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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

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« Grocerymobile | Main | And while we're on the subject of the "thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to"... »


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Ron Sullivan

Also: Monkey brain makes the most noise. Big wrinkly graymatter cerebrum might gasp and flinch and then start calculating, but monkeybrain SCREEEEEEEAMMMMS.

So, archetypal and the stuff of nightmares*, and also direct hit on monkeybrain = loud.

And then things right themselves and all that adrenaline is still flushing around and, whew. You're lucky you didn't get whiplash.

*My brother, as a small child, once fell asleep with his arm under his pillow and woke up and the arm has fallen "asleep" and he could neither feel nor see it. You wanna talk about screams? Hooo, scared half the neighborhood. Couldn't say I blamed him either.

Funny thing about surviving our nightmares: It doesn't stop them from coming back. Dammit.


Heh -- yeah. And I can now honestly say I know how your brother felt.

You know what the great thing about this little incident is, though? Not counting going to the hospital here to have my leg off in the first place (which was still not as bad as having it blown off or hacked off inadvertently, as so many are, or even having it off at one of the filthy, overcrowded teaching hospitals in Boston), or the last days of my last two beloved cats (which were going to happen somewhere and be horrible no matter what), this picnic table thing is the single most terrifying experience I've ever had in Concord, Massachusetts.

I hope I can continue to say that for a long, long time.


Well first off, a little misunderstand when reading as you were talking about when you were a child and how generously porportioned - and it was flashback to Junior high and you are one of the "Early developers" (sorry, around our house generously porportioned is slang for D cup and up) - so, the story starts and you are already rubbing your early developing generous brests into my tramatized junior high memories.

Except that wasn't what you were saying. Oops.

The same thing happens to us with picnic tables - they are tricky things, when you stand up to pass the salt and blammo, suddenly it is the deck of a sinking ship.

Sorry you had such a horrid primal response into terror response. Can I ask, how long did you have regular phantom limb sensation? And as for the hospital, can you go back? Have you been back? I have had some sort of naseau going to places where I had old wounds. I read a piece written by a woman who gave chemo in a special cancer wing and she said people would start vomiting just seeing her in her special Chemo suit as she was bringing the chemo to them. I can sort of relate to that since ever since one incident after knee surgery where a missed step started a screaming pain and a literal gyser of blood I have never felt particularly safe around jaccuzzi's. I was wondering if the hospital had a similar effect? Sorry if this is too painful/personal a subject - please ignore it if is.


I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but I will try to answer.

First, about the phantom: I had my leg off four years ago in October. I have had phantom limb sensation the entire time; I have not, however, had pain, a stroke of pure good fortune. So it doesn't bug me at all, most of the time.

In fact, usually it's sort of comforting. One of the things that icked me out worst about the prospect of amputation was the concept of having something completely removed, never to see or feel it again, just this big vacancy. Only I don't have a sense of vacancy. I can feel every toe as though it were still there. I can feel my arch, my heel, my calf, everything -- but not the cancer; yay. When I do yoga without my prosthetic on, or barre exercises balancing on my remaining organic leg, I use the phantom to direct my movements just as I used the late leg when I had it. Only it isn't really happening. The end of my stump moves up and down, and even does this inside my socket when I stretch while wearing my prosthetic, and it feels just like it did when I moved my original leg only with this curious Tupperware sensation embracing part of the thigh. If I want to move my prosthetic leg, on the other hand, that has to happen at my hip. My monkey brain hasn't reconciled all this, though, and might never, so it got a little bit of a shock.

I have no fear about the hospital here (except re bills) and have been back more than once. My oncologist is there. It's also where I went for stitches when I sliced my hand open on broken glass long after I'd returned to work. It's the best one in northeastern Massachusetts; of this I am convinced, having visited several others. With only extremely rare occasions of incompetent/careless nursing or doctor-vs.-patient power struggles, very rare indeed, I have only ever received compassionate, respectful, and competent care in a clean environment at this hospital. The point I meant to make in my previous comment is that, even though it was once scary to make myself go through with an amputation which just happened to be at a hospital in this town, and even though two out of five of my cats happened to end up their lives here, I have a preposterously easy life overall and this is a ridiculously safe town. :)

As for my primal response, mostly it just surprised us both. We were laughing, though. It was ridiculous and strange.

As for size, well, the last time I was both under 5' tall and flat-chested was early 4th grade. Though I later starved myself briefly down to 115 lbs. to be a low-level fashion model in high school, this is why I can't remember what it's like to be physically small. I have been small-minded from time to time since then, however, in spite of my generously proportioned physique, but do prefer to try to live large, albeit in a trivial, suburban way.

Now I wonder if anyone has ever done a study to determine how big you have to be or how far away your trash has to fly in order to make a picnic table seesaw when you sit on the end and lean over. Sounds like an excellent candidate for the IgNobel Awards.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso

I have had a similar experience, and I may or may not have also been compared to a monkey regarding my scream. Ergo I think your reaction was quite natural, but um, warning? The crispness of this experience will fade with time. I'm just sayin.


Heh -- I like to think we have learned our lesson and will sit more strategically from now on. Hopefully we will not have enough experiences like this to become jaded. :)


I learnt something from your writing - a lot about courage and self awareness. Thankyou very much for the insights.

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