It’s Friday night. My hair is straightened, I’m all dressed up and I’m heading out. This is what real life is about. I had forgotten about this.
It’s Ali’s last night here before she graduates from cyborg walking school and we’re heading out to dinner.
It feels good to get out in the real world and I catch a glimpse of what my life will be like in a couple of weeks. It looks good. I can feel my excitement returning.
After my chats this week with Chris and talking with Ali about body image it really cements the need for me to not only accept my body and my leg but to love it.
I have spent so much of my life trying to hide, wanting to blend in and be as normal as possible. That is largely part of the reason I jumped at the chance of this surgery. The chance for normalcy. Or as close as possible to it. But I have spent too long feeling ashamed and inadequate when really I should have been feeling proud. It’s time to stop that shame, that feeling of being inadequate and not good enough.
No I am not perfect, I am flawed. But a flawed diamond is worth more than a perfect pebble.
Yes my hip is non-existent but it is incredible in what it can do if you were to judge it by the x-ray.
In my life I have achieved more than what many two-legged people have. I go to the gym more than a lot of my able-bodied friends and I have never let an obstacle get in my way.
Yes, this body has served me well really.
Suddenly this being comfortable in my own skin seems like a possibility and taking my leg off at work seems like something I will be able to manage.
After the chat with Chris earlier today I already feel more confident in myself. He is right, life is too short to waste worrying about what people might think of me.
The people who mind, don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind.
Of this surgery, this whole journey Chris told me it was a life-changing event.
“There are things in your life you will look back on and you will be able to pin-point the moment they changed you,” he said.
I have already had a few of these moments but he is right. This is huge. This whole experience has already changed me in many ways and has changed the direction of my life.
“Don’t give up on your goals. You might not get there next week but you will get there. You are the most motivated person I know,” he said.
“Don’t let this define you.”
He told me that Stefan had mentioned that looking back most of the other cyborgs barely remember the rehab stage. It all becomes a blur once the incredible gains in real life set in.
Being out tonight with Ali I am reminded again of real life and how good it can be. I think rehab has become such a bubble where I focus on such small movements that I had lost sight of the big picture and just what this surgery will mean. But talking to her about life, love and legs I can feel the excitement that had been there earlier in the week returning. And I can feel my spark reignited.
My life really has changed and right now the future looks bright.
This time last year I had no idea this was in my future so looking forward to the coming year, it looks glittering and shiny with possibility. It holds so much potential.
Discussing old legs and the way we used to walk it struck me one of the reasons I had trouble at first telling Chris when he would ask if I was in pain. And why I have continually pushed through the pain despite his warnings not to.
My whole life I have lived with pain. It is there everyday. From the moment I would put my old leg on until the moment I took it off. Like static on the TV I just try to drown it out. Block it with other distractions. Pain is a normal way of life and pushing through it is just as much a way of living as is exercising and eating healthy. This is why I push through so much pain here. It seems only natural. Anything a five or below on the pain scale is normal, manageable and not really worth mentioning.
There were many days where at work I would limit my trips to the bathroom, as the short walk was simply just too painful.
During my uni days I lived about 500m from campus and each day I would leave half an hour before each class. Not because I was slow walking there but I would need the time to visit the bathroom to change the bandaids on my many rubs and to have cry. That was the level of pain I endured on a daily basis.
But once I master this new leg, break in this wild brumby, that pain will be a thing of the past. A distant memory.
After the tough last few days I feel properly excited for the future again. Life really is going to be amazing. The rest of my life is going to be the best of my life.
I am a completely different person to who I was before I came down for this surgery. I still have far to go but I am far from who I once was. It has been a profound experience really.
I can’t believe just this morning I even entertained the idea, even if it was only for a brief second, of giving up.
As Michelle Bridges always says, “with every breakdown comes a break through.”
Gosh, in terms of soul searching and personal growth this whole osseointegration business is better than an Eat, Pray, Love style trip around the world. Maybe this needs to be mentioned in the brochure.
Osseointegration: it will change not just your leg but also your life.