Lying on a bed dressed in a gown, fluffy white robe and paper undies, it feels reminiscent of a trip to a day spa. But instead of waiting for a beautician to rub lotions on my face I’m about to have a piece of metal attached to the metal rod already in my bone. They will open my stump and attach the piece of metal almost like a surgical game of Lego.
Enya music is playing softly in the background of the pre-op waiting room.
Mum, who is sitting beside me, leans in and whispers, “it sounds like waiting to go to Heaven.”
The laughter rises and bubbles forth and we are in fits of uncontrollable giggles when the nurse comes to double check some paper work.
It’s funny what nerves do to you.
We’ve been up since 4.30am for the 6am check in. I am nervous but amidst the nerves I find myself slammed with excitement. This is the business end and it’s one step closer to walking.
The nurse informs us that this time AJ will not be the anesthetist; instead a guy called Paul Whiting will be filling in.
I am gripped with panic. What is this about? AJ was so good last time and knew exactly what he was doing. Plus I thought he was part of Dr Al Muderis’s osseointegration team. Why swap in an understudy now?
Dr Whiting comes in for chat. He fumbles and bumbles with the curtain.
“I swear I work here,” he says with a small laugh.
AJ was a flamboyant, overly excited guy and Dr Whiting is as opposite to this as steak is to ice-cream.
He explains since I don’t suffer from phantom pain he will give me a general the second stage. The surgery won’t be as big this time as the hard work has already been done.
Then it’s time to be wheeled into the theatre prep room. It’s like a scene out of a medical drama. Suddenly out of almost nowhere three good-looking wards men appear to push me down to theatre.
It is an obstacle course of equipment as we wheel down the maze like corridors.
This time the prep time in theatre is nothing like last time. There are very little jokes as Dr Whiting struggles to find a vein suitable for a cannula. This is proving to be a common theme. I resign myself to the fact my arms afterwards are going to resemble a bruised and battered housewife.
He seems very interested in my right hand and the surgery I have had previously, umming and ahhing as he examines it.
I can hear Dr Al Muderis in the theatre joking around while Adam Lambert’s Never Close Our Eyes plays.
I am wheeled in to theatre and wham! The next minute I am waking up in recovery.
I look at the nurses puzzled.
“Is that it? It is over?” I ask confused.
There was no warning of the needle going in or any count back from ten.
It feels like the morning after a big night out where you wake up puzzled and unaware of what events went down.
I lift the sheet tentatively.
I am a fully fledged cyborg.
There is a bandage wrapped around my leg but I can clearly see the piece of metal that will forever stick out of my leg and the circular plastic dish that sits above it resting between the metal and the skin of the bottom of my stump.
Like a sledge hammer to the leg I am slammed with pain.
The nurse gives me a shot of morphine in my stomach and I feel myself drifting off into a blissful drugged sleep.
Arriving on the ward I felt less high and less peppy then the previous round and I apologise to my parents for not being as entertaining nor amusing this time around.
I text my friends that there is now a fully fledged cyborg among their ranks but I don’t feel as high or as up for a chat as I did after the first stage.
I take a picture but at this stage I felt nervous about showing it to anyone. I myself found it a little confronting so I worry what other people will think. I nervously text it to one of my closest friends but leave it at that for now.
If they found it freaky, they don’t let on. Instead they seem excited for me. I feel relived.
The nurses recognize me and greet me like old friends as they hook me up to the ketamine.
I look out the window and while I am in a different room I can see the Transformer shaped bush blowing in the breeze. It’s almost like he is waving, welcoming me back like an old friend.
I can see a couple of wild rabbits hopping about on the hill outside but every time I point them out to my parents, the rabbits stop still.
My parents looks at me knowingly with a look that says “yep you are high on drugs.”
I wonder myself if I can really see them.
It’s only when one of the nurses mentions to look out for the rabbits that my sanity is reaffirmed.
I feel overwhelmingly sleepy, the sort where you feel you have no control over your eyes or body. The nausea sets in and I think ‘oh no here we go again already.’
Thankfully it doesn’t last long.
The nurse asks me my pain level. Surprisingly I’m not in much pain at all. I tell it’s sitting at about a two.
She tells me that this time they really want to knock the pain hard when it firsts hits so they won’t need to load me up on extreme amounts of drugs if I wait till it is unbearable. She explains this is probably what made me so nauseas last time.
Dr Al Muderis stops by late in the evening to check on me.
He taps rather forcefully on the piece of metal sticking out. The nurses look horrified.
I can feel him tapping it. I can feel the vibrations in my bone. It feels weird and makes me feel a little queasy in the stomach. It reminds me of when I first got my belly button pierced and would twist the barbell.
He seems happy with his handiwork. The bone has integrated and fused fully.
“You will be able to feel the ground when you walk,” he tells me.
This blows my mind. I have never known what it felt like to put two feet on the ground and feel it like a regular person. I remember as a teenager asking Mum what this felt like. What it felt like to wake up in the morning and simply swing your legs out of bed and feel the ground. At the time she had simply said it would feel the same as what I felt with my left leg.
But still the concept of both feet feeling it boggles my brain.
How simple, but how unbelievably cool.
“Your hip will piston,” he remarks casually as he leaves the room.
Oh great, that. I think to myself. But for now I push it aside. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I read an email from a friend back home. She asks how I was going and mentions that she is super sore from getting dumped by a wave the day before.
I laugh to myself. I have just had my leg cut open and a piece of metal attached. I think I win.