Being comfortable with risk. That doesn’t mean taking unrealistic risks that may result in drastic consequences, but weighing up the pros and cons of any situation, in order to make a decision that will be beneficial to our lives. In my experience, hard decisions, in particular risk laden decisions have the most power to shape us.
In 2009 I was faced with a life changing decision. I wasn’t always a double below knee amputee, in fact, I spent 8 years with a partial foot amputation on my left leg that was painful and problematic. I noticed I was experiencing increased pain in my foot and decided that I should have it checked out… The diagnosis – Osteomyelitis (an infection in the bone) with no chance of it improving or disappearing. Initially, there was worry, followed by uncertainty which turned into fear at the prospect of more surgery.
I made a choice to be proactive about the decision I was faced with, to educate myself about all possibilities and scenarios that may eventuate. First step – evaluate risk.
In total I went to 5 specialists for advice. I wanted and needed to approach this with my eyes wide open, it was essential that I became comfortable with the risks and that I also owned my decision and assumed total responsibility for my future.
There were many suggestions and recommendations for other surgeries that would involve extended stays in hospital and long rehabilitation times, none of which I was interested in.
In my mind, I knew deep down what my ideal outcome would look like – I wanted to amputate below the knee…
When I told people of this desire, I was met with a range of reactions, many of them were along the lines of “that’s crazy!” or “why would you choose to do that?” I can understand why it may have seemed so drastic to others but up to that point in my life, my strongest, most dominant leg was always my prosthesis – I wanted to put an end to the pain and ongoing issues I had with my left leg. I also wanted to gain a sense of psychological closure and move forward with my life.
The benefits, when measured against the risks, ultimately allowed me to make that decision and be entirely comfortable with it.
Thankfully, the surgery went exceptionally well and I was up and going in a very short amount of time.
Since then my life has changed for the better. Taking that risk, albeit a risk I had to take, wasn’t just physically beneficial to my life, but emotionally and mentally beneficial as well.
I believe making tough decisions will make you stronger, having the courage to make a change to something that detracts from your life is incredibly empowering.
Sometimes we make these decisions because they need to be made, whereas sometimes they are thrust upon us. Sometimes we seek to change the things we want to improve and often these decisions come with consequences and risk. Making yourself aware of these risks through research and education, then becoming comfortable with them can enable you to make huge improvements in your life.
“There’s no reward in life without risk” – Barry J Farber