It feels so close, yet so far away. I can almost taste hat it feels like to run! But I am getting ahead of myself. There is always an order, logical yet annoying. Balance, stand, walk, jog, run. With 101 exercises in between to ensure that I don’t injure myself. A girl can still dream though, right?
In the last couple of weeks since I had the final staples removed, I have been continuing to exercise my hip flexors. I decided that I should probably do some cardio also. This can be quite challenging with only one foot and I’m not a huge fan of Pilates videos. So one day I decided to screw together a dowel and a block of wood to make a left foot/leg. I used a bungee cord to secure this contraption into the left pedal of our recumbent bike. My MacGyver style fix was a success! I was able to bike for short periods of time using the dowel rod in place of my left foot. Taylor is always my most adorable cheerleader. This did work my left obliques and shoulder muscles quite a bit as well.
It was a very exciting day when I finally got cast for my temporary socket. Such a neat process! I recorded it to show Taylor when I got home. She was very intrigued by the full-length videos (8-10 minutes worth) that I decided to merge them and speed them up to share!
I am 7 weeks post-op and I cannot wait to get my temporary socket and foot. One more day! I feel like I’ve been waiting for an excruciatingly long time. Even though it has not even been 2 months since I had surgery at this point, it has been over 4 and 1/2 years of struggles, waiting and wanting. It has been 8 months since I have been able to put weight on my foot due to the multiple foot ulcers that started last October. I have needed not only patience but determination and motivation to keep trying, pushing forward and not throwing in the towel. There were so many times that I thought to myself “That’s it I give up, none of this matters. Walking, running, hiking; it’s all overrated.” However, after a pity party or two, I would pick myself up and keep trying. Constantly motivated by wanting to be there in every way possible for Taylor. I wanted to show her that she can do anything she wants no matter what she’s up against. Having her see that I did not quit or give up even under some rough circumstances has been a driving factor and getting to where I am today.
Last weekend I exchanged a few messages with another left below knee amputee. We mostly discussed her phantom pain and discomfort while wearing her socket. She is five months post-op and still struggles with wearing her prosthesis for any period of time. The pain is too much. Hearing this broke my heart in so many ways. I cannot imagine how she feels. I do not know how/why she lost her limb, but that may possibly play a role in her recovery or pain level. It was wonderful to connect with someone who is still learning their new normal as well.
Later that evening I started to think about all the negative possible outcomes that I have not allowed my mind to think about. What if the pressure on Stumpy is too much? What if it is too painful to walk, run, dance, and jump? Or all the things that I had the surgery to be able to do? What if I cannot figure out a good fitting socket? What if…. the list goes on and on. I know these outcomes are out of my control and I will find out soon enough. This has not prevented me from losing too much sleep while thinking or worrying about it. Hopefully, my reality will be somewhere in the middle: discomfort that is tolerable with the potential to adjust to the new pressure points and weight.
As I was sitting outside of the prosthetist office waiting to go outside. All I could think was “Wish me luck!” Turns out I did not need luck. All in all, it was a wonderful visit! Trying on the socket the first time was extremely painful and I could not get it on. I started to feel panicky, anxious and sweat. After a minor adjustment to the socket, I was able to slide in and have the pin locked into place. One of the first things I noticed was the significant weight of the leg. The various spots with pressure and discomfort were noted and discussed. Two hours and a handful of adjustments later the socket was feeling a lot better. It was no longer painful, however, there were still places that were uncomfortable.
I was able to walk up and down between the parallel bars only having a light touch to secure my balance while lifting my good leg. This was such an accomplishment and it felt so good! The prosthetist told me that she was impressed with my tolerance of weight, my gait and the strength of my hip flexors. Apparently being diligent about all the exercises PT assigned me paid off! After seeing my gait and balance it was decided that we would order my foot. The foot on the test socket was a heavy, clunky, stable, loaner foot. It was meant to help me transition to a prosthesis. Since I demonstrated my ability to walk without watching my steps or feet and showed great muscle control it was decided that I would only use it for one week instead of three. I would have jumped for joy if I could have! My foot that is on its way is the AllPro by Fillauer. It is significantly lighter and has a lower profile. The best thing about it though is how it has flex and can return energy. This will allow me to run, jump and play! I cannot wait until it is delivered in a week!!
For the rest of the day, I had a stupid silly grin plastered to my face that would not disappear. I was feeling as light as a feather and making a list of all the things I would soon be able to do. At home, it was fun to talk about the process for fitting the socket. When showing Nick and Taylor my temporary leg it felt like Kindergarten all over again. I was doing show-n-tell and had the whole class’s attention! As we rode on all the excitement and adrenaline from my appointment I made sure to snap a few fun photos of our little family.
The next morning when I slide into the socket and got breakfast ready (coffee, eggs and toast) I felt as if I had won the lottery! I did a few short video calls to demonstrate my new moves. The next day I grabbed my cane and my husband and headed out the door. We strolled four houses down before turning around and heading back. A couple of neighbors waved and said sweet things. I was living on cloud nine. Little did I know that all would come to a halt very soon.
Yesterday, Monday, which is day 3 of having the temporary prosthetic I was distracted and made a careless mistake. After I took my leg off in the living room I needed to quickly grab something from my office for work. Instead of removing the gel liner like I am supposed to, I grabbed my walker and hustled down the hallway. I am not sure exactly what happened, but the walker tipped and I landed on my stump with the pin jamming into me.
So far, there is no bleeding or change in coloring. I also do not see any noticeable swelling. It was a little tender last night so I iced it. This morning when I put on the gel liner it was slightly more tender. When I slipped my leg into the socket the pressure radiated from the bottom of my tibia to the bottom front of my knee. I am currently unable to be bear weight on my limb at this point (even to use it as a ‘kickstand’ while sitting on the couch). Today I have done 2 red light sessions and iced a handful of times for 15-20 minutes each to reduce swelling and promote healing.
I am assuming that I won’t be able to put weight on it for the next few days. My plan is to try and get an x-ray if it does not show any signs of improvement. Although I did email my PT and prosthetist what happened with pictures just in case they want me to take another course of action. Pretty much I am just beating myself up inside for this stupid mistake that will cause a delay in moving forward. I am not going to push it and recognize it needs to heal so that I don’t screw it up more. My heart just breaks over this. Tears, ice and rest are my medicines of choice for now.