottest summer that I think we had ever had, and the world cup was on. Our room was one of the only rooms that had windows that actually opened and a TV in it, so I was pleased to be back.
It was quite late on in the day when I got back to the ward, and everyone was settling in for the evening and the brew trolley was just coming round. I was visited by a nurse who told me it was time for my catheter to come out! After the ordeal I had getting one in there I was not looking forward to this at all. Surprisingly, compared to going in, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Don’t get me wrong though, someone pulling a long tube out of your pee hole is as uncomfortable as it sounds.
Now bear in mind, I hadn’t manually peed in nine days. And pee wise, those nine days were brilliant, I drank a ridiculous amount of water and I do think I felt better for it. I was not prepared for the faff that was peeing in a bed though.
And yes, I am very aware that I’m about to tell you another horrendous bodily function story that you don’t really want to hear, but here we are.
We had all drank our evening brews and had our wonderfully strong pain meds for the evening. Our curtains had been drawn, the lights were down, and we had done our little house on the prairie good nights. It was time. I needed a wee.
In hospital, you have these cardboard angled bottles to pee in and I got the idea behind them. I am laying there peeing, and it’s filling and filling and I’m starting to get a bit worried at how much this thing can hold. I am tilting it to get as much in there as I can, worried it’s going to overflow. Luckily it didn’t, although…
I stood the bottle up on the bedside table that you have next to you, which when you’re laying down is above your head height. I’m just sorting myself out and then I heard a thump, and a warm liquid splashed all over my back. Yes – the bottle was supposed to lay down rather than stand up. All I could say was “fuck!” I heard someone from another bed ask if I was alright. I replied with “I’ve just spilt a full bottle of piss on myself!”
I rang my buzzer, and a nurse came. Again, all I could say was that I was so sorry. I explained what had happened and her and another nurse came and again, washed me down, changed the bedding and mopped the floor. All the while with me apologising profusely in the background.
I will continue to repeat it. The staff in LGI major trauma unit are fantastic.
The next day, which would be day 10 by this point, was time for my dressings to be changed. I was still not ready to look at it and had full on anxiety. I was asked if I minded a student nurse do the dressings, which I didn’t at all, but I was reassured she was literally a couple of weeks off finishing and becoming a nurse nurse.
She was very nice and told me that it was the first time she had seen an amputation so really appreciated the opportunity. I told her that it was fine, and it would be the first time for me as well. I did explain to her that I hadn’t seen it yet and that I really didn’t want to but felt as though I had to.
She started cutting the bandages off and I can’t even swallow as I’m welling up. She gets all the way to the end and pulls them away and there was like a plasticky covering over the wounds to stop them sticking to the bandages. This was good as it was almost like looking at it in stages.
The first thing I noticed is how massive it was. Obviously, stupidly swollen, but also a really strange uneven shape. One side was nice and rounded and the other had an actual corner. It was also 100 different colours, from bruising, blood, grazes, and marker pens.
We both spent a few minutes kind of getting used to it and talking about all the different wounds and what they were from while she cleaned it up. I obviously got her to take a picture of it as well, which for the squeamish among you will have already spotted below.
She bandaged me back up and thanked me again for letting her do it. I feel it was a good thing for me that we were both curious and wanted to learn something from it. It helped get me over that hurdle of seeing it for the first time without throwing up all over it.
I was visited by some physiotherapists again, they told me that they were going to give me a wheelchair, which was another first for the day. They just needed me to do a few exercises with them to prove that I could get myself up off the floor and back in it if I fell out. Which, considering I had a broken collar bone, and a broken rib, were surprisingly easy.
The pain of the broken bones was, almost, completely masked by the amputation pain. As well as the drugs of course, which I would later find out to be a problem and cause some issues with recovery.
Shortly after my exercises they brought me my very first disabled vehicle. Just the fact that I could, for the first time in ten days, get out of bed and move around was awesome. I was over the moon with it. These tiny little wins made such a massive impact on my mood. It also meant I didn’t have to piss in a bottle and could go to the toilet!
I stayed in that chair wheeling back and forth, annoying everybody, from the moment they gave it to me until the very last minute I was getting into bed. The evening tea trolley came round and the woman pushing it came over and said, “whatever you do, keep smiling like that, it’s fantastic to see.”
Late that night a guy had been brought in and put in the bed opposite me. He was clearly in a lot of pain but we all kept making eye contact so I asked him what had happened. He said “I nearly chopped my leg off with a chop saw” and without even thinking I lifted my stump up and said “you could have tried harder than that!”
Their faces dropped and were so apologetic, but I couldn’t stop laughing. I had to apologise though for my newly found inappropriate sense of humour.
He explained he was a carpenter and had been boarding a loft and using a chop saw. The chop saw bit the wood and the arm jumped and went across his thigh chopping down to the bone. He was a nice bloke, and luckily was straight in and out of surgery and was able to hobble out on crutches after 2 days.
If you find you need some support, don’t be afraid to speak to friends and family. If this isn’t possible please consider giving the Amputation foundation a shout at amputationfoundation.org or even get in touch with me via my contact page
Next post can be found HERE