"Give me a glass of water, please," I said to my first son with eyes fixed on the screen of the laptop and fingers relentless on the keyboard. I heard him shift his 80kg, 1.70m frame up from the carpet he laid on behind me.
"Who took my slippers?" he demanded.
I paused for a brief moment and thought about his question. “Oh, I think your uncle took them when he went down to the cave a few minutes ago," I answered as I recalled his uncle looking for a pair of slippers to put on earlier. It is very cold in the cave, and he did not want to go down wearing just his socks.
Eyes still fixed on the screen and without turning in his direction I added, "You can take my slippers." There was no movement or response from him. I turned around and saw a weird look on his face, he was staring at the spot on the floor near me. Then, I looked down to the floor. That was when it hit me. There were no slippers on the floor by me. There were no feet either. I didn't have my Feet of Grace (prosthetic limbs) on. My stumps were resting on a stool under the table.
We exchanged a look that spoke louder than words. For a brief moment, I forgot that I am an amputee. I don’t have my feet anymore. And I can't wear my slippers too.
For many years, I took great care of my feet and toenails. I had feet spa and pedicure regularly before I came to live in Switzerland. Then I realized that it was wisdom for me to do my pedicure myself at home. It was too expensive to go to the salon to do it. I shared many happy moments with my sons; they both struggled to help me to remove my nail polish and to put a fresh one. Each son worked on a foot. The fastest always wanted to move to his brother's side, which, of course, always result in an argument. They did that without any complaint until they became teenagers, and I could not get them to help me clean and polish my toenails anymore!
I loved jogging and walking. With those feet, I covered many kilometres. I even did some competitive running and swimming in the university when I represented my hall of residence during the inter-hall games. Each time I went for walks with my husband, he always had to slow me down because I was a very fast walker, always taking long strides.
Another favourite hobby of mine was shoes collection. I like my shoes, with their coordinating bags. I liked them with high heels, at least 6cm high. I didn't like flat heeled shoes because I felt I walk like a duck in them. I like to walk with long strides with my back straight and to hold my head high. I learnt to place a heavy book on my head when I was a teenager to ensure that I walk without slouching. And I liked dainty slippers that showed off my toenails.
“How many shoes can one woman wear?” asked my husband in utter amazement many times. My ready-made response was that they were of different colours and styles. I have a couple of Sistas who beat me hands down when it comes to shoes collection. “Imelda Marcus’ junior sister” as we nicknamed her, used to be my shoe-exchange partner. Then I met the mother of all shoes’ collectors, the height of her shoes and the way she moves in them dropped my jaws. I remember gleefully telling my husband that he should be happy I was not as bad as my two friends.
I had just polished my toenails during the week leading up to April 13th, 2013 when the hospital called me in for the lungs transplant surgery. I did not have time to remove the nail polish before going into the hospital, just did the fingernails. When I woke up from induced coma over four weeks later, it was the unusually brilliant polished toenails that caught my attention. I realized later that my usually subtle colour stood out because my feet had gone very dark as a result of the necrosis.
I learnt later that the doctors had told my husband that my feet were not likely to recover and to protect the precious gift of life God gave me, they would need to amputate my feet. He told me that he refused to accept their verdict. He went back home, brought all my shoes into the middle of the bedroom and began to pray that the owner of the shoes would have the opportunity to wear them again. That was before God gave us the word of assurance that He would give me the Feet of Grace that would take to places beyond my imagination and where my natural feet cannot take me.
For many days after the amputation, I refused to look at the stumps. Each time the nurses changed the dressing, they asked me if I wanted to look at them, and I answered with an emphatic "No!" turning my face away. The wounds healed with such amazing rapidity that I could not help but notice the joy with which the nurses announced it to each other.
Finally, I looked. First at the space where the rest of my leg and feet should have been. Then I looked at the stumps. The nurse examining them looked up at me, “they are healing so well” she said. “It is remarkable.” The skin was dry and peeling off in big chunks. It required that we applied a special lotion every night before putting a light bandage on them. First, my husband offered to do it. Then my sons took turns every night to apply the lotion and bandage the stumps before leaving the hospital for home. They did not show any awkwardness touching the stumps neither were they ashamed. It was a huge deposit on my self-esteem account.
And that was the beginning of the path to my emotional recovery. It was rough but I am still standing, kept by the grace of God and the support of my husband and sons. Watch out for the concluding part of this story in the next post.
Feet of Grace 2015 Charity Walk_Hit The Street For Their Feet:
Feet Of Grace In Motion
Date: Saturday, April 25th, 2015 D.V.
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