Five weeks ago, my father decided to amputate his right foot. There was no unhealing wound, bone infection or gangrenous sore, there was no one telling him it is either your foot or your life. It was the bravest, most amazing decision, made by the bravest and most amazing man I know. For those of you who thought this post was going to be about my baby, I apologize, but they are learning to walk together.
When my father was a young man, he had multiple injuries to his right foot and ankle, broken many times, twisted, turned, and swollen. I constantly remember my dad with an ace bandage or ice on his ankle. There were many times he should have gone to the hospital, but in the busy life of work, sales, travel, and two little girls, the luxury of time to heal is few and far between, so he would wrap it up, apply ice, and keep on keepin’ on. I know a lot of us can relate to that.
Over time, his skeletal structure just couldn’t take any more, and due to arthritis, multiple injuries, whatever you want to call it, his bones just started to crumble. He went to surgeons up and down the east coast seeking opinions. He would ask, “can anyone, or anything fix my foot?” The answer was always no, there was not enough solid bone to attach pins to even try to put back together. The advise was always walk until you can’t walk anymore.
What my dad was good at keeping from us (most of the time) was the amount of pain he was in. For the past 20-30 years, his foot was in constant pain, the last five being pretty serious chronic pain. For the last year, my father could not walk. He used a cane sometimes, but spent most of his time wheeling around on a knee walker, but walking on a severely broken foot was not an option. It was sad, he wanted to fly a kite with my kids, but getting onto the beach was out of the question.
So, it came to a point where he, along with my mother decided that the quality of life was going down hill fast, that at 65 he had lots and lots of living left to do, he chose to go the route of the bionic man.
On June 14th my father had his foot amputated, on July 26th, he took his first steps. I was with him, as were my children and my mom. They put the bionic foot, made out of steel and fiberglass on my dad and told him to stand up, it was the first time I had seen my dad stand up straight in over 2 years. His eyes welled up, my eyes welled up, my mom’s eyes welled up, the orthotics guy, Jeremy, his eyes welled up.
The only think my dad could say was, “I don’t have any pain”…it was euphoric, and with that, he began walking, like a duck to water.
At one point he was standing at the end of the walking bars and he was pulling the toe part of his bionic foot up off the floor. We all asked him what he was doing and he told us he was practicing, amputees drive all the time, and that man is itching to get back behind the wheel of his corvette. So for now, for two of the most important people in my life it is just baby steps, one foot in front of the other, and soon they will be racing around the block and flying kites on the beach.