Tuesday, October 27, 2009

That's Life

I was watching a movie on PBS tonight titled, "Fighting for Life" which tells the story of soldiers and the medical personnel that treat them after their war injuries. It's about courage, survival, pain, the dedication and compassion from the medical teams - all this comes together in a moving portrayal of life and war.

It disturbed me to see the amputees. I admit I even screeched a bit when I saw some of the injuries. So many soldiers and civilians hurt. Watching the movie brought out all the anxiety and sadness I have about my leg...and what I need to decide about my own amputation. Honestly, my first reaction is to vomit, shake my head and then vomit once more in case there was any debate about my feelings on the amputation. I don't want to do it. It's not like my surgical track record is smooth. Well, okay, I'm alive which is the best case scenario but getting here wasn't easy. I don't know if I'm ready to go through all of that again. "Fighting for Life" hit me hard. Realized that if I go through with the amputation, then I'll experience what those soldiers experienced. Uh, and none of them made it look easy or painless. Some of them had similar nerve and skin damage, in fact, one soldier's arms and legs looked a lot like mine.

I'd like to think I was brave and strong like the men and women in the movie. Some of them are determined to go back and finish the fight they started. Wish I could be as single-minded. I have more fear now then I did before. Fear can make you stronger, it's true, but fear can cut you in half. My family says the decision about amputation is mine but they remind me with a prosthesis I will walk again. My response? At what cost the pain? The unknown scares the s.h.i.t. outta me. The pain is barely tolerable now, what is it going to be like after the surgery? Doctor's answer? Doesn't know. Not good enough. The amount of uncertainty I've had in the last four years demands more than that for an answer. I'd prefer some kind of guarantee - which is impossible, I know.

When my orthopedic surgeon mentioned the amputation again, I swear every orifice in my body contracted - EVERY ORIFICE. It was as if they all took a great big collective inhale, held it and then exhaled one loud, "NO WAY!!" My skin crawled and my vision dimmed. I'm not lying - I thought I was going to faint. Guess that's a pretty definitive answer as to what my mind and body think about amputation, right?

If you get the chance, watch this movie. The human spirit is amazing. I love what one medical team member said to the Iraqi soldier who'd just found out he'd never walk again. You could tell he was a career military man. He kept asking the medical person, Leslie, to help end his life. As she held him in her arms, they cried together and then she said to him, "I know it's not the life you envisioned, but it's life."


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