How do you react when someone tells you that you’re game over? Where do you find the strength to keep fighting for your dreams, when everyone keep saying that the dreams are impossible to achieve?
Do you understand the risk?
The night before the biggest intervention in my life, a doctor uttered the horrifying words:
“You’ll never walk again.”
I shuttered. What? Could what I just heard be true?
He continued, as if he were talking to someone who was already under anesthesia.
“You’re never going to run again. No more horseback riding or skiing. Maybe you’ll never be able to sit normally in a chair, and you probably won’t be able to drive.”
The man in the white lab coat stared directly into my frightened teenage eyes as he spoke. I wanted to scream out of fear and powerlessness. Why me? But before I could send my question out into the universe, he threw the absolute trump card on the table.
“It is a complicated operation you have to go through, and there is a great risk that something won’t go as expected. I have to cut far into healthy tissue and healthy bone to ensure that I get all of the cancer. It’s extensive, and there may be unforeseen complications along the way. In the worst case scenario we’ll have to amputate your leg. I must make sure that you understand the risks, Mette,” he continued.
This conversation took place a few days after my 17th birthday. What could I answer? No, I am ABSOLUTELY NOT in agreement with taking that kind of risk. In fact, I think all this must stop right now. No thanks to more chemo. No thanks to the operation. I just want to live a very ordinary life like everyone else without having to constantly test my outermost limits. And I want to be able to sit normally in a chair.
Get off the bench
While I was sick, my family was great about getting me to feel that it wasn’t only me who was sick, and that we were all shouldering the weight of the crisis together. But on the night before the surgery, I’d had enough. If the whole family really was in on the crisis, it was time for them to get off the bench and give me a break.
That call of course didn’t happen. The following morning I was taken to the operating room. Ten hours later I was lying in recovery — with one half of my leg intact and the other half made of metal. The operation was a success.
Stubbornness was not enough
Over the following months I struggled every day to learn to walk again. I was going to show them that it could be done. But stubbornness was not enough. It was as if I had to move my big toe using only the power of thought. It seemed impossible, but I kept at it. Every. Single. Day. Several times a day. I screamed in pain when the leg finally obeyed and began to move, and I cheered at even the least sign of progress. Each day, accomplishing another degree of bend was at stake.
Today I can walk. Only short distances, and mostly with pain. But I can walk. I can drive a car. And I have never met a chair that I can’t sit on normally. ☺