Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Greetings from Elkhart!
Things at the Walden Inn are continuing to improve. We're currently working on plans for the second phase of our renovation, which will include the Food and Beverage areas and the Public Space. With so much going on I've decided that it's time for me to start easing back in. As of this week I'll be going in one day a week. It's exciting and a little scary. I've always been a very physical manager and I'm now going to have to adjust to the new physical limitations. However, while inspecting a room with the Executive Housekeeper (Christy) and the Chief Engineer (Scotty), I got down on the floor and looked underneath the couch and started pulling up cushions. The perspective was interesting but it took too much energy.
The Therapy session on Monday went well. A few weeks ago I was given a new pair of crutches. The kind that attach to my forearms. These give me more stability but they have been more awkward to work with when standing up from a chair. Well, I finally figured out how to stand up from a chair with them already attached. The first attempt at this was quite comical because Renee decided to hold my left crutch against the arm of the chair I was getting out of. All of a sudden I found myself standing mostly straight on the right side and completely unable to stand up on the left! Don't get mad at Renee though, she was trying to stabilize the chair and simply didn't realize where her hand was. After she moved her hand I was able to stand.
This may seem to be a small thing, but the more confident I become with standing and sitting on my own the more likely I am to practice walking at home, or other places. At this point the only places I have felt comfortable walking are therapy and home. Hopefully as my confidence builds I'll start appearing in public places. So, with that in mind, listen to the rest of the story from Monday.
At the end of my Therapy session Renee received a call from Sarah in the ARC. (Remember Sarah is the one who oversaw my torture before I was sent home for Christmas.) Sarah had a patient in the ARC that she wanted me to come talk to. He's Hispanic, and doesn't speak any english, so we had to use a translator but the conversation went very well. This young man lost his left leg and arm in an electrical accident. I've spoken with his parents previously but up until now he hadn't been ready to speak with me. His eyes lit up when I came into the room with my prostheses on. I was in the wheelchair but I could tell that he was excited to see my legs. We talked for a while and he asked me to show him how I walk.
So, I made the first attempt at getting up without Renee present. For the first time since the beginning of May I was able to get out of a chair and stand without any assistance at all. I'm still putting too much weight on my crutches, because my balance is still really far off (In fact, I now have Tendonitis (sp?) as a result), but I'm standing straighter and walking easier. When I have the new sockets that fit well I hope to see some pretty big leaps forward!
Speaking of big leaps forward...tomorrow...I swim...
Thursday, July 20, 2006
A busy day
Before we talk about today's therapy session I want to fill you in on the driving situation. On Tuesday I had my second training session, which lasted an hour. This time the trainer had me drive to some familiar places without giving me any direction. The point of this was to ensure that I wouldn't get the gas and brake confused as I wouldn't be thinking about it as much. I'm happy to report that there were no issues. In fact, the ten hours of training has been cut down to one more session on August first and then, the week after that, we will go to the BMV and get my license amended! Now, I still have to purchase a vehicle and get hand controls installed. This may take a little time but the point is that I'm one step closer to regaining my independence!
Now, I think I've mentioned that the new socket on the left leg fits pretty well. I may have also mentioned that I'm having some problems with blisters appearing at the end of that limb after extended periods of walking. If I haven't, then now you know. What was so confusing was that when I would put the prosthesis on I could feel the liner (silicone sleeve that goes over my leg inside the socket) sliding off my leg. This is what's been causing the blisters. Also, I can't feel the left prosthesis very well. The way I described it to Renee was that the right prosthesis feels like it's a real leg and the left feels like it's more of a ghost than the phantom pains/sensations that strike from time to time.
So, the Prosthetist drilled a hole in the bottom of the left socket to get a look at what's going on. What we discovered is that my leg isn't going all the way into the socket. This is why the leg didn't feel real and why the liner was sliding off. So, time to get another new socket. At the same time, my right leg has changed size since the first fitting and we now know that this has been causing some issues as well. Yep, you guessed it, time for a new socket on that one too! The upshot here is that this isn't going to slow me down. This is going to help me walk better.
