Control Freak

Being an amputee has it’s challenges. Being a control freak and being an amputee can be much worse. I like to write about the good and the bad, but I try to navigate my words toward the good side of the scale more often. I have written about my time in the hospital, but not overly so.

Something has come to light for me recently that has made me take a hard look at myself, and my psyche. Like I said, I am a control freak. I always have been… I like things done my way, and I like things done on my terms. This part of me made me really great and also really bad at some of the things in my life. Put me in the hospital, though, and you take all of my control away.

I never realized just how horribly this has affected me until I recently had a panic attack while with a friend. It was such a horrible outburst by me that I nearly ended a friendship with someone I respect and think very highly of. But how did my time in the hospital bring this on?

I spent three months in a hospital, lying on my back. I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed. Hell, I couldn’t get out of bed. If I wanted to take care of bodily functions I had to push a button and ask someone if I could…. Then I had to wait for them to come help me do it. The control freak had lost all control of everything that was happening to him.

I experienced a mini-coma after one of my surgeries, and before I was even really awake someone at the hospital tried to get me to drink some water. It went down the wrong way… Heck, I wasn’t even awake yet and had no idea where I was at. I choked on it. This left me with nearly three weeks of drinking coffee the consistency of honey, and getting all my water by sucking it out of a sponge on a stick. Really, if I was thirsty, I had to suck it out of a sponge.

I didn’t even have control over my own hydration.

Actually, the only real decision I had while I served my time in the hospital was when my legs would going to come off. My options were have more tests that were going to tell me my feet were dead and live with more agonizing pain, or go ahead and get it over with. Some choice, eh?

I once had to argue with a nurse about being allowed to have a bowel movement in a hospital bathroom without her standing over me watching. I. Kid. You. Not. I had to be ugly enough with her to make her cry before she would step outside the bathroom. As I look back now, that little outburst was probably a very small panic attack.

For many amputees the hospital stay is not nearly so long and protracted as mine was. That does not make me tougher –or better — but it does make me different.

Before I was a bad passenger in vehicles other people were driving…. Now I am a complete asshole who freaks out when others do even slightly unsafe things…

Before I was a guy who hated having to take my shoes off for airport security…. Now I get so torn up inside abut being made to stand to one side — and have a stranger put their hands on me and search me — that I can’t think straight…

Before I hated not being in control….. Now, my mind literally can not handle when control is taken from me.

I just aced two psychology classes in past semesters at college and it has still taken me until now to realize that I am exhibiting classic signs of agoraphobia and panic disorder. I hope that realizing this is an issue for me will help me recognize when it is happening and keep me from making an ass of myself or hurting the feelings of others in the future.

Why am I blogging about this? Because if it has happened to me, then it will happen to someone else…. And perhaps reading this will help another amputee who had all their control taken away from them… and perhaps they can get help if they need it..

And perhaps I am blogging about this to tell my friends and family that I know I am over the top sometimes, but I will try to be better about it in the future. And maybe this is also an apology to a friend who didn’t deserve to see me freak out on them……

Hello. My name is Neil, and I am a recovering control freak.