Well not so fast...
Note to reader: Please address this post with an open mind, humor and ease as the subject may disturb and agitate some of you.
Truth is that I have my foot, and it's right here at home! (don't freak out, it's not in a jar or plastic bag)
So what do they do with remains of an amputated limb? Is it gone forever?
Well, this question has occupied me for many months after I made my decision to proceed with an elective amputation. My wish was to respect the process and have closure with it once it's done.
My journey of self discovery taught me many aspects about our inner relationship with our body.
When we are in our beloved mother womb for 9 months everything is taken care of. The magic begins the first moment a sperm penetrates the egg (and much earlier than that) and then within 9 months a human being is born. Cocooned in a body and ready to embark on a magical journey called life on planet earth.
However, at that moment everything changes, from perfected Divine care we switch to parental, human care, and as Wayne Dyer puts it – “this is where everything goes wrong”. I say this with utmost humility because this journey is our university, we come here to learn and evolve and we forget who we really are. This confusion is the source of our pain and misery.
One of my sacred lessons was – we are not the body. So what are we you ask? Well this question has been addressed by every religion and philosophy in human history. Everyone has their own answer or assumption but my short humble answer, based on my experiences, is that we are all souls having a human experience on this planet. what we learn and how we grow is up to us, and depends on how awake and aware we are - it's a personal choice as we are on different stages on our journey.
OK, that was deep enough for today… I’ll share more about my personal modest understanding of life later no, now back to my foot story.
As I mentioned before, my intention was to respect the process and come to closure with it so I decided to cremate the remains.
After much thought I came up with a plan:
I intend to spread half of the ashes on the summit of Hod Akev in The Judean desert in Israel, my birth country. This mountain has a very special place in my heart and I cherish my experiences it provided me with.
The second location is the summit of Mt. Logan, the highest mountain in Canada (second highest in North America). This will be a little different as the climb requires around 3 weeks of mountaineering style expedition (one of my favourite outdoor activities), so it will happen when I’m ready for it.
I also intend to keep some of the ashes and request my amazing Shakti love, Sonja to create a piece of glass art that will incorporate some of it, to serve as a constant reminder of my path and the choices I made.
When I asked different professionals along the way if this can be done, most said this is an unusual request and couldn't give me a direct answer. It boiled down to: ask your surgeon before surgery.
So this is what happened: I lay on the bed in the operating room, anesthesiologist is just about to put me down, WAIT I shout, I have a request, I would like my foot to be cremated. What? Cremated? Well I don’t really know what to do he said. So I turn to my surgeon, Dr. Viskontas, can you take care of it? Just a moment he said and stepped outside the operating room. He came back after 5 minutes, ok, this is unusual, but we'll take care of it for you. Boom I’m out for 2 hours. Woke up and the foot is gone.
After 2 days the social worker came to visit me and told me that my foot is held at the morgue and suggested I contact local funeral homes and request it to be cremated.
As I always ask for 3 bids for every professional service I require (in business and life) I did the same here. While my foot is refrigerated, bids started to come in: We charge for full body cremation and will give you a discount. Really? Well thank you, how much will it be? Prices varied from $2200 to $600… All I wanted was the ashes, no ceremony, no urn upgrade, please just the ashes.
I chose Vancouver crematorium and requested they call me just before cremation begins. After 10 days they called, we are about to begin in 30 minutes and it will take 1.5 hours.
This was an important part of achieving closure and as I wanted to meditate during that time and be fully present when it took place. Few days later they called – your remains are ready for collection. Wow it’s done! At this point I’ll let my love, Sonja share her experience with collecting my remains while I’m still alive:
Here is Sonja’s take on the experience:
I thought I would share my bizarre morning with a big chuckle! How many people on the planet will roll up to a crematorium and request the remains of their beloved... and they are still alive! Well I did this morning... and it was very odd - I told Erez I will never do this errand for him again! I arrive to the crematorium and ask the gentleman at the desk ' I am here to pick up the remains of my partner... who is still alive BTW' He looked at me funny then a light bulb went off and he said... 'oh yes I remember this was an unusual request" my reply " well how unusual would it be to throw your foot in a garbage can? That would be so dishonoring" he said 'I never thought about it that way' I also explained in Jewish culture they have to have all their body parts buried together and in Chinese culture it would be considered bad luck to the family and their financial longevity in Feng Shui to not have all your body placed to rest. I am surprised that this is not protocol in hospitals.. imagine waking up after an accident with missing limbs that have been taken and already disposed of - that would be an extra stress. Your company should implement this with all the hospitals... hey
this is good business idea for you" He then said 'You know you're right" I said "hey if this business idea flys... will you give me a discount when it's my time? And Erez should also get a discount cause he has paid partially already? We both laughed as I left . I said.. I'm not kidding about the discount ;-)
There is a first for everything
click here to watch my video on how to recover from an amputation on YouTube.
So here I am, one month after my amputation and boy, what can I say, these past few weeks have been tough, painful and certainly not a ‘walk’ in the park.
I’m under heavy pain control medication and I must share this with you – most hours of the day I’m in lala land, completely out and disconnected. Hour after hour pass by as I drift in space not really knowing what’s going on. This is why I didn’t post anything lately – couldn’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes, and if tried to write something down, in 3 minutes I couldn’t remember what I wanted to say.
Nerve pain (phantom pain as it’s known to amputees) is relentless – absolutely no relief.
24/7 around the clock for almost 3 weeks. I experienced shooting, stabbing, burning, numbing pain, it is hell. At the beginning I felt intense shooting pain right down to the ‘foot’, especially the injured ankle area. Over time it changed to stabbing pain then burning pain. Gradually it moved from my non-existent ‘foot’ up toward my stump (phenomenon described as ‘telescoping’ in professional terms) and now most of it feels like an electric currant is directed to my stump and the power is on 24/7…
I know almost everyone that underwent an amputation (or other severe injury/surgery) has experienced this to one degree or another, but I have to admit – I didn’t expect it to be so painful. Pain has been part of my life and over time I developed an interesting relationship with it where we don’t get angry at each other. At some point there’s acceptance and separation – here is my body experiencing pain, and here is me observing it. This may sound bizarre and obviously not possible every time, however, with practice and in depth meditation I learned to spend more time in the ‘observer’ corner than in the pain one.
I prepared as best I could prior to the operation, but nothing can prepare you to what happens after. We all plan, prepare, strategize and think we have control over our lives, only to be ‘surprised’ when life throw a curve ball at us and all of a sudden we face a new situation – one we didn’t expect. I worked very hard to detach myself from expectations of how things will be/feel like after however, life has its own course and power, and one can only stand aside, watch and learn.
Now the big question is how do we deal with it? Do we react from a place of shock, fear, panic, anxiety, or are we able to step back just enough to evaluate this ‘new’ situation and make our decision from a place of awareness and understanding?
Under the veil of my cocktail it was very difficult. I spent days hallucinating, not knowing what is real and what is not, am I awake or asleep, has this been a dream or reality. Above all the drugs didn’t help for days so dealing with high pain levels for days wasn’t an easy task. But all this is extraordinary! To be in a place that allows me to detach and observe life, to have this opportunity where I’m truly curious and interested, where I have great tools and a different way to deal with this – this is extraordinary, and with all the pain and suffering involved – I am grateful.