Two steps forward, one step back.
Here we are in March. The month of ‘marching forth’ no less. And I wonder to myself whether I fully understand that this is actually happening to me? To ME.
My best answer is to say ‘sometimes I have and sometimes I have not’.
A few weeks ago when I first heard the news, I must’ve said ‘I’ve got this’ literally hundreds of times. I thought that if this was to have to happen to anyone I even remotely care about, I’m glad it’s happening to me because… yep, I’ve got this.
But then there have also been times since then, if I’ve been busy with something, or distracted by the kids, when suddenly it hits me as if it were for the very first time… 'Huh??? I’m getting half of my leg chopped off? WTF?!’
This means that my process of coming to terms with it all gets a regular ‘reset’ in my head. This can be very frustrating and means I have to start building back up my acceptance of it, all over again. Two steps forward and so on…
But, I think the key word in the sentence above might just be ‘building’, because I’m beginning to figure out that accepting something so dramatic is better done as a series of building blocks. So, rather than trying to wrap my head around the entire skyscraper that is accepting amputation, individual building blocks are what I’ve broken it down into:
First, practical blocks like ‘how do we tell the children?’, ‘how long before I can walk again?, ‘where do I need hand-rails installed in the house?’ and so on. Then some less practical, rather more crumbly blocks, like ‘how much will it hurt?’ and ‘I’m really scared’.
Either way, I’ve been trying to focus on the specific issue of an individual block, determine whether I need to chat about it with someone, research it on the internet or ask the Facebook group etc. All such that I can try to better get it reconciled in my mind in isolation, and put it to one side. I’ll then tackle another block, but only when I’m ready to do so.
I’m doing much better with this approach as it’s a lot more helpful and constructive than trying to mop every facet of this up, with another throw-away ‘I’ve got this’.
My ongoing challenge remains bringing them cohesively together to build a more complete and deep comprehension of what’s about to happen to me. And in doing so, avoid any more Jenga-like block collapses, any more re-sets and any more ‘WTF’ moments. As of now, I'd describe myself as 'nearly-but-not-quite' with my progress on this.
My bet is that what I accepted immediately happened in my conscious mind, but my denial of it has been digging its heels in, somewhere in a dark corner of my subconscious mind. But if ever there was a case of ‘Monday morning self-psychiatry’ this is most likely it.
What I know for certain however, is that all of this would be easier given more time. But, as amputation is often a result of trauma, or as in my case, serious infection, time is not something people in my situation are given the luxury of.
The very best we can do, is organize our thoughts about losing a limb as calmly and efficiently as possible, avoiding panic and chaos, and understanding that a sequence of two steps forward and one step back when strung together, does actually represent some progress.
It might not keep up with the calendars relentless march towards surgery day, but it’s surely the case that ‘any’ forward progress should be seen as ‘good’ forward progress.