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I had finally got some sleep, eaten and had a brew in my new room. As I said I didn’t really know what was going on with my emotions, a mix between anaesthetic, lack of sleep and losing a leg I suppose. But I did feel more cheerful which is the main thing. Although sleep did seem to do one thing…
As the first visitors showed themselves that morning, I started to feel a bit off; sweating, uncomfortable, dizzy. Then I realised – I hadn’t had a poop in like 3 or 4 days! I quickly called for a nurse and hustled everyone out. She handed me what can only be described as a shallow cardboard plate. “What am I supposed to do with that?!”
“Hover” was her response.
Bear in mind I’ve had my leg amputated and didn’t want to put pressure on it, a broken collar bone on the same side and a broken rib. I managed to lean on the safety bars on the bed, reach above my head and pull on the head of the bed to lift myself up on my right leg and started to go. And I am shaking, thinking I can’t hold myself here for long and it just kept coming. The more I went, the higher I was having to lift myself up above the cardboard poo plate and the more my arms and leg wanted to give way.
The problem I then had was that when I finished, I needed to push the call button for the nurse, but both my hands were propping me up above the mountainous poo plate and struggling. I just about managed to hold myself up by pushing my back into the bed to get the buzzer. My arms were shaking, and the young trainee nurse took her time. I dread to think what was going through her mind when she had to pick that up to get rid of it. All I could do was apologise; I apologised to a lot of people many, many times.
Two nurses then came back to clean up after that traumatic experience.
I have been debating telling you all about that for a very long time, but I settled on the thought of if I had to experience it you all had to hear about it! As well as it being a relatively funny story, it’s not a part of this whole process that people would usually talk about, but it does add to the stress of the whole thing.
I had a visit from the physiotherapists that morning to get me moving my (now much shorter) leg, which I had been doing my best to avoid.
The first time really bending your knee is very odd as your leg is so much lighter. You’re also paranoid you’re going to damage something, and there’s the fact you can still kind of feel that your leg is there. They explained to me that I needed to keep my knee moving from fully straight to as bent as I could get it, so that I didn’t lose any of the range of movement in it. I got an exercise plan to do while I was in bed and I was under orders to do them every morning.
I did stick to this, and I am very glad I did. I know now how important keeping moving is, even if you’re stuck in a bed or a chair. It did make a huge difference in how I was feeling, mentally as well physically, even though I was only doing what are essentially stretches laying down.
At about midday a nurse came in and told me she had to remove the nerve block from my stump. I was instantly very anxious; I hadn’t seen my leg yet as it was covered in bandages right up to my thigh. I told her I hadn’t seen it yet and that I wasn’t really sure I wanted to. She assured me she would do her best to not take it all the way off.
As she started to remove the bandages, I was getting more and more nervous. I really didn’t want to see it. She was cutting the bandages very carefully down the front of my leg and as she got down to the bottom of my stump she stopped. I knew as soon as she stopped she had cut through the IV tube. I asked her if she had, and she just said “no, no it’s fine,” and she got up and left the room. 5 minutes went by, then 10 minutes… it didn’t look like she was coming back. I was laying there still not wanting to see my leg that was now two thirds uncovered, with what I was sure was a cut IV sticking out of it. She came back an hour later, still chewing the last of her lunch. She sat down and I said “That was a long time, did you panic because you cut through it?” she just nodded and proceeded to find the end of the nerve block and pull it out.
I didn’t have to look at what was left of my leg, she just bandaged me back up and left. It was something I should have really got out the way sooner rather than later, but I just couldn’t face it.
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
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