In three operations over six months, orthopedic surgeons reconstructed my ankle with staples, stitches, screws, metal plates, a skin transplant, a bone transplant, and external fixators. Each surgery was painful. Each recovery was exhausting. Each setback -- and man, were there some setbacks -- took a toll. I've had more holes drilled in my leg than a Victorian home renovation project on This Old House.
But, hey, at least the orthopods saved my leg.
It's the protocol. Save the leg and buy options. Amputate and lose them.
Ankle distraction arthroplasty was the most recent option we've endured. It came with two more surgeries, a third external fixator, and more pain. The risk was low. It didn't eliminate any other option in the ankle arthritis treatment protocol. The reward was potentially high. Pain relief.
Unfortunately, in the twelve months following the procedure, the pain increased and reached new heights. More setbacks.
I lost my leg the moment I snowboarded into that tree three years ago. When I tell people about my choice to amputate my right leg six inches below the knee, I'm greeted with concern, doubt, fear. Remorse. Why are you doing it? Have you run out of options?
I'm making a choice between 1) keeping my leg at the expense of a lifetime of more surgeries or 2) regaining my quality of life at the expense of losing a leg. I don't get to pick both. This New York Times article from last year does a good job explaining my rationale.
It's an easy decision on paper, but it was still emotionally challenging to ask Dr. Jeng, "can we amputate this leg?" It was a surreal moment when I heard those words leave my mouth in a hospital in front of a surgeon that can actually do what I'm asking.
I'm excited about what I'll gain with an amputation. I want to go on walks with my wife, run around with junior, reign over the basketball court, and strap back into my snowboard.
I face some hurdles between now and Cutting Day. I'm sure I'll have to justify my decision to friends, family, medical professionals, and even myself, for the rest of my life. We'll all have doubts. But I'm done with living in fear of pain and doubt. We're getting my life back, and I can't wait!
When I asked Dr. Jeng for the amputation, he asked Brooke if she was on board with my decision. She told him she was in favor of an amputation. Dr. Jeng was shocked. He told us he'd never seen a spouse so supportive of an elective amputation.
This is why Brooke dominates. I love that woman. I wouldn't be able to endure any of this without her -- especially the constipation.