Friday, September 25, 2009

Never Quit

This has been a good week so far with a minor problem. I jogged/walked 3.25, 3, and 4 miles the past three days on the beloved yet ailing treadmill. The machine is about 8 years old and it will cost about half its value to repair, so I think buying a new one would be a better plan.

I did the 4 miles on Wednesday; it felt great and I wanted to do 5, but upon inspection of my stump I could see a blister forming on the distal end of the tibial crest as well as two tiny ones below the incision line. These are bad things for an amputee, and for an athlete it spells S-T-O-P. The problem has been one I've had since my first prosthetic leg, likely caused by the fitting process which undergoes more revision now as my leg is experiencing a somewhat drastic change.

Other amputees made it abundantly clear to me that fit would be extraordinarily important as the smallest abrasion could rapidly turn to a bleeding sore, resulting in days if not weeks of downtime. I don't know how much I will be able to callus my skin here but I doubt enough to make this an insignificant problem. It will have to be managed by fit, by a proper suspension system, skin care, and some common sense on my part to know when to say enough. As runners, we would rarely let a blister cause us any missed training; for an amputee it is a problem than simply can't be bulled through without significant consequences.


The other major problem I am battling is sweat in the prosthesis. I knew this was going to be a challenge from before the amputation and now I am in the war trenches. I have been trying to get in contact with Rick Ball, the Canadian world leading time amputee marathoner, to see how he manages this time wrecker. From pics I see he has what appears to be a bottle attached to his thigh and I wonder if he is able to remove the perspiration through a pump or capillary action. I can deal with a small amount of sweat in my liner, but it is difficult for me to do more than 2 miles on the treadmill in cool, dry conditions before I have to remove (doff) my prosthesis, dry everything out, then don it again. This is unacceptable and I have to find a way to mitigate this aggravation.

I am using a more powerful antiperspirant, Certain-Dri, which allows me to go the 2 miles instead of one between drying sessions. I've also been told to check out a special liner called the Silver Sheath Liner found here that I intend to ask my CP about. I really don't know why this problem exists today other than research has not really addressed it with the same exuberance provided to foot design. It's not a sexy subject but one that still deserves some passionate attention.


I am going to see my CP Larry Wiley this afternoon to get a new socket fitted and to discuss the above items. Likely I will get another plastic socket as my leg is losing volume on a consistent basis, so getting a definitive leg is still a future event. I have a list of questions to be answered, like when does he think I will get a carbon fiber socket and, of course, a running specific foot (blade). So it's a bit like Christmas going to the prosthetist now, this amputee's life is full of such ironies.


IF the blister has healed sufficiently, I still plan to do my one continuous mile run at the new town track tomorrow with my wife Jennifer. This will the milestone goal of becoming a runner again, not unlike when I was a kid and made that first run around the block, to be able to say, "I am a runner." As a child, I did understand what I was doing but it was impossible to know the significance it would have on my life. Who knows, maybe I won't fully understand it this time either.

I do know this; few people get a second chance to lose what they love to have it back. I never, ever, took my running for granted and often thought how I would feel if I could not have this part of what is me. I have been though the fire, I have gone the extra mile.

I did not quit, Glenn.

I never will.

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