The first year after the amputation, I was despondent and ashamed and I simply told people I lost my leg fighting in Afghanistan. But then that explanation led to more questions and more lies and people wanted to drive me to the VA Hospital and run marathons under my name and all this stuff, I began feeling awful about living a lie. So I moved from Towson, Maryland to Virginia Beach and tried restarting my life.
I told the truth for a while. But I am unclear about the truth myself. I know I developed a painful boil or a carbuncle, underneath my leg, inside my thigh, close to where the leg meets the crotch. I have all these fatty folds there and everything meets in that spot, sweat, my hairy testicles, I had a rash there for a number of years. I got fat, my legs rubbed together. Sometimes when I slept, the itching would keep me awake. I would douse the spot with Calamine lotion. I noticed a hardened nodule would appear at times and I could squeeze and pop the nodule like a pimple.
Then I lost track of life. I got fatter, I tried losing weight. I rode a bicycle around, the seat was painful, gave me saddle sores. My pants got a little tighter and I didn’t have the money to buy a bigger pair. I dated one girl who wouldn’t go down on me because she said my crotch stank. Another girl I dated cleaned out my bellybutton and the slime she extracted with a cotton swab made me gag. She demanded I show her how I bathe myself and I showered with her and she said my bathing routine was fine, I swab soap in all the right places but I shower too fast. She said I had to slow down and take more time cleaning all the nooks and crannies and all around.
One night I was naked, sitting in front of my computer, and I rubbed the spot inside of my thigh on the computer chair and shot up in extreme pain. The boil or carbuncle or whatever had already formed. I didn’t have any insurance since I was only working part time in a picture frame store. I tried popping the boil like a zit to relieve the pressure but the boil was too hard. All the squeezing and prodding and grabbing made the swelling worse. Now I had a swollen spot which tapered left to right like a snake. I thought if I could puncture and drain the boil then the pain would go away.
I found a tiny pair of toe nail scissors, which I also used to clip my nose hairs. I used the tiny scissors to puncture the boil and, frankly, the scissors were all I could really find in the house for the job, apart from wooded toothpicks. I wasn’t a fool, I knew I had to disinfect the scissors, so I ran them underneath hot water until they were too hot to the touch. Then I sat down on the couch, naked, spread my legs, wrapped my testicles out of the way with a towel, and inserted the sharpest of the two points of the scissors into the angry vertex of the boil. The pain was unbearable but I jammed that point in there. Then I squeezed. A clear liquid came out at first, plasma I guess, but then some blood, dark in color. Hardly any pus was extracted which puzzled me. I squeezed as hard as I could getting all the bad blood out. After I had squeezed the inflamed spot into what looked like a red gummy worm, I cleaned everything out with alcohol swabs and slapped a band-aid over the area.
The next morning I felt fine. I poked at the spot and the swelling had dissipated. I felt no pain when I changed the band-aid after I showered. Then I went to work and sat on a stool in front of a counter for nine hours.
Walking home, riding the bus, my leg began to hurt. I went into the bathroom in a Taco Bell halfway home and checked my leg. Nothing out of the ordinary, the leg was no more swollen than in the morning but squeezing my thigh made me buckle in pain. When I got home, I experienced immediate relief by simply taking off my pants. So I took some Ibuprofin, sat spread out on the couch while watching a basketball game, and passed out.
“Blood Sepsis” caused by “Streptococcus Pyogenes” which then led to a “Transfemoral Amputation.” I almost died because of three things which sound to me like names for Icelandic death metal bands. The doctor said I was lucky my amputation didn’t reach up to my pelvis although, looking down, I can’t tell the difference.
I told the truth for a while. After I tell them, people inch away from me and do this thing with their hands and fingers like they are unconsciously itching to wash their hands. I can hear their thoughts, how dirty do you have to live in order to lose your damn leg? I live dirtier now because I can’t clean effectively with one leg. I am fatter now because I don’t “walk” as much. I am not as hygienic. Have you ever tried balancing yourself in a slippery tub on one leg, propping yourself upright with one hand while attempting to soap your body with a rag in the other hand? Try it sometime. So much fun.
I’m fucking with you. I have rails in my bathtub and a chair to sit while I bathe. But fuck you just the same. Cleaning my house is exactly as hard now as it was before the amputation. I don’t have money for a maid.
Changed “Straptococcus Namo Kines” to “Straptococcus Pyogenes”
The first serious boyfriend I had lost his leg immediately after high school, down in a Job Corps center. Got a scratch on his leg while tearing a motor out, there wasn’t even a first aid kit where the students had access, and the teacher had wandered off campus while expecting him to finish winching out the block by himself. A dangerous task even for two men, let alone an inexperienced boy. By the time the teacher returned, said boy was exhausted and encouraged to go out for beers with the rest of the students, and sleep in the next day. Which is exactly what he did, forgetting to clean out the scratch first. The next day his leg hurt like hell and they did the same thing, scrubbed the entrance wound raw, filled him full of OTCs and gave him some Nyquil to sleep off the soreness. The next day was a Sunday, and he was sick and fevered, but there was no staff willing to do their job on their universal day off. His fever put him into a coma that night, and he came out of it to fins his leg gone, and halfway lost his mind. The govt has a ‘cannot be sued’ clause covering the Job Corps Centers. It takes so little to trigger sepsis, even with correct care. …And on an irreverent note, I know a metal band named Sepsis, they used to tour with a friend’s.
Henry, the male lead in Snows of Kilimanjaro, lost his life to sepsis and gangrene due to a thorn scratch on the knee.