Doctor Carbone saw me this morning as well, and it was the first time that she's seen me walk. She says that my gait is better than most Bilateral Above Knee Amputees (that's what I am). She also helped me figure out a way to stand straighter. Strange as it may sound, I have to use my gluts (butt muscles) to straighten my back. Just hearing that helped right away. I'm not standing perfectly straight yet, but it helped. I've got to continue to work on strengthening my gluts and abs, which is nothing new, to eventually be able to walk erect. Yes, right now I look like an ape man but the day will come when I can proudly walk tall among the rest of humanity!
By the way, my cousin Lila asked a while back about how Cleo (my cat) is adjusting to the new limbs. She doesn't seem too affected by it, although, if I have them on and she tries to knead my lap she encounters hard plastic instead of squishy flesh. Usually she just gives up and curls up next to me. The biggest adjustments Cleo has had to make have been sliding across the wood floor when she chases her toy mice and sharing the house with my roommate's dog Teaka (pronounced Cheeka). She loves the floor and has learned when to start her slide so her momentum won't carry her into a wall. She tolerates the dog but sometimes the the dog gets a solid smack in the head, accompanied by a hiss, if Cleo's not in the mood to deal with her.
The other day Jamie and I were on the deck, Cleo was laying on the steps, and Teaka was out in the yard doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing. Jamie scolded Teaka and, when she came running up onto the deck, Cleo (without getting up) reached out and smacked her on the ear as she passed by. We decided that Cleo knew that Teaka was in trouble and just wanted to put her two cents in. Teaka is very lucky that Cleo is de-clawed, otherwise we'd have to change Teaka's name to scarface.
Have a great week! I'll be visiting my god parents in Elkhart next Wed. through Sat. so I'll try to give you all an update on Tuesday evening. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the PICC line comes out on Saturday!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Hopefully what you got from that is that I walked about 400ft today, and that I'm sorry that I keep missing my Wednesday updates. The new socket seems to fit pretty well but I'm still having a hard time balancing. Before the surgery at the beginning of May, I had gotten to a point where I could at least stand for a short period without really holding on to anything. Two months off and I can barely stand up straight so my hope is that the balance issues will work themselves out as my back, abs, and gluts strengthen.
The good news is that the pain that I used to feel in my left leg when I had the prosthesis on is gone. I can walk, stand, or sit without any pain in my legs. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of pain in my back. We believe that this is due to muscle weakness brought on by the fact that I've spent so much time sitting. Also, until now, I haven't really been able to exercise since May 1st. Only time will tell if this is going to improve. I did learn this week that when I walk I'm expending 400% more energy that someone with natural legs. Wild huh?
Didn't get to drive last week because the trainer had to cancel but we're trying again tomorrow so, watch out northwest siders! Have a great week and I'll try to get this updated on time next week!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...
I made it out to the table and we all enjoyed a beautiful evening. It was the first cookout of the season for my house and, though I couldn't actually work the grill, I was able to contribute some things from the kitchen. I had to take my antibiotic infusions at the table in the yard so we wound up sitting out there until it got pretty dark. When I stood up to walk back in the house I couldn't find my balance. (I know what you're all thinking but, it had nothing to do with alcohol!) The only thing I can figure is that the combination of the darkness and the poor fit on the left leg prevented me from being able to walk. Yet, stubborn and pig headed, I still tried to make it around to the front of the house.
"Why was I trying to walk around to the front of the house?" you might ask. Well, the answer is that I still haven't figured out how to go up steps. As we were getting around to the front of the house both of my knees bent at the same time. I said a few choice words as I landed on my knees and then tipped over on my side. Mark and Jamie got me back in to the wheel chair and we headed in. Now that the first fall is out of the way and I have a new socket that fits well, on the left leg, we can start to move forward again.
Renee's orders are for me to walk my butt off before I see her again on Monday. Keep your eyes open cause you may see me out there. I'm not making any promises but I can tell you that I'm wearing the legs right now and there's no pain!
Well, I think that's enough rambling for this week. Hope everyone had a great Independence Day! Oh, and by the way, I start my drivers training tomorrow, so if you're driving on the northwest side between 11:00am and 12:30pm you might want to slow down and keep your eyes peeled for a car with a "student driver" sign. Chances are it'll be me!