Saturday, January 3, 2009

In the beginning... (the final decision)

So easy choice, right? Wrong. I agonized over this one. I came to the realization that I'd never made an ACTUAL decision in my entire life.

In the past, I've never really made a decision that couldn't be reversed. In my entire life, I had always had a backup plan, a way out, a bargaining chip if everything went sour and the shameless courage to say "hey, I was so wrong, let's do that other thing..."

This was a one way street. No going back. No second chances. Either I made a go of having a disfigured foot to nurse back to semi-health or I made a go of having my leg cut off to live with a prosthetic.

Part of me was holding out hope that if I just kept it, it wouldn't look "that bad" and wouldn't probably function "that bad" and hey, isn't stem-cell research taking off right now? Maybe one day they'll be able to grow me new tendons and muscles and won't I feel stupid for not having kept it then? I think they call this path "fear of the unknown" or maybe just denial.

Worse yet, I felt as though I was letting everyone down by even considering taking the amputation. My friends and family were all "pulling for me" and I thought they'd feel like I'd failed them if I had it removed. I secretly hoped someone would come in one day and say "sorry Mr. MacKenzie but we've found a family of rats living in your ankle joint... Looks pretty bad, there's rat droppings everywhere... you no longer have a choice, we have to cut it off". But no, a family of rats never came. Stupid rats. I hate rats.

The decision became clear one day after talking to a very good friend. He said "your friends and family don't want you to 'keep your leg'. Your friends and family only want what's BEST for you. If having your leg removed is the 'best' thing for you, your friends and family will be glad to see it go!"

This put everything in perspective. I called each family member, one at a time and talked to each of them knowing that we were just looking for the 'best option' not the 'emotionally safe option'.

My Uncle had asked my Dad what he would do on my behalf if he had to make the choice for me. He said that he would have to take the option that left me the most possibilities for mobility and the least for chronic pain.

One by one, I was shocked to learn that everyone in my family had known all along what they thought I should do but they didn't want to sway my decision (good choice by the way, I had to get there on my own just as you did. I was just a bit slow). This wasn't a cop-out, in fact, this was the road less travelled.

So here I am today. I'm not sure what my future holds at this point as I don't yet have a replacement for old Lefty, but I am optimistic. I feel lucky that I was given the time to come to terms with losing Lefty and I'm glad to have the support of such great individuals along the way.

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