Jan Obsesses, But Not About the Amputation. What Could It Be?

Before I begin this week’s blog entry, I’d like to thank you for your well wishes, words of hope, and stories of your own experiences. I don’t have the words to tell you how much I appreciate it. Thanks to you, I think I’m going to make it.


Also, I’m touched that you’ve let me know I’ve helped some of you make it through dealing with Type 2 diabetes, and/or reminded you of the need to keep an eye on yourself. I’m glad I’ve been of some help: It was one of my goals when I agreed to write this blog. As for candor, I don’t know how else to be. At my age (I’m in mentalpause), I have to tell it like it is: I’d never remember what I said otherwise!

Now back to my regularly scheduled blog:

I took an antianxiety pill before I went to see the surgeon last Friday. I went in with some hope that something could be done that would let me keep all of my left leg and foot. It wasn’t to be. After looking at images he’d ordered, he told me amputation would be the best thing: I’m scheduled for surgery at 9 AM next Tuesday.

Doing it now will be below-the-knee. Later might be an above-the-knee amputation. From what I’ve researched, below-the-knee is best in terms of the ability to walk. Walking is good. Doing nothing is not an option: I haven’t finished whipping my grandchildren into shape yet and need to be around long enough to do that.

Hoo boy, there’s a lot to do before I can check into a hospital!

Oddly, it’s not the surgery or wearing a prosthetic that’s bothering me the most: What’s bothering me is how the dickens am I going to go to the bathroom with only one leg? I’m in my 60s, I’m extremely…let’s just say “well fed,” and I have osteoarthritis (OA) in my knees. As explained to me, OA is described in levels, with 1 being the “best” and 4 being the “worst.” I’m at level 4.

In preparation for doing some hopping around, I had injections of lubricant in both knees. They feel a little bit better, so that’s good. Well, they did feel a little bit better. The mattress pad on the bed kind of slid over the side of the bed I sleep on and, when I turned over, I slid off the bed. Landed on my hands and knees, with my left knee taking the worst hit. (Told you I was a klutz!)

I had to text my grandson (in his bedroom) in the middle of the night and ask him to bring me my scooter so I could go potty. It’s a good thing I took my cell phone to bed with me: Teenagers don’t listen to you any more, but they do respond to text messages.

In the “getting things ready” department, after rearranging the bedroom furniture, I did the next important thing: I bought an e-reader. The surgeon tells me that, between surgery and a temporary prosthesis, I’ll be confined to a bed and chair except to go to the bathroom (if I ever figure out how). That leaves a lot of time for reading. My hands tend to numb after holding a book for a while when I’m in bed, which is where I’ll pretty much have to be. I can ride my scooter into the bathroom near the bedroom: There’s no way I’ll be able to get anywhere near the necessary objects in the half bath near the recliner I’ve pretty much been living in for the last 1 1/2 years.

I’ve been practicing riding my scooter around the house to do things. I even figured out how to get things in and out of the refrigerator while on my scooter! (It’s a small kitchen. I had to figure out how to park the scooter where I could stay on it and still open the refrigerator door.)

Sometimes I take the scooter into the bedroom overnight and ride it into the bathroom. I can do that just fine. Maybe after we get handrails in the bathroom, I’ll be able to figure out how to get onto the potty. Hanging onto a windowsill and a toilet paper dispenser doesn’t seem to be doing it.

Which reminds me that we need to get some bars installed in the bathroom. The kind you hold onto, not the kind you drink at. Although the latter is sounding good, even to somebody who probably has an average of one alcoholic drink a month, if that.

Yes, I have been trying to do things one-legged. Frankly, I suck at it. (It’ll get better after I’ve gotten some instructions and practice at the hospital. I hope. Actually, it HAS to!)

Next up is getting my continuous glucose monitor to behave. Or it could be my latest box of sensors. Who knows? The sensors are only lasting hours instead of days, and not that many hours at that. I have impressed upon them my need for keeping a close eye on my blood glucose levels. Just as soon as that infection is separated from the rest of my body, my glucose is going to do the equivalent of diving off the top of the Empire State Building. And I’m hypo-unaware. Marvelous, huh?

Raise my glucose? Yeah, but you don’t heal as fast that way, so I’m not interested. I want to get back on my feet — not foot, mind you, but feet — as soon as I can. Even is one is manufactured instead of original equipment.

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  • Wendy McCleave

    Hello, Jan,

    I really enjoyed your blog and love your attitude!

    I manage the Websites for the Douglas Bader Foundation and the Limb Loss Information Centre. We attempt to supply inspirational and informative news stories mostly related to amputation.

    I wonder if you’d let me either put your blog up on the Website or put a link through to it. It’s so helpful for amputees and other disabled to hear at first hand how people cope with similar situations, especially when they are (or seem) able to face them with such courage and positivity.

    I’d be very grateful if you could contact me on the above email address to let me know what you think.

    In the meantime, best wishes for future health and happiness. I hope you’ll be around to knock your great-grandchildren into shape!


