It’s been awhile. Not everything has been good since my last post. Not everything has been bad either.
I’m a very private human but it just might be time for me to share and in some way help heal myself as well as maybe help a new amputee not make the same mistakes I’ve made the past 12 months.
I’ll start from the very beginning….in case you’ve not followed my journey from being just a diabetic to becoming a diabetic with an amputation. And a horrible attitude. I’ve always been militant, but never had a horrible attitude. Read on to see this transformation.
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, and it was strongly suggested I stop being a chef, stay off my feet as much as possible, because standing on my feet for 12 to 16 hours a day was not good for a type 2 diabetic.
So I retired. I was bored and ready for a change anyway. 26 years, a loooong time to do something you love, for people you do not love. Anyway, back to the diabetes…..
I of course ignored the diabetes, which is exactly why this blog, which used to be called “The Militant Negro” and was all political, is now renamed “Ignoring Diabetes.” But I digress, which I do a lot.
2008,…. diagnosed with diabetes, ignored diabetes until 2012. By then I’d had two toe amputations and to be honest, they really meant nothing to me. I got along just great with 8 toes. I mean who actually needs 10?? Sometimes I took insulin as directed by my doctor, most times I did not.
June 2018 I met Shantelle. By August of that year we were living together in my one bedroom apartment. I lost my wife and 9 year old son in a car crash in 2001, and I had been practicing social distancing from 2001 until 2018, when I met Shantelle. I was in a self imposed isolation from the female species because I imagined being involved in a relationship with a woman other than my “dead” wife, was un-loyal.
That didn’t prevent me from having meaningless protected sex when I needed meaningless protected sex….just having a serious meaningful connection was off limits, in my mind.
Meeting Shantelle changed all that warped thinking. I was ready for whatever the future held for me at the time we started talking, as she walked her dog, Dexter. I liked her, admired her look and found her special. This all took place between June to August of 2018.
Then came my third and final toe amputation, with Shantelle by my side. On the way to surgery, which by now for me was a walk in the park, I proposed to her asking her to be my wife. She answered YES with the most beautiful smile ever smiled at me.
I recovered. Then things went downhill from there, health wise. Fast.
I started to have severe pain in my right leg/foot. After many trips to a podiatrists and other doctors I was put into a walking boot, then a walking cast, then was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, which is: Inflammation of bone caused by infection, generally in the legs, arm, or spine.Infections can reach bones by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue.Common symptoms include pain, fever, and chills.Treatment is usually surgery to remove portions of bone that have died. This is followed by strong antibiotics, often by an IV, for at least six weeks.
This is what osteomyelitis did to me….
It took from August 14th until January 31st for me to get this infected right leg removed, amputated, cut from my body. Shantelle was there the entire time, changing my nasty, smelly, disgusting bandages daily. Being something I had missed the past 17 years, a loving caring partner. I attempted to get her to leave and move back home, she was not having any of that.
Why so long you ask, from August 14th until January 31st is 170 days. Thats a Looooooog ass time. Simple Answer: Doctor and insurance hoops I was required to jump through, infected leg and all. BUT I finally had the surgery and came home on February 4th, 2020.
The surgery and healing process was a piece of cake. Shantelle was an angel sent from above. Never leaving my side and putting up with ME, all while smiling and making me feel loved. She nursed me, changed bandages, helped me to the bedside commode, and did other things I will refrain from bothering you with visualizing.
I healed faster than normal.
Then trouble arrived in the form of my expectation for my progress being just too damn much. I wanted too many things way too soon. I was up walking with the aid of a walker days after healing and getting the staples removed. Three days after receiving my very first prosthetic leg, I chucked the walker and cane in a corner and was walking unassisted, on my own. Shantelle cried with joy.
I was NOT satisfied.
I saw people on social media doing the things I wanted to do, and I had gained weight from being bedridden, on my ass for 170 days, after losing weight. I was miserable. Not liking ME. Hard to get along with. All because I was not progressing as quickly as I wanted to progress. Doctors and my prosthetic professional told me I was moving much quicker, faster than normal.
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I wanted more. I WANTED TO DO THE THINGS I SAW ON SOCIAL MEDIA….Never being sick or in any type of disabled situation in 59 years meant I had a ton of unrealistic expectations for myself. Before being diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, my only illness was a toothache and a sciatic nerve issue that lasted exactly 4 days, then vanished as quickly as it appeared. I was NOT prepared to be this slow in doing the things I “used” to be able to accomplish.
I had unrealistic expectations and things were made worse by the fact I had little to no faith in my prosthetic company….Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics.
I saw people, like me, on social media outlets, doing the things I “thought” I should be doing. I wanted to swim, ride a bike, climb a rock wall, be able to walk like “normal.” Doctors and Hanger all told me I’d be able to do everything just like I used to do. Thats was a lie.
My very first prosthetic had a foot with no ankle, it was a block of wood.
This block of wood, which was/is where an ankle should be, meant I could not walk “Normal” and that was unacceptable to me. The K testing I took to determine what type of prosthetic I’d receive put me in this garbage, I tested at a K2. Four months later I retested from a K2 into the top category of a K4, and got this beauty….
But even that was not enough for me.I STILL was not moving at a pace I imagined I should be moving. I was never satisfied. I wanted more. Faster. Quicker. I became super frustrated. Many things frustrated me, not having a socket that allowed me to bend my knee and put my foot flat on the ground, which prevented me from standing with my legs, or walking up/down stairs one foot on a step, then the other foot on the next step. Instead I had to do both feet on the same step in order to climb or descend stairs.
I wanted to be normal, I needed to be normal. Finally on March 31st of 2020, I got a socket that allowed me to put m y foot flat on the ground.
And it only took me TEN MONTHS. Problem is by now, I had lost Shantelle.
In the ten months since I got my first prosthetic leg, I was in limbo. Stuck. Not progressing in the manner I wanted to improve. NOT being able to do the things I wanted to accomplish. Unaware that my expectations were unobtainable.
I became sullen. Moody. Grouchy. Argumentative. Mean at times. Verbally abusive. Sometimes depressed but not knowing I was depressed. Other times I was my usual nice loving self. A roller coaster ride is fine for an amusement park attraction, nothing is attractive about a roller coaster describing a relationship.
I lost the woman I was deeply and hopelessly in love with because I changed. I became someone she could not be “IN” love with any longer. I didn’t recognize who I had become….. and when I did recognize me, I hated Me. Bad thing to hate oneself.
First rule of healing from any mental/physical disability or ailment is self love. I am here, now, in this blog post, to tell anyone who goes through life altering moments….. be careful you do not make my mistake. Communicate with your partner. Talk to him/her. Express what you are feeling, how you are feeling, when you are feeling it. Calm yourself. Find inner peace however you must.
For fellow amputees: Don’t ever expect too much from yourself too quickly, as I did. Locate a fellow amputee who has been where you are right that moment and talk to them. ASK for help. Don’t be too proud, too stubborn, too macho, like I was, to seek counseling….from a fellow or Lady amputee. Find someone who can understand what you are experiencing.
My suggestion would be, another amputee.
Whatever you do, do not make the mistake I made. Never do what I did. Don’t ever be like Me.
Do NOT lose the one good thing in your life and end up alone.
If I can assist any amputee who happens upon this blog post, help or assist you get through the tough times…..you know how to reach me….