Mum looks like a pack horse as she walks into my room. She has brought a plethora of things to brighten up my room and lift my spirits.
I have a novelty flower fan, a mini Christmas tree, a squishy cupcake and my favourite, a sock monkey that repeats everything you say in a high pitched voice.
We are laughing raucously and the nurses come in perplexed wanting to know what all the fuss is about.
In a ward of oldies, I am the loudest patient.
Nat the physio stops by for my first session. She notes my less then stylish hospital gown and laughs that she bets I can’t wait to get into my Peter Alexander PJs. She couldn’t be more right. It’s hard to rock a hospital gown.
She explains the weight baring process which will consist of daily sessions where I will attach a piece to the end of my leg that will look like a large crutch tip and push down on a set of scales. It will start at five kilos and every four days increase by five kilos until I can push down half of my body weight. The goal is to hit my target of 30kg by the time I go to rehab on January 7th. This is a longer period then has been normal for the others but since I have a tiny femur they want to take their time with me and ensure it is strong enough to take each load increase and eventually the leg.
While this is the goal, she warns me sternly not to go too hard and push through too much pain.
It’s only been a day of not doing my regular physio exercises and I feel so weak and they feel so much harder. My leg feels noticeably heavier with the metal piece and the leg extensions feel twice as hard and completely exhausting. I know it’s only day two but I feel frustrated with myself.
The night before I had been showing the nurses some videos on Facebook of Jaime, the bilateral amputee I met during my first stage, walking with his new legs. They were amazed and in awe. It is an inspiring view. Every time I watch it I get a shiver of excitement, that will be me in a few weeks.
My curtain is pulled open and it’s like the video has come to life and in walks Jaime on his new cyborg legs. Decked out in bold red shoes, he looks incredible. He is aided by a crutch but his gait is smooth and looks effortless.
He is dressed in his trademark cheeky grin and I couldn’t be happier to see him. It’s almost like a glimmer of my future.
He stresses the importance of doing the exercises the physio has set as they will greatly help when it comes to walking. I mentally pat myself on the back for my diligence of keeping them up twice a day no matter how I am feeling.
He asks whether I will be getting the Genium or C-Leg. He is walking on the Genium. Each leg costs $150,000. A C-Leg will set you back $70,000. I tell him I can’t really afford either but Stephan is working on something that will be almost as good. I’m not sure if this is entirely true but it will no doubt be a step up from what I was walking with before.
He assures me even if I can’t have a top of the line leg, I have the advantage of having my natural leg so walking for me won’t be as hard.
Having been the first to have this surgery at Norwest and being a double amputee there have been a couple of stories about him in the paper and like a celebrity he is recognized when he has been out and about.
“People tell me they recognize me from my neck tattoo,” he says with a hearty laugh.
“Really, not the two bionic legs?” He laughs again.
He gives me a few tips of caring for the wound and says he noticed an increase in muscle tone in his stumps fairly quickly. This excites me.
He heads off back home to the UK next week so with a final hug and promises to keep in touch he is off. I only hope I can walk as good as him when my time comes.
When the nurse comes to change the dressing I investigate the wound for the first time. It is a confronting sight. I can see why the risk of injection is so high after this stage. The wound is literally open around the piece of metal. It is not oozy or weepy or bloody but it is open. Hello there flesh. It’s going to take a little getting used to.
There is a flash of self-pity and doubt. It’s uncomfortable and slightly unsettling to look at. How long will it be like this and how long till it feels normal again?
The lady that comes to take my blood in the afternoon recognizes me from last time. She is bubbling over with excitement for me. She tells me when she was 18 she had a motorbike accident that severely damaged her leg. After countless operations it is functional for daily life.
“But if this surgery had of been around back then I would have opted to have it amputated,” she tells me wistfully.
I had packed my iPad with episodes of The Walking Dead despite H’s warnings that this was not the show to be watched in hospital.
I realize I might have been wise to heed his warning, or at least wait a few days till I was off the heavy drugs.
That night my dreams are filled with drugged out dreams of eating my own flesh. They are a little too vivid for my liking. I should have listened to H.