Two months ago, I was wheeled into an operating room after kissing my mom and best friend good-bye. I had signed a consent for what felt like everything short of amputation, and a separate consent for all types of reconstructive options. The truth is I didn’t know what they were going to do, my surgeons didn’t exactly know what they would do until they saw how big the tumor was. We had agreed that if possible without significant long term risk, they would spare my posterior tibial nerve, but it looked like the tumor was surrounding it. Therefore, I knew there was a real risk.
Thirteen hours later I woke up and looked at my parents and said “what happened to me?” They wouldn’t tell me. I cried. I knew the surgery had been bigger than planned, and I knew I was in horrible pain, but I didn’t know what they had done to me. All night long the nurse wouldn’t give me details. I slept no more than a few minutes at a time due to the pain, and them dopplering my ankle to make sure there was still blood supply to the graft. As morning dawned, I asked everyone what happened to me. Finally, my surgeon explained to me that the tumor was bigger than expected, that she had to remove all the soft tissue in my ankle including the nerve, veins and the artery. However, they had done a nerve graft in hopes that the nerve might grow back. In hopes that someday I’d feel my foot again.
Processing that news was hard. My drug addled mind couldn’t compute it. I got through each of the next days with the help of my family and my friends near and far. Now two months later, I’m still having trouble processing that I can’t feel my foot and that that may be my new norm.
Still I make strides everyday. I’ve been swimming again for a week. I work out as I can preparing the rest of my body to help Lefty out. I’ve taken several steps without my crutches, but I hate the feeling. Today, I walked my dog around the block alone for the first time in 2 months. We both loved it. These strides forward should be written on a calendar.
In 2 short months I’ve learned a lot about living with a numb foot even while I test for nerve growth once a week. When I look back on the last two months I know that what I will remember is not the pain, not the hard times, but the support and love of my friends and family. Looking back is always colored by how you choose to look at the past. Recently I’ve had a reminder of how precious life is, and the fact that I have a numb foot suddenly seems like just one more thing to get through. Time does give us perspective. Time does heal wounds. Time will even make me think its OK to walk on a numb foot.