Monday, 6 April 2015

Monday 6th, April 2015 ... owning it

Years ago a good friend of mine taught me that no matter what life throws at you, it’s yours, own it. Her strength and wisdom are inspirational and I thank her for teaching me how to give myself permission to be exactly who I am. That’s why I don’t find it hard to tell our story, although very personal it is who we are.

I originally started sharing my blog regularly to keep our family and friends in the loop throughout Brendan’s treatment and recovery, as we don't always have the energy to communicate with loved ones; one on one, during or after treatments, so it has served a really practical purpose. You guys find out what's happening straight from us, there is no confusion and no mis-information. I hope that makes things easier for all of us, because we know everyone cares about Brens progress.

A perfect example of this working well; is how natural it felt to have members of our family and friends visit Brendan the day of and within the first week of his amputation. Brendan’s Mum, Dad and sister Elizabeth, Sue, Mike and I were all there to hug him and love him straight after his operation, and to my knowledge not one of us that visited Bren over the following critical week felt uncomfortable, just very, very relieved to see him looking so well after such a huge operation.

Thursday the first of his girls turn up.

Family & Friends

Sue, Mike and I were sitting in the comfy black couches in the ward 10 waiting area when the lift opened and my niece Kahli and her partner Clayton got out. I got up to walk toward them and by the time I reached her Kahli and I (and Sue) were in tears. They hugged her Mum and Dad, I put my arm around KJ’s waist and we walked down to Uncle Bren’s Room.

We went in, they said a quick hello and Kahli threw her arms around her uncles neck as they cried and said “ love you”.  Brendan was still quite affected by medication and the anaesthetic from his operation, so it wasn't a long visit, but it was exactly what he needed. Clayton an KJ walked back out to the waiting room, and Bren cried again saying “these are happy tears, can you please go and give her another big hug for me and make sure she knows just how much it means to me that she came".

This scene would be repeated almost to a T, two more times on Saturday, first when our nieces Jordon and Tori turned up with their partners Mick and Brad; who had all made the 4/5 hour trip to Sydney and then back home again in the same day, and then again when our niece Teagan turned up; although Teagz would stay the night with Sue and I as Mike had to go back home Thursday night.

Our brother in-law Andy made a surprise visit too, on Thursday afternoon, between finishing at a work event and catching a flight home. I'm pretty sure the smile on Bren's face when Andy walked in was bigger than the one I got when I walked into his room for the first time. Andy's visit was followed by our gorgeous friend Holly baring delicious home made goodies.

My cousin Tracy and her husband Dale also made a trip up from Woolongong for the afternoon and Brens boss Nigel called in for a chat on Tuesday evening, a great way to celebrate the end of  the first week post operation.

Bren enjoyed seeing everyone, he was not worried about anyone seeing him without his leg and no one was afraid to see him without it. Not one of us enjoyed seeing him lying in a hospital bed though, because all who know him well know that doing nothing disagrees with him immensely.

Beauty, Pain and the Phantom

Dr Panos put it perfectly on Good Friday, when he unwrapped the bandages for the first time to check how Brendan’s wound was healing. “It’s beautiful.” He said in his lovely strong accent. I looked at Brens stump, and then looked up at him and repeated “it’s beautiful!” and that was that, we were all in agreeance. 

The pain management team have reduced Brendan’s medication slowly from the massive doses he was taking prior to his operation, down to basic pain relief, post. He has successfully weened down to less than a quarter of the morphine, and 2 endone tablets opposed to the six to eight a day he was on prior to his operation. However he did have a terrible headache for a couple of days. He mentioned this to the gorgeous young doctor on rounds from his pain team, and said that he may be grinding his teeth in his sleep, as he has probably been under more stress than usual. The Doctor looked at him with a wry smile and she said “do you think!... If you need extra medication for a headache please ask. Because that’s quite OK”

Beside some on-going post op pain that is being controlled by the pain team, some mild withdrawal symptoms from coming off most of the "good" drugs and a visit from his old mate gomer; the other side effect from the operation and the weirdest of all has been his phantom leg. This is truly fascinating, but in Brendan's own words could send you crazy.

He can still feel his leg there, originally it felt like it was bent in the same position it was in before the amputation. Now it is more out to the side and he experiences pain in both the foot and his knee. When I take him into the shower on the rolling shower chair he often flinches as he feels like I am going to slam his phantom leg into the door jam. I have actually accidentally banged his actual left leg into the wash basin, so I guess he has good reason to be cautious, I'm not a great driver.

The pain team have told him that eventually his phantom leg will be gone, but until then as he mends it may feel like his foot is getting closer to his stump. I don't know if that is something he will be able to get used to even if it's only for a short period of time, but the funniest thing I saw this week was when Sue sat next to him so they could get a photo together and Bren yelled out "aww you're on my leg," and then cracked up, poor Suzie nearly went through the roof!

Getting Home

Medically, three to four days after the operation Brendan was fit to go home, but being that it was the Easter long weekend he had no access to Physio, so he would have to recuperate till physio could see him Tuesday before he could start practicing getting around on crutches and ready himself to head home. The boredom is now setting in good and proper.

We are missing the kids like crazy and I know Brendan is a little anxious about how they will go seeing him without his leg for the first time. I think that they will see how much better he looks and after a little while will realise how much more he will be able to do with them. For the 6 weeks leading up to his operation Bren had been mostly lounge bound. So after a good long hug and an initial period of adjustment, I think they will be just fine and we can't wait to get home and see them.

We are having our good days and some bad ones too, just like anyone else! But we are taking each day as it comes with an open heart and owning it every step of the way.


  1. I really hope that may consider publishing your blog into a novel when you finish. It's a fabulous read. So beautifully written. This book would be incredibly helpful to others going through what you have gone through. I've loved and lived your journey. Truly inspirational and uplifting. You really are a wonderful writer. Xx

  2. Hear hear!! I agree. Cal it would be a real help to people who were going through exactly this. Think about it. You write beautifully. I always end in tears but now they're good tears. Big hugs sweetie. xox

  3. Thanks Mon...PS Dolly's on facebook, can you believe it :) xx