On the 13th of November my mum had her left leg amputated.
Prior to that 2020 had already thrown us so many curveballs that I almost wasn’t surprised. I should also mention that it was Friday the 13th when she had her leg amputated. It also saved her life. It gave her life. ( When I rang my mum to ask if it was okay if I talked about this she wanted me to tell you it was also in Operating Room number 13. Thus, the number 13 is now her lucky number.)
Mum had been battling sarcoma that started in her ankle and spread up her leg. After some surgeries and a full body MRI and CAT scan it was decided that the only real option was to have an AKA – above the knee amputation. The news was both shocking but liberating to hear.
As soon as we had the news the surgery was organised. We got the confirmation on Thursday 5th of November. (Guy Fawkes Night.) The surgery was booked for Friday the 13th. To say I’m grateful for living in New Zealand with universal health care isn’t really enough. I know that we pay a small amount extra in taxes which goes to ensuring that others, like mum and many people I know, are able to have these surgeries and treatments for free. (Or a small fee for a prescription – $5 per script.)
During the time that mum was having the surgery I was performing in the school band at the Trident High School Senior Prize Giving. (I was flying up the following morning to hang out with my dad and visit mum.) My phone was in my pocket and I was checking it surreptitiously. When I received the following message – well I had to laugh. (Please excuse the lack of punctuation. My mother isn’t the biggest fan of it.)
I can’t believe that she sent this text to me. “Back on the ward one foot shorter.” This was a level of humour that we hadn’t seen from mum for a couple of years.
Then, when I saw her the following morning she had the audacity to look this cute.
I took this photo less that 24 hours after her surgery. Look at that cheeky grin. And, while I was up in Auckland I was able to treat dad to some Duck Island Ice Cream and a range of different food options. While mum was resting dad and I walked around Central Auckland and explored places between visits.
She’s home now. She was flown in the air ambulance back to our home town where she was in hospital for barely a week. She has already organised and been at one Craft Market and there is another one coming up this Saturday. She has an appointment with the Limb Centre early next year to look at being fitted with a prosthetic limb and we’re positive that it will be an option.
Her positivity has been a beacon in this time. I’ve heard from so many people that she is a model patient and so positive. When something like this could have brought her down it’s highlighted how strong she actually is. Both her and dad have become more alive. And the terrible jokes she has been telling… that sense of humour has been a delight to see.
And, I know, that this is just the beginning of her journey. There will be bad days because, as my wise Aunt told me, you have bad days before a surgery like this. Everyone has bad days. But there are good days there too.
Throughout all of this, though, it has been the positivity from my mum – who is way stronger than I imagine myself ever being- that has been a joy. Dad and I will share glances when mum makes an outrageous joke. Though we’ve been making terrible one legged puns as much as possible. Friends and family alike have commented on her positivity and strength. (Though, I’m not going to lie, I am tired of answering the same questions over and over again – but I’ll still answer them with a wry smile on my face.)
Basically, this post is about how freaking strong my mum is. (My dad is a different level of strength. And I share his love of music and terrible puns.)
I will leave you with one final photo and a small note. Mum’s new favourite animal is now a flamingo – as it stands on one leg. She signs off every message with the flamingo emoji and that’s just the cutest thing ever in my mind.
Thanks to the staff at both the hospitals mum was at. Especially the nurses and orderlies and cleaning staff. You are all so important.
Until next time.