Tuesday, June 30, 2009

11 Weeks - The Crippled Runner

I went to Dr. Ohlson on Monday and had an x-ray; he also did some debridement of the incision. As you can see I have one recessed small spot that is still healing, I think by next week it will be clear but might take another few weeks to totally close the slight depression.


On Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking to Scott Rigsby, who became the first double-amputee on prosthetics in the world to finish an Ironman distance triathlon at World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Scott was gracious to personally tell me his story and then talk to me about some of the specifics of amputee running. This is information I am hungry for, and as I move into running I will have to find what works for me.


On Tuesday I talked to my Larry, my CP, and we planned on Monday, July 6, to do the casting for my first prosthesis, and it would be ready on Tuesday for me to wear. However, on Wednesday at work I received a call that they could do the casting in the afternoon so I jumped on the opportunity to move up the process a day.

The casting process is fairly simple, I was given a liner over which a layer of saran wrap was applied and then the plaster was applied via rolls. The pic shows the liner, which Larry wants me to wear a couple of times for about 45 minutes to make sure I don't have any skin allergies to the material. Larry's dad was present for this, it was a pleasure to talk to him while Larry did the casting.

After the casting was removed from my leg, I made the appointment to get my first temporary leg on Monday. It will be a SACH foot, or Solid Ankle Cushioned Heel design. This will be used as I learn to walk again by having my weight distributed over each foot. I do not see myself using this foot for long and will be anxious to get a more active design.

I wore my liner back to work, and when I removed it my skin showed no indication of an allergic reaction, however my one healing spot on the incision had bled a little. It had only scabbed over from the previous debridement on Monday and the suction from the liner was not kind to it. I decided I would not use the liner until we returned from our trip to Missouri on Sunday to make sure this would not interfere with the healing.


I am writing this from Hannibal, Missouri. We flew here on AirTran, and the entire trip has gone without a hitch. This will be perhaps the only flight I will have made having to travel in the wheelchair. Since I do not have my foot, the wheelchair offers support for my leg where that is often not possible with crutches. While on the plane I had no support for my stump; this is mildly uncomfortable but for the connecting flight from Atlanta to St Louis it was tolerable.

Kudos to AirTran for taking good care of me, also the Charleston TSA's handling of me in the wheelchair was efficient and courteous.

Only one minor incident on the plane worth reporting: while deboarding in St. Louis a mother said to a child 'watch out for the cripple.' I was sitting with my crutches in my hand waiting for the aisle to clear, we weren't about to stand up.

"We're disabled. That's the currently politically correct word. Some people still call us handicapped. Almost no one uses the word cripple anymore."

- Dick Traum, "A Victory for Humanity"

Truly, the occasional stare or long glance or word(s) do not bother me. I can say with my old anatomical foot I was disabled/handicapped/crippled. With a modern prosthetic I will be a runner again. I suppose someone might call me a crippled runner without realizing the incredible irony of the statement.


On Thursday, July 9, I will be a minor participant in a Freedom Innovations seminar. I am not sure how much I can do at this point but I hope to see their Nitro running foot. As an active amputee, I will be looking for sponsorships to help defray the high costs of running prosthetics if possible. At my age, 56, and as master's runner I hope to be able to demonstrate that neither age nor lack of a foot is cause to change one's life for anything but the better. As long as we breathe we can aspire to great things, be it a walk around the block or an Ironman competition.


Tomorrow Jennifer, brother-in-law Gary, stepdaughter Becca, and son-in-law Chris Winn will be walking and running the Hannibal Cannibal, a race I look forward to doing every year. I was unable to travel to Hannibal last year after my first foot surgery, and this year I have a better excuse. Next year, however, I will be running it as long as we come back to Hannibal for Jen's family reunion. It is a difficult hilly race, and raceday is usually hot and humid on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. I last ran it in 2007 and managed to score some AG hardware.

I wonder what Mark Twain might have written about us runners were he alive today. I can't think of a single thing that might shock him more.

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