Over the last week, I’ve written a lot about my firsthand experiences. I myself have ridden a real emotional rollercoaster, flying through anxiety, outright fear, relief, exhaustion (lots of that), pain, sadness, guilt, and hope. But in the end, I get a fresh, pain-free, working leg and the hope of the rest of my life that way. I’d give a lot for that.
But the questions is, what would other people give for that? Because I’m not the only person impacted by this decision.
In deference to my family’s privacy, I haven’t said a whole lot about the impact to them. But I think it’s time for me to acknowledge the toll the last two weeks has taken on my family, and the likely toll that will continue until I’ve fully recovered.
Ian and Benji have not only lived without a wife and mother for six days while I was in California with the expectation of that absence to continue for at least a few more weeks as I slowly recover, but they both have borne the same burden of emotions I have — without the same possible benefit. It’s been just as hard for them emotionally, while they’ve had to keep going through all the normal motions of life.
Ian has effectively single-parented for the last week, a week of half days at school, while also juggling a crushing load of work deadlines and church demands. He never wanted me to do this surgery now, wasn’t happy about it, and still carried through with the dogged commitment to our family that makes him the husband and father he is. The toll on Ian of this Herculean effort is clear, and he deserves more than just a paragraph on my blog. He deserves a week alone in Hawai’i or something.
The saga isn’t over yet; I’m home, but not recovered, and I can’t yet do all the things I would normally do at home. I spent a couple hours with Benji after school yesterday and crept up to bed shaking and exhausted.
Ian, Mom, and Dad are flying to L.A. for Thanksgiving, and traveling with a kid around the holidays is trying at best. I’m not going with them. So Ian carries on, visiting my family with our son, while I’d know he’d sure love another three days of quiet by himself. It’s a sacrifice the like of which I doubt I’ll ever be asked to make, and one that I need to call out.
Meanwhile, Mom spent the last week first sleepless from anxiety in the run-up to the surgery, then sleepless from waking up every time I shifted, breathed, or made any kind of move in the night. She kept herself calm and effective for me, but after my surgery took some time to do exactly what any mom would do — weep copiously.
After all that, she took care of for four more days, guiding me out of bed, tying my shoes, helping change my dressings, obtaining food, wrangling every detail that you have to navigate while living in a hotel and flying home. She arranged wheelchair transport everywhere, tipped the wheelchair pushers, got blankets for me at the airport, and advocated for me through everything.
I’m sure she’s at least as exhausted as I am, again without the same gains I get. I get a renewed leg. She just got a week of expenses and exhaustion.
I’m missing Thanksgiving with my family. How do they feel about that? Probably disappointed, at least.
Throughout this journey, my sister, grandma, in-laws, friends, and coworkers all underwent (and, to some extent, continue to undergo) a level of anxiety and added stress that I wouldn’t wish on anyone… And yet I inflicted it on everyone for my own personal gain.
My choice to have surgery seems optional. I did it to myself in the first place with all my biking; maybe it’s just a natural consequence I should have lived with. It’s not a life-threatening condition; why did I do it? Why now? What about everyone who cares about me or is impacted by my sudden unexpected vanishment? It looks selfish and thoughtless, cold, uncaring, and demanding. Maybe it is.
I could try to articulate the feeling of sudden potential hope coupled with terror at deciding to pull the trigger (or scalpel, I guess I should say), the burning need to get it done now once I made the choice, the sleepless nights of anxiety and racing thoughts… but everything just starts with “me” and “I.” This saga has reminded me with the subtlety of a bludgeon to the head that my choices have huge impacts on many other lives, and I need to consider the people I love more before I make decisions.
So to everyone who has supported me and my family so far, and who continues to do so, I offer my deepest humble thanks. I don’t deserve the rallying of support and kindness shown, and I’m more grateful because of it.
Thank you all.