The Cookie Monster will make sense at the end of this post. Word-smithing magic.
On Friday, June 14th, 2013, I will walk into Georgetown University Hospital with two legs and leave it a few days later with one.
That's in only 38 days. I've got a growing to-do list before the gauntlet comes down.
Next week I've scheduled appointments with a pain management specialist, Dr. Netsere Tesfeyohannes, and my family physician, Dr. Didace Kabatsi, for a physical. I know, it's an alphabet soup of doctor names.
I still have not locked up a prosthetist. I spoke with Dr. Attinger's nurse, Kathryn, today on the phone to go over some questions I had. While we were talking she reminded me that finding the right legman is important. It's like a marriage. Dr. Jeng said the same thing in March.
No pressure. It's just the single most important decision I will ever make (behind marrying my wife, of course, and whether or not I should wear those jeans again).
"We use nine dimensions of compatibility to find your dream prosthetist!"
Finding "the right" prosthetist is a challenge. I have no idea what the red flags are to signal a "bad" prosthetist marriage. What I need is a dating website for amputees and prosthetists. I posted a message on the Amputee Coalition of America's Facebook page to ask other amputees if they had recommendations for how to meet Mr. Right. Because I have no idea what I'm doing.
Based on the responses I'm getting, I've noticed amputees will drive long distances to see a good prosthetist. Several people, including Kathryn, recommended Elliot Weintrob at Orthotic Prosthetic Center in Fairfax, VA. I'll schedule something with him tomorrow. Amputees apparently fly in from around the world to see him.
But back to the surgery.
When I show up to the hospital in June, Kathryn confirmed I'll get my pre-game epidural. Then, on Tuesday, we'll lop off the leg. Once my pain is managed with oral medication, I'll be discharged and possibly admitted as an inpatient to the National Rehabilitation Hospital nearby where I will continue to learn I no longer have a right leg. This will help reduce the likelihood of accidents when I return home.
Whether or not I'm admitted depends on how well I rehab. And my genetic clumsiness. I mean, we're here because I snowboarded into a tree. When the Vegas odds-makers draw up the accident lines for me, there's no way they'll favor a clean record.
Okay, so this was a terrible picture to use.
One of the biggest items on my to-do list has been the oh-so-simple task of a total lifestyle change. My wife and I started working on this in December when I finally decided I had had enough with this ankle. In December I was a svelte 225 lbs. For a guy that's 6'3", my body fat percentage was creeping past 27%. That's several miles safely within the borders of obese territory.
My diet was awful for someone that had such a hard time working out. I devoured all of the carbohydrates and processed food I could get my hands on. The diet worked for me, so I thought, because I didn't have to spend too much time up on my ankle cooking. Just throw in a box of frozen burritos into the microwave and enjoy life!
But all the weight I gained had the opposite effect. My back pain, already bad because I can't push off with my right leg, got worse. I stopped biking and lifting. I began to worry I was stuck in a vicious cycle.
I lost hope of ever snowboarding again. Instead, I was apparently training as Cookie Monster's backup, ready to come up off the bench at a moment's notice to eat frozen burritos (word-smithing achievement unlocked).
My wife and I drastically changed our diet in December. And it's a permanent change. Our new diet has a name, too. Paleo. I cook regularly and dominate at it. And it's amazing how much better it tastes than that bean burrito in a box. Many of our meals are vegetarian. Since starting the diet, I've dropped 21 lbs. My goal is to be around 195 lbs for the amputation. This will make sure the prosthetic fits comfortably on my residual limb.
I also started working out again last month to ensure my core, legs, and upper body are all ready for the amputation. I've been telling people that I will be in the best shape of my life after an amputation -- not before.
Getting an amputation has been the easiest decision I've ever made. It's made the importance of diet and exercise more immediate and real. But I'm not dumb. I suspect this will be a hard decision to live with. It's going to be really painful. I know that.
But it will be worth it.