Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The Vacation...and After
The week in South Haven was great! We had a wonderful and relaxing time. Looking back it seems like we ate the majority of the time. South Haven has some great restaurants and, of course, wonderful ice cream! We didn't spend a lot of time on the beach because the weather was fairly gray with the occasional drizzle. However, we spent a lot of time together as a family visiting an apple orchard, vineyard, going to the movies, and looking around the town.
Madeline, Dad, and I went swimming at my hotel. When I tried to swim last year I was really only able to flounder around the pool a little bit. This year I was able to swim on my own and then hang onto a noodle float to rest. We even got into the hot tub!
I made it a point to use the wheelchair as little as possible. However, it did come in handy a couple of times. One day we gave up on the sun and decided to go to the beach anyway. Madeline and Dad fed the seagulls. When all the food was gone she told them they were done. When the seagulls didn't go away she told them she was serious! Since they didn't have beach wheelchairs, and I didn't want to risk getting sand in the joints of my legs I couldn't go on the beach, but I did walk the length of the pier to go out to the light house. The pictures above show the distance I walked.
That walk down the pier was the last great walk I took with the temporary prostheses. We came back from South Haven on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday morning I went to the Prosthetists office to get the C-Legs! Renee met me there to help me figure out how to use the new legs and make suggestions.
The legs work well. Mike, the Prosthetist, attached the right leg first and I got up and walked with that leg and the old one on my left side. The knee didn't want to bend on the first couple of steps but, as I moved it learned what I was doing and began to move freely. As I was walking it fed information to the computer through a bluetooth connection. After a few laps in the parallel bars it was pretty well programmed. Then Mike attached the left leg.
I repeated the process with the left leg, and then we worked on the process of sitting down. The knees are programmed to allow me to slowly lower into a chair instead of the rapid drop I used to have. We also worked on things like stepping down from one level to another. When I left I actually walked down the steps facing forward.
The legs have already dramatically increased my speed and the smooth flow of my gait. However, there are still many adjustments to be made. According to Mike we should have most of the adjustments made by the end of August. Some of these will be programming adjustments and some are simply learning adjustments on my part. For example, going down steps forward is still difficult because the knee has a tendency to bend too fast, hopefully this can be adjusted through programming. When I slow down the knees stiffen up to the point that I can't get my foot off the ground, this is actually something that I have to learn how to control.
Renee took pictures of the fitting/programming process. Be sure to scroll down below to see them. The pictures are in two separate posts so be sure to look at them both!
Getting the Right Leg
Getting the Left Leg
Friday, July 20, 2007
Jeremy and .... (drum roll please)
his lovely Physical Therapist, Renee! This picture was taken at the award ceremony that Jeremy wrote about in his 7/18 entry.
-- Colleen (Jeremy's cousin)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Unfortunately the Prosthetist got an update yesterday and the left foot is still on back order and they don't expect to get it in until after the 28th. So, I won't actually be getting them this week but, that's okay, as we are going to Michigan on Sunday for vacation and I really didn't want to try to learn how to use them without working with Renee first. This also means that I won't be doing the blog next week (due to the vacation). Hopefully the next time do an update I'll have the new legs and can tell you all about it!
The second big surprise was one that my family and friends have been keeping secret for some time. On Saturday night we went to the People's Burn Foundation Summer Ice Fund Raiser. There's a rumor out there that I didn't want to go. That's not true. I was looking forward to it, it just came at a very busy time and I was feeling the compression of too many events going on at once. It is true that I wasn't looking forward to getting dressed up.
I don't like wearing a tie anymore. When I have I've been very uncomfortable. During a conversation with Renee at the dinner I finally realized that the collar of a dress shirt with a tie reminds me of the stabilizing collar that was around my neck when I woke up in the hospital. However, I did look good.
It was a beautiful evening at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, with great food, great company, and great entertainment. After the dessert was served they had a presentation and gave out some awards. About half way through the awards presentation I started to wonder how my family had managed to get a table that was at the very front of the room. (granted we were all the way over on the side) Then it dawned on me that Dr. Sood, the burn doctor and plastic surgeon who took care of me in the Burn Unit, was sitting at the next table.
Eventually Dr. Sood was called up to the podium. The first words out of his mouth were "On October 22nd of 2005..." I believe there I reacted in a very visible way. Dr. Sood went on to tell the story of my injuries, surgeries, infections, and rehabilitation. He also spoke about me walking in for my last appointment, visiting with other patients, and the quest to raise money for the C-Legs. I was even more surprised when he announced that we would be selling cookbooks after the presentations, and that I would be signing them.
Dr. Sood awarded me with the Sushila Sood Champion of Courage Award. Dr. Sood chooses the recipient of this award. It's a tremendous honor, one that I'm not sure I deserve, as I don't view my recovery as courageous, I simply view it as living life. All the same, I'm very proud, and thankful to have this award.
After the ceremony we sold over 130 cookbooks. I signed cookbooks from about 9:30pm until about 11:30 pm. And yes, my hand was definitely tired, and my signature suffered, by the time I was done.
