May 4th. May Fucking 4th. The day everything changed.
I often think of my life journey and the events that will be become part of it. Majority of the time those are positive events but, life has shown me negative events will occur as well. I, however, never could have imagined this would become apart of it. That this would be part of my story. What started out as a simple hospital admittance for one illness led to something unbelievably tragic.
My mother contracted Zygomycosis, a fungal infection, while in the hospital for treatment of her Sarcoidosis. The infection started from her IV puncture site becoming infected. Although she complained many times about her arm becoming worse, her concerns were dismissed. She even went back to the hospital twice to complain that the infection was worsening and they brushed off her concerns. She finally went to a different campus of the same hospital system and they immediately realized something was wrong. But, it was too late. Too late. See, Zygomycosis spreads rapidly and, because she was continually dismissed, the debridement surgeries were not successful.
Here comes May 4th. The day her entire right arm was amputated. Her right arm. From the shoulder. Her dominant arm. The arm she writes with. Gone. Ceases to exist.
One moment I will remember for the rest of my life is when surgery was completed she kept asking us to put a pillow under her arm. The arm that was now gone. Yes, she was still slightly sedated but, how do you tell someone that you no longer have an arm. That there isn't an arm to lift up to place a pillow underneath it. How do you tell someone that? How? I still don't know. So, we pretended to pick up her arm and place a pillow next to her. It wasn't enough. She couldn't feel it. In her sedated haze, she still thought her arm was there. She could feel it. And, she kept asking us...over and over and over again, to pick her arm up and place a pillow under it. My heart and strength shattered in that moment.
At 51 years old, her life changed forever. How do you put on a bra? How do you tie your shoelaces? How do you learn to re-write? How do you cook and do the dishes? How do you drive and switch radio stations? How do you lotion your arm? How do you hold your future grandchild and feed them at the same time?
How do you tell your children it will be ok when you don't know yourself?
May 4th. May Fucking 4th. The day it all ended and the day it all began.