Wednesday, July 13, 2016

20 Years Ago This Month

This month has been a big one for me in the way of how long I've been around. It's been 20 years ago on 11th, July since I had a 4.3 level Melanoma surgically removed from the back of my left thigh. 

That doesn't sound very nice - and it wasn't - but it got done and I'm glad it did, because I'm alive today because of its removal.

Dr Michael Lanigan did my surgery - a great plastic surgeon - and he saved my life. I was only 22 1/2 and that was considered very young to have a skin cancer of this type. But it was also the amount of stitches I have that shock people - still. 

I got 43 stitches in the shape of a crooked 'S' - which we call 'the dollar sign'. This is because the surgery cost around $5,000 to get done at a private hospital through my private health fund. Sure it was only an overnight stay, but there was all the other stuff I had to get done too. 

My recovery wasn't great. I was stuck in bed for almost a week before I went back and got the stitches taken out. The really shitty thing was that I went into hospital 2 days before my holidays; so I was stuck with a bandage on my leg for a good part of my holidays and working on recovering from major surgery. When I returned to work, I had to put in for sick leave instead of holidays and asked for holidays again in the future - because I didn't end up going anywhere. My workplace let me do this and I ended up going to the coast about a month or so later to get in and do some proper recovery down there.

But first, I had to get my leg working again. I had to get myself walking again. Seeing it was on the back of my left thigh, this meant I was on a walking stick for about a month making it strong again. I was flat out getting up and down stairs; and I had to take the stick to work so I could use it during the day if I needed it.

However, as the last two decades have passed, I have become stronger. My leg has bothered me sometimes, but only to cramp up and warn me of weather changes - like cold snaps, rain and storms. Man, can my leg predict a storm! I've tried everything to keep it from cramping up so much, but not much helps. Yoga and 'Painaway' sprays and creams works. Sometimes a boiling hot shower does too - but they're all temporary and don't last long. Often, I have to just deal with the pain and get up and walk around in the night for hours on end; which does help. There have been times where I've taken a good walk around the unit complex late at night to pull the cramp out, come home and been able to sleep because the muscle is warmed up enough - weird, eh? Otherwise, there are shoes I just don't wear. My friends know I don't wear heels - not on purpose anyway. If I do, I'm in for a world pain the next few days from my feet and from my leg as it pulls the muscle in the wrong direction. So, if I'm going to wear heels, I make sure to wear block heels and not spiky ones.

The one thing that I do know is that I'm damned glad to be alive. I have cheated Death a few times now and I now feel as though I'm playing a game of chess with a whole new set of rules... that life is a party I'm crashing. When you are living a life where you know you're not supposed to be around, you see life in a whole new light. I know that sound morbid, but really, it's something you don't realise unless you've kind of 'been through the looking glass'. It's a weird feeling when doctors tell you that you may not be around in 5 years time; and the next thing you know, 20 years have zipped by! 

All I can say is that I've created a life and a world that I'm damned proud of. I don't care who thinks of what I do with my life - I'm alive because of Dr Lanigan; he saved my life. I'm also alive because I wanted to be here for my family and friends and my wonderful niece, Riley. If I wasn't here, she'd be only hearing stories about me from my family and visiting a grave... something I don't wish for for a very long time to come. 

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