Dealing with Cancer in the Family

Not for his Chicken Legs

I didn’t know how I would react when I first saw him.

I knew, rightly or wrongly, that my reaction weighed heavily on him.

My initial response would reflect his.

As I’d left him, I had been overwhelmed with the realisation of what was about to happen knowing how much he didn’t want it to.

My heart beat fast in anticipation as I was led round a rabbit warren of recovery wards, prep areas, past theatres and into where he was in HDU.

I needn’t have worried.

He smiled, I couldn’t help but smile back, I knew right then everything was going to be ok.

I relaxed, relieved that he was awake and I was back with him, to sit as he drifted in and out of sleep.

Later that day the nurse asked if we wanted a moment to have a look at the bandages, I felt a slow rise of panic.

Worried not for myself, but for how Chris would be seeing his body forever changed. Legless.

A pillow and sheets had strategically covered what was no longer there.

Like removing a plaster, we didn’t hesitate, wanting to get on with things, get it over and done with, pulling back the sheets with no real thinking about what we would find underneath.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel an element of shock, the feeling subsided as quickly as it arose.

There was no horror, no disgust. A mental shrug of the shoulders and an ‘oh well.’

It was done, the tumours that had taken up residence in his leg, growing, invading, infesting, trying their best to kill, were gone.

Chris, still in a fuzzy haze of morphine, pain and post surgery anaesthetic used the word horrific.

‘It’s horrific’

I didn’t feel that. I didn’t think it was horrific.

Weird maybe, for want of a better word, weird because that morning there were 2 legs and now there was only one but not horrific.

Weird because for the best part of 15 years my partner was fully able and now he would be less able. Not horrific.

Weird because I’d never seen anyone who had just had their leg amputated, in fact I don’t know any other amputees in real life. This was the man who I love. Definitely not horrific.

His reaction to the sight of space, where his left leg used to be, expected.

He had feared that day, the amputation for so long.

I text friends a photo of him, (with his permission of course) they were planning visits in the coming days, desperate to know how he was. I didn’t want their first reaction on seeing him to be that of shock, no matter how minor it may show on their faces.

I wanted them to be able to walk in and just see Chris. To help him know that it was alright, that everything was going to be ok.

As the days went on in hospital Chris got stronger and began to learn to do things for himself it became almost easy to forget that he now only had one leg.

The kids were brilliant, Lily adapting easily and Sam, well Sam hasn’t even noticed.

It was no longer horrific.

It was now part of the physical him.

Everything else was still the same.

He was more positive than I ever expected, more determined.

He joked, we talked and we laughed.

He was still him, my husband; the man who drives me mad in frustration but has makes me laugh (almost) every day, that hadn’t changed.

That would never change.

It didn’t take long at all to visually get used to the leg, the stump.

For it to almost be his normal.

To me it didn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.

After all, I didn’t marry him for his chicken legs.

One thought on “Not for his Chicken Legs

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