Friday, August 17, 2007

Where have I been?

The last couple of posts have shared a little about my last two weeks.  I will try to share a little more here, and then try to return to my "usual jovial self" next week.


As many of my regular followers (all three of ya ...hahaha) know, I am an amputee, with the lower half of my right leg missing.  I went through 2.5 painful years between the initial accident (June 2001) and the final surgical procedure of amputation (Dec 2003).  One of the good things to happen during this time was recognizing a possible reason for me to go through all this:  help others when it happens to them!  That has been a major piece of the previous two weeks.


Time travel back about 8 weeks:  I am the webmaster of  As such, I receive emails on a weekly, if not daily basis, from amputees, potential amputees and/or the family of both groups.  I normally reply with the info I can, forward the message to one of my surgeon contacts and work as the middle-man during initial communications.  I got an email from MJ (name withheld for privacy reasons) about his accident, how he is looking into the possibility of needing to have his leg amputated and was wanting to contact a particular surgeon.  I got an additional message about MJ from a prosthetist friend of his as well.  Something about MJ's situation made my ears perk up much more than they normally do (divine intervention). 


Unknown to me at the time was the fact that surgeon was getting ready to go off the grid for several weeks on a much-needed family vacation.  Long story short: I got MJ in contact with my surgeon in OKC and we got everything scheduled for his amputation in a very timely (and surprising) manner.


In the weeks since our first contact, MJ and I had numerous conversations on the phone to discuss issues such as the pros and cons of amputation, mentally preparing for the procedure, possible levels of pain during recovery, changes to daily activities and items to get for the house to assist in daily activities, etc.  Renee even offered to talk with MJ's wife to share the "spouse's side" for the change.  That offer was accepted, with an almost 2 hour conversation as a result (those two can talk non-stop).


Without getting into all the travel-troubles they had, MJ and his wife 'flew into' OKC on Monday, 06 Aug.  Renee and I already had plans to be in the area of OKC since Sarah was flying out the next day to see a friend, so we stopped by and introduced ourselves in person (finally) at their hotel.  While there was tension in the air due to a pending surgery in the morning, the visit was one that I will always remember.  MJ and his wife are absolutely GREAT people.  After talking about his visit with my surgeon earlier in the day, and showing off my prosthetic leg and how it works, he called his mom to come down to the room, as his parents had travel to OKC to be with him during this time.  I can see how MJ turned out to be such a great guy, as he had great examples in both his mom and dad!


Tuesday rolled around and MJ's first operation was done (for various medical reasons, the amputation was staged between two surgeries).  Renee and I stayed with the family all day and made sure MJ was squared away in his room before we left. I knew he would be without his foot when I walked into his room, but now I know a little of how Renee must have felt when she first saw me in that condition. We returned on Wednesday, and then was there all day long on Thursday, when the 'big surgery' happened.  All that time, I was the one being asked tons of questions about pain, procedures, expectations, etc.


MJ and his wife left for their home on the west coast Wednesday evening (this week).  Renee and I were with them to help get packed, etc.  When they drove off, it was a very sad moment, as we have been drawn together through a very tough, but compassionate, situation.  I have mentored/counseled dozens of amputees over the years, but haven't been with one completely through the process (in person).  It brought back a lot of feelings, many of which I really need to deal with as I continue to make myself available to other amputees.


I mentioned how great both MJ and his wife are, and I want to show just a little of that.  When they were sending their email updates to their family and friends, they included the following (shared to show their graciousness, not blowing my own horn):


...and a tremendous couple from Oklahoma, Ron and Renee King, who have been helping MJ with this entire process over the last couple of months.  Ron is also an amputee, and he has been guiding and mentoring MJ via phone calls and email.  Ron and Renee spent time with us on Monday night at our hotel to help us out, and they also came to the hospital this morning and stayed with us through MJ's entire recovery, making sure we had everything we needed and that MJ was receiving the best care possible.  They have been amazing.  They have provided as much support and comfort to me as they have to MJ, and I just can't thank them enough.


Ron and Renee King, our wonderful friends out here, got to the hospital at 9am and didn't leave our side until MJ was settled back in his room at 6pm.  They kept MJ's mother and I occupied with wonderful conversation and company all day.  Renee loves to talk as much as I do, and she is so gentle, compassionate, and I have developed a very special love for her (and Ron of course!).


Renee and I both agreed about one thing: While our amputation ordeal was difficult, being there with MJ and his wife was just as difficult, but for different reasons.  It probably boils down to the fact it is hard to accept that others have to deal with this type of situation.  But that isn't going to slow me (or Renee) down in being there to provide support for others as needed!

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