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How We Handled My Major Surgeries to Help My Kids Cope

I had my leg amputated in 2014. During that time, I was in the hospital for a total of six weeks. My son was only 2, so he doesn’t remember it, but my daughter was 4 and remembers it like it was yesterday. It amazes me all the details she can remember. I will never know what it is like to have my mom gone for that long and the worry she must have felt. What helped us get through that time are the things she remembers most.

We had the ability to Facetime with each other. This way, she could still call and see me even when they weren’t able to make it to the hospital. We also made sure I could be a part of their night. Some nights they would set up the phone, so we could have dinner together, and every night my husband would take the phone into the kids’ bedrooms, so I could be a part of their bedtime routine. My daughter still remembers I would sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her every night. As hard as it was for all of us to be away from each other for that long, this helped them know I was OK and for me to not miss out on their lives.

Since my amputation, I have had to have three surgeries. It is called the “s word” at our house because it makes my daughter so anxious to think about it. Each of the surgeries I have had resulted in me being in the hospital again for a few days to a week. As before we did Facetime whenever they weren’t able to come visit in person. When I was finally able to come home, we tried to keep the schedule as normal as possible, but obviously it isn’t the same. No one likes to change, and most kids thrive on structure and routine, so we had to make sure to keep this in mind. They are used to having mom take them to school and pick them up. They also aren’t used to mom having to lay down and sleep more.

To try to help with this, we planned out a schedule in advance, so they knew how they were getting to and from school. We planned overnight stays with grandparents and play dates with friends to try to keep their minds off it. We also took advantage of the time to get some extra snuggles in and pick shows to watch together, extra movies to watch and books to read. If there were days I felt up to it, I rode with whoever was picking them up to surprise them.

My kids give me the motivation to get up every day and try as hard as I can to be the best mom I can be. I continue to deal with chronic pain, and it is possible I will need more surgeries in the future. This experience has brought out compassion for others in our kids to an extent that they likely wouldn’t have had before. They also see that even when life deals you unexpected and unwanted issues, you continue to get up, you never give up and you always have hope.

We used to plan based on, “When mom feels better.” Now we don’t know if mom will ever feel better, so instead we try to live life to the fullest and figure out how to do things even if mom doesn’t feel good. It involves a lot more planning to try to go on a vacation to make sure that everywhere is accessible for me and I’m not able to do everything the rest of the family is able to do, but we try to make it as normal as possible.

My daughter says the best part of having a mom with an amputated leg is that we get to go to the front of the line when we went to Disneyland. Even though there are difficult days, try to find the silver linings and blessings with your kids. Keep getting up and trying, and most of all, keep living life.

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Getty image by TatyanaGl