Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 29, 2011 - A Saturday

New socket delivered on Monday.  This one is V-Pin technology - that's vacuum pin.  Artistically, it is a success.  I will get a picture out here, maybe before the day is over as I have grandchildren around to take one, and new technology that makes it easy to get from there to here.  So far, I am not having any limb problems with this socket.  However, I don't think it will be as easy to do the reciprocal stair thing with it as it was with the suction socket that I had that had to go.  What I can do however, that I couldn't do before (before is with the last working socket) is the elliptical bike or walking machine or whatever it is.  Now I need to get back to the gym and get working on it. And I went to Chico's one day this week and tried on pants, something I was not willing to do with the "before" socket because it was sometimes a challenge to get it on.  The prosthetist talked about "the pin dance" - all the stepping around that sometimes happens to get the pin in the ratchet based socket into the ratchet.  I didn't want to be in a dressing room doing the pin dance.  This new one is an easy on job.

Life has been too busy otherwise, and I'm not sure why.  And it's gonna keep being busy until the middle of June.  My plan is to do what has to be done - to quilt in between - to get back to the gym in between and get back to work on my body.  The bout of pneumonia and the socket that "had to go" set me back a bit.  But spring is here, my garden is beautiful and I have an urge to go a local nursery and buy some plants.  (I've been looking at on-line nurseries, but I need to touch the darn plants.  So, I'm gonna stack up the rest of the papers spread out on my dining room table and take that nursery trip.

A haiku as I was getting the first new socket -

Some feet work better
Some feet don't work at all
I want feet that dance

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011

Measured for next socket this morning.  Instead of a cast, a computer image of my limb was generated.  Apparently that goes to a carving machine where a foam limb that matches mine is carved.  That foam is then used to create a plastic liner for the new socket.  This is done in Tempe Arizona as I am going with the V-Pin technology; it's newer technology; its being quality controlled by Hangar at the Tempe site for a while longer.  The liner is then sent back to Hangar here in Pittsburgh where a test socket is made using the liner as the model.  Next week I try on the liner and the test socket.  If it fits, that is then used as the basis for building the actual socket.  In this technology, the plastic liner has the V-Pin in it - the pin that causes the vacuum to form in the socket once its on.  I'll let you know how it works in a couple of weeks.  And now, I have to make a new cover for the socket so I have it ready next week when the final socket building takes place.  I'm working with very light fabrics, not my metier.  I'll figure this out.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

The scoop on the limb and the prosthesis - new prosthesis did not fit exactly right.  Space between the bottom of the liner (which fits tightly on the limb) and the bottom of the socket.  Thus, this great technology which is supposed to pretty much a vacuum around the limb, left a vacuum space between the bottom of the limb and the bottom of the socket.  The bottom of my limb (distal surface) was  constantly sucked down by the vacuum pressure, but couldn't really go down, because the bottom was too far away (2cm).  Anyway, I returned to the old socket for now, and will be re measured for a new socket this coming Tuesday.  This time, instead of a casting, Hangar (the prosthetic makers) will use computer imaging of my leg - which they believe to be more exact.  And I am going to move on to the next newest technology - something called a V-pin - that's vacuum pin.  More descriptions of this in the future.  For me, it is aesthetically more pleasing than the suction system that I just parted with.  The suction system had a neoprene sleeve over much of the outside of the socket so you couldn't see the art.  I also believe there is more positive contact between the bottom of the limb and the bottom of the socket.

That's the story for now.  Still have a bit more healing to do but I haven't gotten any infections in the wounded area - and that's critical.  Will have a new socket in about two weeks.  Pneumonia is about all gone.  A couple of more days of limb healing and I hope to get back to the gym.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, April 11. 2011

So - here's the scoop.  I am sitting at home in my wheelchair - I'm not in State College - and I'm not bounding around on the new leg.  I was bounding around on it yesterday.  Walked dog, Rags, up to "The Square" for his every three month grooming appointment and walked back.  Took myself to church.  Picked up Rags on way home (in car) and chatted with some neighbors as I was driving down our alley.  My son was at my house working on the gate for the new fence he is working on to keep Moose from leaving home when I'm gone.  He hadn't seen the new leg and was most impressed with my gait.  And I was becoming more impressed with it too.  Also was practicing the stair thing and getting better and better at it.  So we sat down in the yard and I took the leg off to show him how it worked.  When I took the gel liner off, we both looked at the limb and went "oh-oh - trouble"  Bottom of limb was covered with blisters, some of them popping.

Wheelchair was in the house as I had used it to move 50 pound bag of dog food from car to house. James moved dog food from chair, I got in chair, and I'm here for a couple of days.  Will use leg to go up and down stairs - for bed time and urgent requirements until this heals.  And no one at the prosthetist place on Sunday and no one in the rehab doc office.  And what would they do anyway.  So, I got prosthetist early this morning and went in for them to take a look.  Got to let limb heal before we can really figure out what is going on.  Limb is too swollen with this insult to go all the way into the prosthesis.  I am going to the prosthetic clinic on Wednesday and we'll see what comes of that.  Mostly I think I just have to wait a bit.  Good news, less good news.

