Sunday, December 25, 2005

let the rebirthing begin

So my last post was about Wednesday.
This post is about Thursday.
And it's Sunday.
(so I'm behind....what else is new)
Early Thursday morning I had my first Physical Therapy appointment for gait training (aka: now get yer ass up and walk damn it!).

TheMIG came with me, which I thought was so sweet and supportive...although it was later explained to me that he went because he wanted to actually SEE how it went, as opposed to HEAR about it, because he knew I'd leave things out if I was asked to describe the session. Well, phooey...I'm sticking with sweet and supportive. But he does have a good point. I don't think I could have described the look on my face when I actually took a few steps without any kind of assistive device (parallel bars, crutches, canes, etc).

I wore a prosthesis very sporadically Dec 04-Jun 05, but I was never able to take anything that looked like a real step without something to hold onto. In fact, I was even told that maybe walking with a cane was as good as it was going to get for me. I have a hard time buying that when I see that some amputees manage to compete in triathalons. I mean, I'm not asking for anything fancy here...I just want to walk. And if they can do a triathalon, surely I can walk without a frickin' cane.

The real issue here is that I've never trusted my prosthesis. And for good reason--the last prosthetist was never been able to make a socket that would actually consistently stay on my thigh. It would literally become so loose that it would spin me into a 45-degree pigeon toe or, as would happen on a couple of occasions, it would actually fall off! And these "fit issues"would happen when I was in, let's say, the very back of a Costco ..and there I'd be....painfully hobbling for a loooong time to get to a place where I could futz with it and try it again. If putting it back on again was even an option at that point, which sometimes was not.

Well, I think this new leg man has finally made me a socket that stays on. For starters, it's adjustable. It has a buckle on it that I can crank tight when it gets loose as my thigh does it's daily bizarre shrinking and swelling thing. The socket he made doesn't look nearly as clean lined, sexy, and elegant as the last one (the one that would fall off).....but it's going to have to be function over form this time. You have NO IDEA how badly I wish the elves left me a digital camera for the holidays. I would LOVE to show you a photo comparison of the old socket to the new. This new one stays on, yes, hooray!! But it looks like I made it myself playing with a glue gun and a first aid kit. I kid you not. It even has DUCT TAPE on it in places. No shit.

But it works. And it stays on. And I feel stable. And I actually took a few steps hands free that even looked like real steps, knee bending, no stumbling or hesitating, and only a very slight limp. But I only got a few of those good steps out, because on that note, let me say:
I haven't used some of those muscles in a very very long time. I got tired more quickly than I expected.

The PT really recognized my trust issues and has me doing these very small, repetitive leg movements that from the outside probably look like nothing exciting is being learned...but the exercises are designed to help me understand what this leg can do, and what it cannot...and what I can do, and what I cannot. They are designed to get me trust the prosthesis.

Bottom line: I feel a bit more enthusiastic about putting in the hard work than I did on Wednesday. And THAT to me is worth it's weight in gold.


Anonymous said...

Mazeltov, my friend! These last two posts have been so well written. I just want to add a little encouragement (from one who's been there) for you to continue to be patient with yourself and the process. This takes a looooooooooong time, and now that you have better tools, you will still have to work at it -- hard, every day -- to get to that place of trust you desire. Some days it will be fifteen minutes of hard work. Some days it will be hours and hours. The trust will come, though, as will better wound healing, stump strengthening, stump toughening, muscle development, and balance plus some skills you will instinctively build which will allow you to compensate for the odd misstep, patch of ice, or socket slippage inside a pair of pants in a public place. I know it's already taken you such a dreadfully long time just to get here, but barring further catastrophes, now things are going to go a lot faster, as long as you do the work. And eventually, you will get to a place where you don't have to think about it anymore. Really.

It's all kind of miraculous. It's clumsy, and awkward, and a gigantic pain in the ass. But tools and training will work. You will move past this point.

I'm so thrilled for you to have gotten this far. Better to come, soon.

jodi said...

This may be a stupid suggestion, but I'm a sewer and not an amputee. Until the new prosthesis is perfected, could you open up a section of the outer leg seam in some of your trousers and install a zipper (the blind kind that's covered up by the cloth)? Then you'd have easier access in case of public slippage. Of course, that would be a lot of hassle too.