As I write this I have a compex device attached to my lower leg stimulating all of my atrophied muscles to contract. I have spent 72 days in a cast, and have 12 more to go including today.
With the cast coming off soon most people are asking if I am happy for this whole process to be ‘almost done’. Those people do mean well, they are interested and they are trying to find a way to connect with this clearly horrible thing that happened.
But man are they wrong.
When I agreed to have reconstructive surgery I committed myself to a long, hard and often lonely path. A path with many steps, some of them to be done with company, most of them to be done alone.
The first step was deciding this was a worthwhile investment of my time. This decision I made alone after having the details presented by the surgeon, who I trusted.
The second step was actually having the surgery done. This involved so many people. Surgeons, anaesthesiologists, neurologists, technicians, and then the several days in hospital with all of the nurses.
Then I went home. And started to wait. Friends came to visit frequently, I was (and still am) blessed with how many people came to help me cook, clean, tidy, or just to keep me company.
Six weeks later I was allowed to put my foot on the ground. This was a big step forward. Each progressive step towards full weight bearing, another small step in what is to be a long, long, slog.
Taking the cast off will seem huge to someone not intimately involved with the process, but to me, getting to put down the crutches and take back both hands was a bigger one.
Taking off the cast might seem liberating, but it is also scary. I will have to learn to trust my foot again. I will have to learn how to overcome the terror that through a moment of inattention I will invalidate the sacrifice of the last two and a half months. Taking off the cast is a symbolic victory, but in reality, this victory merely shines a light on the gruelling climb I have before me to claw my way back to where I was before. From hardly being able to stand, having lost multiple inches of muscle mass, lost the ability to contract those muscles, to crossing the finish line of a half-ironman..
Compared to where I will have to go, most days, it feels like I am just getting started