  • Cathy

    This may also be helpful for getting things off counters and out of cabinets and the fridge – one of those grabbers with a long handle like they advertise on TV. I am extremely short and I have one in my bedroom and also the kitchen – they are great for putting things in cabinets I can’t reach and don’t trust my balance for short ladders since I am also in mentalpause at 60. They cost about $7 or $8 bucks and all the catalogs and online places seem to carry them; they are lightweight but sturdy. They will lift a can of anything or a small jar of mayo or pickles out of the fridge. Gives you a little bit more independence – they could even be used in the bathroom if you have a shower caddy that is high or the top shelf of the cabinet there also. Hope this helps a little and you will be in my prayers. Thanks so much for helping me cope over the years. I look forward to Wednesdays just to read your blog.

  • Fran

    Hello jan

    Your attitude is a good part of this challenge.

    You talk about the hospital, but has anyone mentioned short term rehab for you ? I am new to this blog so I dont know if this is your first amputation. You probably wont get too much occupational therapy or physical therapy in the hospital. You may need either home care with PT and OT or a short term rehab. The only reason I “know” so much is b/c I have had a few toes amputated at different times. Don’t exhaust yourself before surgery trying to do every thing yourself. Rely on your family and fre=iends. They sound lovely.

  • Maria

    This the first blog I have ever read. I hope the surgery goes a ok and you do get rehab.

    I have not lost limbs, but I have had implants placed in both hips. With that comes many restrictions. When bending forward my hip joints are never to be in an angle less than 90 degrees. Don’t ask how many times a day I drop things. My carpet is made of paper, newspaper, socks, pillow and just about anything. The reachers do help but I don’t use them if lifting something breakable because who is going to pick it up off the floor? I use them, but I have arthritis in all joints and my right hand and forefinger do get irritated and they do hurt. I suggest buying your reacher from an online company or from your home health. I picked up one of those advertised on tv. I think it lased a month or so. My friend had the same experience.

    I also have an elevated toilet and does it help when it comes to rising off the commode. So much easier on hips and knees!! When out and about I sometimes can’t get into handicapped spaces because someone is in there. If I can’t wait, I then make another choice and it seems almost impossible to get up. In fact, there have been times I thought I was going to pull the paper box of the wall because I also have myotonic dystrophy which weakens the muscles and it takes muscles to get up. This condition does not help the diabetes also. Muscles use the glucose and since mine don’t function as they should–well you got it–high glucose from time to time.

    I have gone on much longer that I thought I would. Could be avoiding something? Could that be housework.

    Best wishes and I know all have you in their prayers.

  • Christine Richardson

    So sorry to hear that you are going to have to go through this! You are going about this right – get all the ideas for help you can – Better Living Through Gadgetry! First, grab bars in the bathroom are essential. Also there are gizmos that bolt onto your toilet that both raise the seat (more help than you can imagine) and have their own grab bars atached. A bedside commode might be an option in the short term, although nothing says Sick-room like one of those! I also kept a “lasso” of baler twine (I’m a farmer) in the bathroom and it sure came in handy a few times, if only to lasso the doorknob and pull the door shut for a little privacy. Your scooter sounds like a great idea – muss less tiring than wrestling a wheelchair.
    Another thing you might want to prepare for in advance is easy to get on-and-off clothing. If you can manange sweatsuit-type clothiing, it’s a lot more inspiring than a muu-muu.
    Another good thing to have is one of those nice bed trays – Bed, Bath & Beyond has a really nice one with book/magazine racks on the side and enough room on the top for a couple file folders if you want to work or use a laptop.
    Best of Luck to you and a speedy recovery!!!

  • Deb

    I’m so sorry it’s come to this, but it sounds like this is the right time to do it so the amputation is as low as possible. I admire how much you’re planning ahead!
    I really like the Platinum Reacher; it has a different kind of handle than the ones you see all the time. It works really well for some things. I also have a regular one that is slimmer and lighter and has a magnet on the end that helps pull cans foward on shelves. Just be careful not to pull anything too heavy down (been there, done that, got the bruises). I also take a small one with me whenever I leave the house.
    I went to rehab after an operation and don’t know how I would have managed without it. Having OT and PT at home afterwards was also lifesaving. The OT was really helpful with arranging and planning how to do things.
    I’n supposed to be sitting to do everything in the kitchen and you’ve inspired me to actually do it. It’s amazing how much less my bad leg hurts, and so my whole body hurts less. Thanks for the inspiration!
    I’ll be holding you in the light on Tuesday and sending good thoughts your way. Wishing you very good luck.

  • Sara Smarty Pants

    granny….it is the consistent high blood sugars that slow your healing, not the little bit above normal ones that you can correct easily (if your sensor is working…damn those things) Raise your target to about 150 for a while, instead of 120, or whatever 15 – 20% higher is for you….just til you start getting awareness back.

    and yes, you need a grabber thing. what a great idea!

  • Marlene Whitby

    Just wanted to let you know you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Hope all is going well for you and you’re recovering nicely.