The Lull

In general, life post-amputation is great. Learning to deal with it is certainly an adjustment, and there are new challenges every day. For the most part, the only rough patches are those without my leg. But, there’s another downside, and it’s kind of insidious.

Amputation recovery can be shockingly fast. I was walking on a new leg within two months, running at a little more than five months, and snowboarding at just over six. With physical therapy, progress comes quick—until it doesn’t.

I’m now a little more than eight months out, and recovery has turned into a slog. For the last four years, hope has been a constant companion. Hope and pain. As long as there’s hope, it’s pretty easy to ignore the pain. But one setback here, and another setback there, and it takes a little more work to nourish the hope.

In general, they say to expect the recovery to last eighteen months. So, by that standard, I’m not even halfway through. But slowing progress and improvement make it feel like an eternity. It’s to be expected, I suppose. Diminishing returns has to kick in at some point.

I push a little harder. It hurts a bit more. I let it recover. Rinse. Repeat. Thankfully, now I’m able to spend time with the family just playing in the yard. Running (if you can call it that), learning “adaptive trampoline jumping,” and pushing the girls on the swing is the new normal. But anything drastically beyond that is more difficult at the moment. Sure, I can do more, but it costs me.

It may only cost an hour or two, but it could cost days. So fear holds me back a bit more than I’d like. Then there’s the logistics of switching feet or even waterproofing feet. (Did you know that on a $10,000 leg they don’t use stainless steel screws and bolts by default?) That means more trips to the prosthetist and less time with the family.

Still no regrets, though. There’s a point in every journey where the going gets tough. That’s to be expected. That’s where we are, and that’s ok. The worst of it is behind me, and now it’s just about a little patience and a lot of remaining work.