The Emergency Room (Marriage Counseling)
I had been in that Emergency Room (marriage counseling) so many times before. The big question remained the same. “Can this leg be saved?” Deep in the pit of my stomach, I was frantic. Oh please, oh please, oh please, not my leg. Please don’t cut it off! What will I do? What will my children do? Please save my leg!!
I sat on the Emergency Room table for many weeks, examining the wound. And the many wounds that came in the 20 years leading up to that moment – there in the Emergency Room…again.
“How does it make you feel after all these years together?” the ER doctor asked.
Angry. Hurt. Betrayed. Frustrated. Astounded. Unloved. What a waste.
The conversations were unproductive. Is the inevitable being prolonged? The wound was bad. This time, I wasn’t sure if the leg could be saved. I was bleeding all over the Emergency Room floor. My tears were falling just as fast as the blood. Me? Losing my leg? After all I’ve done to try to take care of it! The ER doctor tried to stop the bleeding. But the wounds kept coming. So did the blood. And so did my tears.
Sure, I could have done things differently with my leg. I could have loved tougher. I could have loved more honestly. But I saw so many close by who’d been neglecting their leg. They’d done awful things. They’d said horrible things. I looked around and didn’t see them in the ER, bleeding all over the floor. They never would walk out an amputee. Their legs stayed in tact. In fact, their legs were beautiful and strong. I quietly whispered “Why me?” And I wished I wasn’t the type of person that asked, “Why me?”
Surgery (Divorce Court)
The news was grim. My leg would not be saved. Surgery date (divorce court) was set and re-scheduled and set again. In the end, I would wait one year. One year to contemplate what life would look like without my leg. It still hurt so bad. And I had so many questions. How was I going to live without a leg? I had never known life without that leg – not since I was 16. After surgery, what if I would have to leave everything I know, move home so my parents could take care of me until I could walk again?
Would I ever walk again? Would I ever run? Did I even want to?
How would my Diamonds in the rough function with their mom being an amputee? Why was their dad walking just fine? It was weird to see him in a new race. It hurt to see him run, on both legs, as if nothing was wounded. No damage. No surgery. The wind through his hair as he effortlessly glided through each lap with a smile on his face.
Surgery date arrived and they amputated my leg. It was the day that confirmed all hope was dead. As I lay there on the table, I contemplated all that I had just lost. How in the world did I end up here? I limped out with nothing to show except the two Diamonds in the rough and a big hole in my heart.
Recovery Room (post divorce)
Recovery (post divorce) was like coming out of a fog. Everything was new. Not in a fresh, spring-time exciting sort of way. But in a new pair of shoes and now I have a big blister sort of way. I felt so un-focused and all thumbs. My thoughts were awkward. My interactions were awkward. I was more than uncomfortable. I felt blind. I was unbalanced and clumsy. But I was moving.
The Crutch (God)
I had always had this Crutch (God). I thought I had leaned hard on it when I was in the Emergency Room. But this Crutch was now industrial strength. It became less of a habit and more desperation. And I leaned on it even heavier each day – every second. I talked to The Crutch – a lot. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was saying. It seemed I just blah blah blahed my way through the conversations. Sometimes I was blubbering; sometimes I was complaining. But rarely was I saying “Thank you, dear Crutch. You are the most amazing Crutch. What would I do without you?” But The Crutch didn’t seem to mind. It was still there every day, waiting for me when I got out of bed. I grabbed it first thing. I wasn’t even sure if The Crutch was helping. But, I just didn’t know what else to do. It still hurt…where there used to be a leg. But the acute pain was gone. It was now just a dull ache.
Being the only one to buff and polish the Diamonds in the rough every day, kept me moving – grabbing The Crutch each morning. I really believed in those two Diamonds. And that belief provided a great deal of blind endurance. But, oh they were a ton of work. The buffing and polishing was a great distraction while my amputated leg healed. The work helped keep me on course. I was wobbly, but I was on course.
Physical Therapy (embracing single life)
Physical Therapy (learning to embrace single life) was brutal. I dutifully showed up and worked my muscles. Dr. Therapy helped me dig deep trying to understand myself and my wounds that had caused the amputation. I started to learn to walk again. It was really hard sometimes. Some days I didn’t want to walk at all. But most days I did. I kept thinking about the two Diamonds. I wanted to get well. I was getting stronger and the surgery was becoming more distant in my rear view mirror.
My wound was closed. It was now a horribly bad scar, but it was healing. For the first time, I started to notice something different. There was another scar there, left where my leg used to be. Why hadn’t I seen this before? It was the scar left from the stitches. There were a lot of them. The sheer number of stitches reminded me of what I had lost. But still, the amazing patchwork the stitches left on my wound. It was…well, it was really beautiful in a weird sort of way.
Physical Therapy eventually became less frequent. And I learned to walk better. A few years passed from the amputation. I finally started to feel better. I started to become stronger. More like myself. Like myself from a really long time ago self. I wondered if I might even try to jog. No, maybe not. I just lost a leg after all. Well, maybe yes. Oh boy. If I run again, I may get hurt again. What about the Diamonds? What if I end up back in surgery? What if I lose another leg?
Running Again (dating)
Oh, hello. I saw one of my friends who’d been running alone for a while. He’d had his leg amputated too – after 25 years of running with it. We talked and discussed our wounds. And our healing. He was much stronger than I. He inspired me. He walked steady and strong. And loved his new life. But it was obvious that he had put in the work. He’d paid the price and done his time in Physical Therapy. He walked with a limp, but the limp was starting to fade. He had the same Crutch. Hmm…just like me. I wanted to run like him. So I started to walk with him (dating).
We walked together for several years. Then we started to run together. We considered doing The Big Race. It was a marathon. Are we strong enough? What about the Diamonds? No, maybe a few more years of training. So we kept running together. We paid close attention to our individual training. But we tried to get our gates into rhythm.
The Big Race (remarriage)
We asked a lot of questions to The Crutch and about The Crutch. What if we entered The Big Race (remarriage)? Would we still lean hard on The Crutch…like we did before? We really didn’t want to run without The Crutch. Even if we entered The Big Race…especially if we entered The Big Race. My amputation had made me more fearful, and more careful. But there I was at the starting line. Full of courage and hope.
And The Big Race began.
Today (a new life)
Sometimes I think about the Surgery, Recovery Time and Physical Therapy.
But you know what I think about more than anything?
The marks of The Great Doctor. The best surgeon around. The amputation scar is less visible now. In fact, when I look down, I don’t see the missing leg. I don’t see the scar.
I see the stitches. Each one the work of a loving, steady hand. The Great Doctor who wanted so badly for me to be more and more like me. Those stitches seemed to have healed more than an amputated leg.
I never thought I’d run again. To be honest, I didn’t want to run again.
But look at me! I’m in The Big Race. Who’d have thunk?
I’m strong and steady. My head is up. My stride is rhythmic.
There’s a wide smile on my freckled face and sometimes I feel like I’m 7 years old.
I’m strong enough to shout encouraging words to other amputees along the way.
My partner and I are running together. He has an excellent, strong pace and still inspires me. We both still use The Crutch every day. We’re more grateful for it. And now we share a name.
My scars didn’t make me stronger. The stitches did.
I’m not coping anymore. I’m living.
And I really love this race.
Oh…and the diamonds? They’re starting to shine.