On a different note, I was not planning on being home this week, so I took the opportunity today to sort piles of papers.  Filled a recycle bag with unneeded current papers.  It would be good to go through some of the older ones, and maybe tomorrow, I will take on a pile tucked in a less visible space.  I do want to sew - and I am going to shut this down and go make a couple of quilt blocks right now.  Think I will watch the news at the same time.  I am so disappointed with the state of our nation and the state of the world that I have turned off - not the right thing to do.  So I'll do the right thing and turn on CNN and see what Wolf is reporting for a bit.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011 = a Saturday

Compared to yesterday, this will be a brief post.  My goal for the day was to finish my tax returns.  I used TurboTax and had started the tax process before I went on vacation.  All done; all submitted; now I have to come up with some money for the feds by April 18.  I can do this.

And because I finished my work mid-afternoon - I took myself to the movies and saw The Lincoln Lawyer.  I liked the book.  The movie was pretty darn true to the book.  I liked the movie!

About the new leg..... I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday for sure.  I walk different with it.  I can feel the heel-toe movement in the foot.  Couldn't feel that with the other leg.  And didn't have it for many years before that with the fused ankle.  Also have a little more movement in the knee.  All of this makes walking feel a bit strange.  I am using a couple of different muscles in my upper thigh - maybe even in my belly to do this this walking thing.  It is most interesting, but I feel somewhat unstable.

There is a special clinic at Hangar prosthetics in Pittsburgh this coming week.  Hangar is/are the folks who make my prosthetic.  They are having one of their super-prosthetists visiting and reviewing clients with prosthetics.  I am supposed to be in State College, but I think I will come back to Pgh on Wednesday so I can be part of this clinic.  I'm going to call them Monday morning and see if I can still get scheduled.  I want to know that this thing and I will become much friendlier with each other.

And that's my brief update.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011

It's almost a year since my right leg was amputated.  And today, I got my third socket. It's a different kind of socket, and I'm not quite comfortable with it.  The last beauty was held on the limb by a pin and ratchet system.  This socket is held on the limb by suction.  Air goes out the bottom of the socket when you pop your limb into it.  Then, a hearty sleeve is pulled over a large part of the socket and up high on the thigh.   Now, limb from thigh down is encased like a sausage, sort of like being vacuum packed.  (There is a more sophisticated system where vacuum packing is really used, and that is likely to be next).  I think I will call the doc and see if I can't get some PT so that I really master this.  I want to be able to go down stairs reciprocally.  I think this socket will support that, but I need some help figuring out how to do it and then practicing that.

In terms of beauty, I had made another covering for this socket - and I will get some pictures of it and put them out here (I think I can figure that out) as well as on my facebook page.  I am not as pleased with this socket as art as I am with the first one.  Maybe, it's because the big black sleeve covers a large part of the socket, and maybe it's because I didn't put enough colors in it.  What I learned it that once the covering (tattoo in prosthetic terms) is fitted to the socket, resin is poured over all.  The resin has deepened/darkened the colors of the tattoo - and because it wasn't as multi-colored to start with, it is less interesting,  This is another learning experience.

I was away last week with my Santa Fe Women (SFW) friends.  We stayed at a place on Marco Island, Florida.  Did some walking, took a boat ride in the Everglades, but the really exciting thing for me was a kayaking trip on an inland bayou.  It had been a few years since I thought I could get in and out of a kayak.  We were in open top kayaks, and with a little help, I was able to get in and out.  Getting in and out  did mean walking in the water with the prosthetic foot, and the foot filled with water during the walk.    It was very heavy on the way back to the hotel.  Then I took off the leg and dumped, not realizing how much water there really was in it.  Quite a bit, it turns out.  Prosthetist said that fresh water probably won't hurt the foot (there are mechanical parts in it that move and shake as I walk), but if I was in salt water, I for sure needed it cleaned out.  Anyway prosthetist, Sam, cleaned it up this morning as part of the whole "new leg" business, so I am good to go there.  I am NOT going to white water, but I am looking forward to more float trips.

Among my SFW friends, I am the most unreasonable eater.  A couple of them (much smaller than me to start with) are currently doing Weight Watchers  (WW) - with great success - and a couple have done it in the past.  So, my friends really encouraged me to more rational eating and I went to a WW meeting this week with one of them.  Hopefully, this puts me back on a sane food plan and I can begin again, to work on removing those excess pounds.

I went off to Florida in the early recovery stages from a bout of walking pneumonia.  I am almost done with it.  I am heading to State College to work next week, and when I come home, I am planning to be fully recovered from the pneumonia so that I can go back to the gym.

And now I am off to an fiber art show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  I have a friend with a most interesting quilt hanging in the show and I want to be there with her when the show opens.  Time to spiff up and go.