Kathie and Fred at Kathie's Birthday party 11 months before the loss of Fred's leg.

Kathie and Fred at Kathie’s Birthday party 11 months before the loss of Fred’s leg.

After my friends experienced the initial shock and disbelief about the loss of my leg, as should be expected, they have gone back to their lives and their routines. Out of sight truly does result in out of mind.

Who is left to help pick up the fragments of my life? my wife Kathie.

Kathie is the one who had to place clean sheets on the couch because the cushions were too rough to lie on all day.

Kathie is the one who figured out I could attach my bladder catheter bag to a hanger placed under the couch cushion. She was the one who had to empty the urine four times per day.

It was Kathie who changed the dressing of my amputated leg. She wore sterile gloves and carefully placed the gauze along the incision to trap any drainage. She admits this was very hard, and after she removed her rubber gloves her hands were sweaty as a consequence of the stress associated with cleaning my wounds.

Kathie had to sleep in the guest room because I could only sleep one hour at a time because of the pain. My tossing, turning and intermittent subconscious groans made it impossible for her to sleep. We had our cell phones so that I could call if I had an emergency.

When my ace bandages, carefully wrapped in a figure-8 pattern to prevent residual limb swelling, slipped off in the middle of the night, it was Kathie who helped me re-wrap them.

I will never forget my 3 AM call in panic. I had tried to wheel to the bathroom and the lines of my pain pump got wrapped around the wheel of my walker. I tried to untwist the lines, but they were hopelessly tangled. I lay down on the floor and called. Kathie arrived rubbing her eyes, but with a gentle touch and a concerned expression she worked for 15 minutes before the lines were free. We laughed and cried with relief. We were both exhausted the next day.

For the first three months it was Kathie that had to bring my coffee and my meals, because I simply couldn’t do it myself. She patiently fulfilled my every request.

Did you ever try to carry coffee using a walker? The coffee spills all over the floor. I tried to carry a slice of pie to the couch using the walker, and guess where it ended up? upside-down on the floor.  Finally I figured out a routine. When Kathie isn’t home I eat all meals at our kitchen counter near the microwave and refrigerator. I can move plates and cups from counter to counter using my arms and avoiding using the walker. If I want to drink coffee on the couch, I now place the cup on the kitchen counter as close as possible to the couch coffee table. I wheel around to that side of the counter positioning my walker between the counter and the coffee table, and with a steady smooth movement of my arm and hand transport the cup from the counter to the coffee table. I then wheel to the couch, sit down and reach over to the end of the coffee table for my coffee. Drinking a cup of coffee on the couch used to be so simple, now it is a complex orchestrated operation.

Losing a leg is not a solo sport. I have realized it takes a team, and Kathie is my team. As I kidded with her last night, without her I would be F**ed (we thought people would think this is funny, but it’s true!).  Kathie has never complained. She cares so very much. As the plaque she has placed on our wall says “Most of all let love guide your life.” And Kathie follows the path of love every day.

Thank you my Kathie; without you my life without a leg would be unbearable.