Cookbook featured in Indianapolis Star
This should lead you to an article about the cookbook. The title is Five In a Fix (just in case the link doesn't work). There are five recipes from the cookbook that have been printed and rated (quite highly I might add). Check it out-you might be one of the lucky ones who was published! There is also ordering information for the many of you who have requested more cookbooks.
Also-while you're looking at IndyStar.com you might want to enter People's Burn Foundation in the search box. That should lead you to an article about their Summer Ice event that was held this past weekend. As you read you will notice that our own Jeremy Warriner received the Champions of Courage award at the black-tie optional affair. He was surprised-and boy, was it a hard secret to keep for so long. I'll let him write about all the details as soon as his writer's cramp heals-he signed about 5 boxes of cookbooks after the award ceremony!
Friday, July 13, 2007
Links and a new picture
Click here to view the C-Walks (feet) info.
Click here to view the C-Legs info.
Also, someone requested more pictures, so I've added a new picture in the "Photos of Jeremy" section to the left. Pictured is Jeremy with his beloved niece, Madeline, taken in June at a family reunion.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
If I only had a knee...
While Elaine was talking she spoke about the surgeries, and how at the beginning the concern was about my feet. Of course, they quickly realized that, in addition to my feet my right leg would have to be amputated above the knee but, they tried to save as much of my left leg as possible. Initially they had saved my left knee but more tissue died and they had to go higher. It's ironic to me that my left stump is now a good two inches shorter than my right. (I don't use the term "stump" very often but it is the correct medical term. Early on I found it insulting because they are still my legs. Overtime I have grown more comfortable with the term; especially now that I have a set of detachable legs in addition to the residual ones.)
I remember not believing that I would ever be able to walk again, regardless of what the doctors were saying, the fact that I didn't have either knee was immaterial to me. It wasn't until I started walking with the prostheses that I began to realize how important that left knee would have been. It would have allowed me to stand up much easier. It would have given me the ability walk better and with more stability. Most likely I would have been able to walk with only one crutch, which would give me the freedom to use one hand for other things. I might have even been able to climb up and down steps going forward instead of side ways.
Of course, this is all speculation, which is why I don't dwell on it. There's no point in wasting energy wishing for what you don't, and won't have. A month or two ago I was walking into a gas station and noticed a person coming up behind me in the reflection in the door. I was wearing shorts, as I normally do, and stepped aside to let the other person open the door. As he approached I said "I think I'll let you get the door", and was surprised when he replied "yeah, I have one of those two". I turned to look at the man. He was probably in his mid to late fifties and was wearing a pair of long shorts. I didn't notice the below knee prosthetic he was wearing until he lifted the leg of his shorts. His prosthetic had a cosmetic covering on it to look more like a normal leg. (This is something I've opted against adding to my legs.)
He held the door for me and, as I was walking in, made the comment "this is hell for me but it looks like you've got it much worse." Once we were inside I told him that I'd like to have at least one knee but that I'd accepted that this is what life is like now. He went on to complain about how uncomfortable his prosthetic was and how much he hated it. I wouldn't necessarily describe mine as comfortable, but I have grown used to the way they feel and don't really think about it much. The man commented on my attitude and I told him that he should focus more on how lucky he is that he has a good leg and and two good knees.
As I paid for my gas the cashier put his elbows on the counter, leaned forward and, in a great impersonation of a bartender, said "how ya doin'?" I smiled and said "this is life now, and I'm living it, there's no point in looking back." He said "that's great" and gave me my change.
Hopefully the C-legs will give me the ability to walk with one crutch and regain the freedom of one hand. They'll definitely allow me to walk better, with increasing speeds, and with more stability. Sadly, I'll probably still have to go up and down stairs sideways, and I'll always have to do a balancing act when standing up, but that is a small price to pay for mobility. I'll be receiving the feet within the next few weeks.
The feet will actually give me some push off the ground when I'm walking, which will also allow me some increase in speed and they'll move much more like a natural foot as opposed to the ones I currently have. Renee says I should notice a difference immediately. If you're interested you should do a google search for otto+bock and click on "I'm Feeling Lucky". This will take you straight to the web page for the company that makes both the C-Legs, and the C-Walks (feet). Once you're there, do a search for C-Walk and that will bring up info, and a picture of the new foot. Unfortunately the feet must have cosmetic coverings to fill out a shoe. I'm disappointed by this. You'll see why when you actually see the foot.
While you're on the Otto Bock site you should also do a search for C-Leg so you can see the legs I'll be getting. I won't be getting cosmetic coverings for these. When you see the picture you'll understand why.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I will say this, I'm running out of ideas and could use some inspiration, so inspire me please. By the way, cookbook sales are going great, we just received another batch and I think it's almost sold out. Thanks so much for your support! Also, a special word of thanks to my cousin Beth Ann, who recently held a jewelry sale to raise more funds for the legs! (What's so special about this is that, when we were kids, she thought I was a mean little boy. I have no idea why, thank goodness she likes me now!)
Ok, bring on the comments!