Retrospective: a look back at March 31st 2015
The morning of Brendan’s operation came around fast. He had been in progressively worse pain for weeks. I began to fear the pain would kill him before he made it to the operating theatre. On one of the worst nights he had, only days before we were to leave for the city, I held him as tightly as I could through the night as he wreathed in pain. Somewhere in the early hours of the morning, he looked up at me as he cried. Through gritted teeth, he said, “only a couple of days to go, only a couple of days to go.” He knew when his leg was amputated, the pain would be gone. That was heartbreaking!
On the morning of his operation, Sue and Michael met us in the hotel’s basement car park at 6:15 am to take us to the hospital. Luckily it was just up the road. Brendan’s pain was so severe now he had to lay on the ground in the car park while we waited for them to come down in the next elevator. The extremely high doses of pain medication prescribed were no longer effective. The tumour had grown so large, his leg was bent at the knee and couldn’t be straightened. It had been in this position for some weeks.
It was a long day; at last, he was resting comfortably after his operation. He looked good, and I told him so. His leg was gone. Nothing can prepare you for that, but he was the same Brendan he’d always been. He had colour but was still very groggy from the anaesthetic. It was now he told me he woke from the anaesthetic crying and didn’t know why. He realised it was because he couldn’t feel any pain. He was free!
Sue, Mike and I stayed until visiting hours were over. When we got to the elevator, Sue said to me: “are you Ok?” I heard myself say yes but felt an overwhelming surge of grief moving through my body like a rumbling train. My heart had quickened, and I felt faint. I collapsed into their arms, sobbing uncontrollably. As they held me up, I was aware of the lift door opening and closing. I kept pressing the button, although too distraught to actually go anywhere; I was trying to get into the lift so Brendan wouldn’t hear me crying.
Time has passed quickly since that day, and today I’m celebrating all of the challenges my husband has overcome in the last year. He walked out of the hospital on one leg and a pair of crutches just 14 days after his operation and hasn’t stopped since!
Along with jumping on a trampoline with the kids, he can still paddle out the back on his surfboard and catch a wave or body surf. He tinkers with our cars. He still works hard at getting commando fit, and yes, he can dance. His chemotherapy is ongoing, and he tires easily. He is sun-sensitive due to his medication. And ease of mobility and comfort with his prosthetic leg is a work in progress. But he has come a long way. We all have.
There are some challenges ahead – tumours to be treated and a prosthetic to be mastered. Learning to drive a car modified to his disability. Accepting that not only does he have cancer, now he has a disability too. Mowing his own lawn and getting back to work – and he’s getting there, slowly but surely.
Everything takes a bit longer to do now, but he’s still doing it, and that makes us both happy.
Life’s Good and Hope is Limitless.
Interesting Fact: since losing his leg Brendan gets phantom leg syndrome. He still feels like his leg is there most of the time, and he gets itchy toes – or an itchy knee and sometimes some shooting pain. He says it feels like the leg is still bent in the same position it was in before amputation, and he has tried to straighten the phantom out but can only move it a fraction. He can, however, move it from side to side! Strange but true.
I can only imagine how tricky this makes trying to walk on his prosthetic. He can’t feel the phantom leg all the time? But when it occurs, he has full awareness of it.
I find it fascinating, but not unusual, to know that he can still feel his leg, even though physically it isn’t there. And so do his medical team, as apparently it’s not something that happens with every amputation. The human body is a true mystery.
You can find more information on Sarcoma Cancer by following this link: sarcoma.