Thursday, May 14, 2009

Left Footed Road Warrior

I had a very good week this week, with the only nuisance being the phantom pain that is something like a thorn in the lion's paw. Where is my mouse anyway...? I still have some small spots of blood on my stump shrinker, presently a couple on the right side of the incision. I don't think this is anything to be concerned about, there is no indication of infection. I think I may have banged it a little trying to negotiate the tight turn getting into the company bathroom. Tonight I washed it out and will check it for blood leaks tomorrow. Other than that the stump looks great, very smooth, an amazing reconstructed limb.

I experimented with different ways to get my abbreviated self from the comfort of the couch to the front seat of the Honda. Initially this involved a light plastic chair that I would leave in the Pilot; I would and take it out to sit in as I folded up the wheelchair and tossed it in the cargo area and then crutch around to the driver's seat. This is this gimp's final 2003 Honda Pilot entry procedure.
  1. Pick self up and place in wheelchair
  2. Wheel over to fireplace and get crutches
  3. Cruise into kitchen, obtain lunch from The Jen or forage in bowels of fridge for suitable provisions
  4. Back chair into pantry/laundry room to door out to garage.
  5. Open door, place crutches against wall, open overhead garage door from wall console
  6. Back out into garage over about 3" threshold drop. No Fear!
  7. Grab crutches, and roll out to Pilot, position self parallel to cargo door
  8. Open cargo door, place crutches on corner of bumper, hoist self onto bumper/cargo area
  9. Collapse wheelchair, pick up by rear handles and legrest and place in cargo area
  10. Tilt chair down while shoving it against back seat.
  11. Get self on crutches, close cargo door. Must be careful not to fall down and flounder about
  12. Crutch to driver's door, place self in seat, crutches in passenger seat.
  13. Place stump on console with pillow
  14. Place left foot on accelerator and hi ho it's off to work RB goes
My short dog rests on the console

I have to catch myself from trying to do some things too quickly. I really do not want to fall and delay my progress. I am banking my non-falls to withdraw once I try running again. It will be worth it then as I have a nice soft field for the fall from grace's verticality.

With little fanfare, on Monday I drove myself to work for the first time since my surgery. There are many small goals like this one that keep me focused on journey's end, which will be another beginning with a return to running. I did have one dilemma though...I do not have my temporary handicap placard. This means either I park in a handicap slot and then ask someone to move the SUV or find a suitable regular space and roll up to the handicap ramp.

I decide on the latter as I am fiercely independent (you other rare Americans are nodding, I hear the rattling of heads) and try to do for myself. It all works out, and I successfully arrive at my desk and begin my day "Yes...yes...what's my name? For....your logon? Uh, it's your first name. No problem, it is Monday after all." (Although not word-for-word, this conversation did happen once.)

I find afternoons are more difficult because I am usually in sleep deficit and the phantom pains are more prevalent; I find it hard to get my stump in a comfortable position. It seems to this IT dweeb (a.k.a. dumbass) that my phantom pain may be limited to unhappiness of the deep peroneal nerve. Should this not improve I can ask Dr. Ohlson what we can do to mitigate this single aggravation. It may just take time; I also think once I'm running again that this low-level pain will withdraw to the distance.

I slept very little Monday night and Tuesday seemed to go on forever. In hindsight I should have gone home at lunch but I have a couple of projects that need attention. A fatal error as it turns out.

Our good friend Nancy came by to visit Tuesday night, around here geeks bearing gifts are always welcome and when those gifts are pizza and beer, well, you find the answer to life is not 42. Nancy is a cyclist at heart, a runner when she needs to be, and a swimmer when she has to be. Her nickname is "Nance" for entirely honest reasons.

I had not had a pain pill since the previous evening so I thought it would be okay to enjoy a tasty Sam Adams specialty brew.

(f/x Homer)

Towards the last few swills I started feeling remarkably relaxed. My eyelids starting gaining weight faster than Oprah in a donut shop. Whatever the conversation was I nodded when I thought it was appropriate and mumbled a few words that I hoped would pass as subliminal brilliance.

When I woke up my limbs felt heavy (remember Oprah?) and I had that post-nap lethargy that only dead people excel at.

"Gone home."
"You fell asleep and were snoring. Baxter (canine cohort) was snoring. You two were snoring and Nancy left and went home."

I had looked forward to Nancy's visit yet her gracious co-host fell asleep and snored her home. I emailed Nancy the next day and she was very gracious in suppressing the snickers. She remains on the A-list and given the pizza and beer gifts, she goes A+.

On Wednesday, or so I remember it being Wednesday, who knows with this lackasleep disease at the helm, I had a trio of random acts of kindness applied to me.

As I was coming into the building the door was propped open with the ashtray post (for the smokers who must do the nasty outside). The door also has a heavy action and requires a little more umph to push open while watching the stump doesn't get smashed. I wheeled through and a woman from the front right office comes out and closes the door. Now I am not certain the door was open for me or if they had delivery or maybe the economy (that is, government created financial ruin) claimed another soul, but when that door closed I applied my newly born Reaganesque optimism and verbalized a thank you.

Later in the morning I got a call from my CP, Larry Wiley. I must admit I was beginning to think I wouldn't hear from him again until after my next doc visit, but here he was on the phone asking how I was and wanting to set up an appointment to see me next week. He mentions there is an upcoming event where I may be able to obtain a high end everyday leg...once I heard this the details went into the fuzz bowl; he has mentioned this might happen before but I've learned to live the old adage, hope for the best but plan for the worst. We will talk about this next week when I see him.

I learned Larry had been in Guate­mala...I did a little searching and found this article of a past visit:

I am neither Catholic nor do I attend church anymore, but I do recognize a good man by his actions and deeds and I am proud to have him helping me.

I have mentioned in the past how caring I've found the O&P community to be. When I got home Wednesday evening, I had a package waiting for me from the Limbs for Life Foundation. Among the items was the book "You're Not Alone," a collection of amputee stories, a DVD, and some information about the foundation. In addition, there was a tee shirt from their fund raising race, the Bricktown Blaze 5k. I donned it and felt a sudden burst of emotion. A race tee. I have not run a race for nearly two years and here I was wearing a race tee for an organization whose sole purpose is to provide "fully functional prosthetic care for individuals who cannot otherwise afford it and raising awareness of the challenges facing amputees."

I am hoping I can run their race one year, maybe 2010?

Quite a day, nothing I expected but it seemed a little like a Dickens Christmas novel, without the ghosts.

Maybe I should consider the hint.

Maybe I will.


  1. Quite a story about your prosthetic guy. Lucky you! It's all going to turn out magnificently! And in my defense, I didn't say Nance up and left because you (and Baxter) were snoring. We sat and talked a long time amidst the snores before she had to go. :)

  2. Yes, so far things are going swimmingly! :-) I am surprised you two could hear over the duo's a cappella performance.

  3. BAHAHAHA! I laughed out loud at the Oprah comment :-)