DO you ever think about cutting a limb off?

This sounds like the craziest question one could ask another human. Is it a normal thought? Is it just me who thinks this? Do others have a similar conversation in their minds?

Ever since I came to accept my arm would never move again, I have thought about having it amputated and getting myself a cool prosthetic arm. I sit and watch my mates who have missing arms and observe how they have adapted to life and how free they look. 

Now I know it’s different losing a limb compared to paralysis, but I am so tired of carrying my paralysed arm around with me that the inner conversation of cutting it off becomes almost a daily occurrence. 

As I sit on my sofa each evening, I keep thinking of what life would be like with no arm, no more pain? Would I be free of this weight around my neck? I also don’t want to spend my life with it in a sling every day.

I have tried to adapt to not using a sling and tucking it inside back packs or looping it through a jacket. But I can’t walk around wearing a backpack every day. My arm needs constant support as it is permanently dislocated.

This leaves me in constant pain and as my arm hangs it also starts to pull on the nerves into my neck. The only escape from this pain is either sleeping or when on the bike.

And it is this moment on the bike that currently stops me from cutting it off: it helps with the balance of the bike. I can also push the dislocation back into place whilst on the bike so it’s not quite like flipping a coin to make this decision. 

Cutting any limb off is a massive decision and something that would have massive impact - not just on your physical body but it would have a massive psychological impact too. 

There is also the fact that as humans we are meant to have two arms. If I woke up one day and it wasn’t there would that be a traumatic experience? 

Would there be other issues too - like the phantom pain that I would have to deal with, this is just some of my inner thoughts around this arm. Unfortunately, it completely unknown and mostly subjective. I would not know what life would be like till I amputated it and at that point it is too late to change my mind.

I remember asking one of my team-mates who had lost his arm from and RPG in Afghanistan and he just said ‘cut it off, look at me and how free I move’. That conversation is at the front of my mind right now as the pain is so bad. 

What about painkillers? After reading the side effects of one painkiller I would rather live with the pain than deal with the side effects of the drug. Depression and suicidal thoughts were just two of the possible side-effects. 

There is also the possibility of someone finding a cure for spinal injuries which would be a real kick in the teeth if I cut it off to only find out there is now a cure. 

I had a similar conversation about my left leg as a running prosthetic leg would mean I might run again. But running is not worth cutting my leg off for, I will stick to cycling. However, this arm is not driven by a sport decision, it is a lifestyle one. 

Would my life be easier without it? Even to just get off the sofa to go to the bathroom I have to carry my arm, it is like having this extra thing that you just have to carry about all day that serves very little purpose. 

The saving of the arm this week is getting back on my bike and seeing how it does help there, but as I sit down for dinner most nights, I find myself reading stories of people who have had the procedure done. One lady said she wished she had done it seven years ago and another incredible athlete who says it’s the best decision he has made. 

It’s a conversation is fundamentally hard wired into my mind, something I know I am always going to think about: to keep my paralysed arm or to have it cut off.