At precisely ten o’clock local time on October 23rd, I will be soundly asleep as doctors and nurses lay my dormant body on an operating table. For them, this is another routine procedure.
On the other hand, I understand it as nothing short of rebirth.
It’s been nearly four years at this point, but in the past, I was an extremely active cyclist; living on Chicago’s north side, tenaciously pursuing both my professional and personal goals. I didn’t, at the time, realize the widespread pain throughout my body was anything unordinary. It had always been there, barely under the surface, waiting to strike. The good news was my routine 10-15 mile rides and frequent walks were enough to keep the worst symptoms at bay.
Every day, I arose and began to slog through the pain and fatigue caused by what I would later learn is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (though I wouldn’t be given a diagnosis until late 2015). With each new morning came a fresh challenge to push my limits. Until my front bicycle tire landed in a deep Chicago pothole, at a relatively high rate of speed, that is.
To say I’m familiar with bicycle wrecks is an understatement. In my days criss-crossing Chicagoland, my body has bounced off vehicles and slid across dirty pavement, but I never expected to land with such force after my upper body flew over the handlebars. However, most concerning was my lower right leg, which remained trapped between the pedal assembly and frame as I traveled forward; leading to a quick and painful seperation of the ankle joint.
From that spring day until now, I’ve spent time with an increasingly complex set of mobility devices. My cane doesn’t remove enough weight, and neither did the custom-designed carbon fiber ankle-foot-orthosis that I wore for most of last year. In May, a surgeon attempted to reconstruct my Anterior talofibular ligaments using a technique known as the “internal brace.” Gnarly scars and escalating pain are all I have to show for it.
Back to the ten o’clock rendezvous with my future. I’ve selected one of the nation’s best surgeons to amputate my lower right leg using the Ertl technique. During the operation, which can take up to four hours, the painful portion of my limb will be removed, before fusing the tibia and fibula bones together using a donor bone-bridge taken from the amputated limb.
The next few months will bring rapid change, not only to my body, but to the site where you’re currently reading these words, as well. Secret Fader, (or simply “Fader,” as I’ve become known in hacker circles) is more than a change in my online moniker. To me, the name change represents a fresh start, a chance to focus primarily on cybersecurity work and educational projects, topics that most everyone will agree are incredibly necessary in this chaotic world.
Expect content to begin appearing with increasing frequency here on the blog. I have a fair number of posts in the hopper, from switching to Linux as a full-time desktop OS to designing small electronics projects, I’ll cover it all. Of course, I’ll also write about my life as an amputee, including both the bright and dark moments post-surgery.
Whatever comes of this procedure, the triumphs and frustrations, know that I’ll be hacking and writing thoroughout the process as I slowly become a better version of myself; as I realize what it means to “hack” my body. Because the process that draws something out of nothing to become a fully-formed work is encouragingly cathartic for me, and if you’re reading this, I assume in some small part, for you as well. Here’s to the future.