Friday, July 17, 2009

[Almost] Walking Man

After the virgin blister episode, I have nearly healed and have been walking with crutches again. Looks like I had another smaller blister in the side of my leg, I attribute both of these from not being snug enough in my socket. I have been taking it easy this week to let the blistered skin heal without further irritation.

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I am concentrating on my walking form and Jennifer is helping with a side view. Larry taught me to consider the importance of gait length and speed. With the assistance on my crutches, I start by looking down to get my gait length correct; that is, an equal length step between my feet as I walk. The biggest trick I found was to lead with the right knee of my amp side, then move the foot out and under me while walking normally with the left foot. The other major consideration is to walk with equal speed between steps.

My prosthetic foot, like many, does not have an ankle motion - I cannot press the gas pedal down with heel to toe action. This translates to not as great a toe-off angle, particularly with me not at full weight bearing and walking without my crutches. The design of the Renegade does give some noticeable energy return to offset this visual difference. I can walk with a fairly normal gait while applying about 50%+ of my body weight on the prosthetic foot. While standing I can lean forward and put 100% of my weight on my socket with total comfort.

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On Thursday I attended the Otto Bock seminar that was held at HealthSouth and hosted by Floyd Brace. I had hoped to see the Harmony system (see pic at right) but I didn't know exactly what to expect. Although I didn't get to see the Harmony, I snagged a couple of DVDs for patient care and technical use of the system. We did get to see the C-Leg in action from a local amputee and by the presenter, Trent Bowers. Larry Wiley demonstrated the C-Leg software.

What I learned at this seminar was something I already knew but it keeps being reinforced: no matter what I think of my own condition, others have gone through far worse. It's not a matter of a morbid one-upmanship, it's a matter of life. And death.

Trent and his good friend along with some other people had gone to a concert. As more usual than not, there was alcohol involved. Afterward, Trent and his friend took an old and familiar route across some railroad tracks up to their apartment, and along the way both passed out on the rails. The train came. The first responders came. Two young men were changed forever.

Today Trent has a C-leg. He rides motorcycles and has a job he loves. He took a horrible situation, did not give up, and lives on.

Not very long after recovering, his friend went down to the railroads tracks and waited for a train. He faced it head-on in his suicide.

We all face choices in this life. Many are difficult. Some are horrible. And no one can tell you the answers. I've never thought anyone who questioned everything was smart.

What I've learned in my life is this: questions easy, answers hard.

Never quit.

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As I left the office on Friday, I was putting close to full body weight into my leg. It's another in many baby steps, though this one is more of a human being step.

Sometimes it's not easy to see the little victories, sometimes it is.

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On Saturday - after I slept for 10+ hours - Jennifer and I took Baxter on a short trip up to Mepkin Abbey. This might be my favorite place in the lowcountry. I never fail to find a sense of peace there, not unlike what you might feel in the solace of the mountain spires.

I walked with my crutches avoiding the longer staircases but confident on the smaller ones knowing I had grass for my pillow should I fall. We went to the water's
edge to find a bench but both were taken.
We took in the view of the Ashley River and walked back up the gardens. As we turned around I felt we were viewing a great impressionist masterpiece. So peaceful and beautiful. I did not have a camera with me but I placed the picture within.

Due to my past foot problems we (I) have not be able to take any of the tours of the grounds. This is something I am looking forward to, perhaps this fall.

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On Sunday we had dinner at my mom's with some family. I had been watching my diet all day in anticipation the food I grew up on...chicken, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, string beans, sweet tea, all of the major players including the unpalatable butter beans for moi.

Afterward mom, Jennifer and I went for a short walk, probably about a quarter of a mile. We spoke to neighbors coming and going on our short adventure, nice for me since I haven't been outside nearly as much as I use to be when I ran. I think of this as my first 'official' training walk since I have had my new foot.

It is my plan to walk every evening when I get off work with a goal of one mile by this weekend. I will be keeping a close watch in any hot spots that may develop into a rash or blister, but I also know these things will happen so I will have to exercise patience when they do.

But I think one mile is very doable, and if the skin cooperates adding a mile a week will be a longer term target. Sometimes I feel I should just throw the crutches down and walk. I must resist that temptation.

For now.
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(Note: Pics in this post were downloaded from Mepkin Abbey and Otto Bock's websites.)

3 comments:

  1. It is so amazing to read all this. I am in awe of your spirit.

    Ellen

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  2. Thanks for the support Ellen. It will help replace the crutches soon.

    - Richard

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  3. You go, guy! :)

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