Friday, October 9, 2009

Whispers of Jato

Thursday afternoon I visited a local hyperbaric medicine office and my CP, Larry Wiley. Both visits were good ones, although one is closer to my heart.

First, I visited Charleston Hyperbaric Medicine, which coincidentally is in the same building complex as Floyd Brace. I first read about hyperbaric chambers in Scott Rigsby's book "Unthinkable" where he states it helped him quickly recovered from injuries sustained in a marathon before his first Ironman. I believe planning for what you can anticipate is a good thing, and I wanted to see how this might help me in the future. I came away thinking this might be the most unknown, underestimated medical procedure in the US. I'd love to be able to do treatments as part of a preventative maintenance plan, and should the opportunity to test this theory present itself I would avail myself to it.

Dr. Peery's nurse's brother, Rob Devlin, is an SC Runner of the year in 1989 and 1990 and quite talented. It was a nice connection to know she would understand why a runner - and this amputee runner - would want to avoid any interruptions to training because of slow injury healing. The blood supply in my stump in obviously a little compromised and healing is slower. When I use to get an occasional blister on my anatomical feet, they would heal after about 5 days enough not to be a problem. When these blisters appear on my residual that time is nearly doubled. This would be a disaster if I developed a blister just prior to a goal race.

After this visit, I walked down to Floyd Brace from my afternoon appointment. Larry, my CP, worked on my existing socket a bit to ease the pressure while I had my blister and gave me a new gel liner to try. I talked to Ricky Miller, technician and fellow amputee, about itching (it is bad stuff) when the liner is removed, near accidents from not being able to feel that the foot is under a counter or desk, and the construction of his prosthesis.

I brought in my October 2009 issue of Runner's World to show Larry the article about Rick Ball so he could also see the suspension system he was wearing. Larry showed me a suspension belt that I will try later that will insure my leg stays put even when the liner is sweaty. We talked about running for a long time; Larry is currently working hard to get me a running foot and it is obvious to me he is enthused about the project. We talked about running shoes - I wear Nike Vomeros - and I think Larry is going to try a pair.

We talked about Ossur, Freedom Innovations, and Otto Bock running feet. I have no idea who may provide Larry with a foot, but I know it will be an extraordinary day when Jato arrives. I told Larry we'd have to celebrate that day with a dinner; he said we could go for a run. I know it's going to take a little work to adapt to the running foot and I am like a kid waiting on Santa...after having a gallon of coffee.

As I was driving home the full impact that my running foot is on the horizon hit me. The thought came to mind that this is what it felt like on the day I decided to have my amputation; only this felt good. Down to the core, inside the heart, deep down soul good.


Just got back from dropping Baxter, our pup, over to my mom's house so he can spend the week with her. I did not notice he was missing his collar until I got over there, so I had to run out and buy him another at a Bi-Lo grocery store. As I was looking over the meager selection there a man comes up to me and says, "Do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Sure go ahead."

"That is incredible!"

I am still wearing shorts for convenience, and he noticed how well I was walking with my prosthesis. He mentioned he had run the Cooper River Bridge Run a couple of years ago and saw some veterans with running prostheses. I told him I was hoping to get my leg soon but still had a little time to go with the leg changing shape. It really made me feel good, and I am glad he took the time to make my day.

Off to the treadmill! I've been running 2 miles in the morning and 2 in the evening, but I took yesterday off and had to get to work early this morning so I'm going to do 3 now. I plan to do two-a-days frequently, as it will be easier on my residual and I can still do decent mileage in preparation for my first races. Maybe I'll be able to run the entire 8k next month? If not that's fine, the longer I run the better, if not in distance then in time.

I did the three on the treadmill, it went very well although I was extremely tired before the run and wanted to sleep. I ran about 2.5 miles, walked 0.5 and was able to push the pace a little at the end. My leg felt great and I didn't have to stop to dump out the sweat even though I was wearing 10 plies of socks.


I think I have a good plan now for running enough miles to make for some real progress while avoiding another nasty blister. I don't think I am going to be able to do real speedwork until I get a running foot with a lightweight socket, but I do need to make steady progress with my mileage. Next stop, a 20-mile week. Once I hit 30 miles I should be ready to throw in some intervals and start making progress to getting back to where I use to be a few years ago.

Getting my running foot is going to be a huge milestone, as big as starting to run after surgery. I think at that point this new runner will be whole again.



  1. you are so inspiring Richard! i went to the Chicago Marathon yesterday and saw a guy with two prosthetics running with the 3:50(er so) group... wowza, wish you could have been there to see him too!

  2. Thanks Becca! You saw Richard Whitehead, he and Rick Ball are redefining what disabled athletes can accomplish.

  3. I just KNEW you'd know who he was! :-)