Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waiting for Godot, uh, Jato

If you've been following my blog you know I knew the name of my future running blade (prosthetic running foot) long ago, the legendary Jato, even before my amputation surgery. As the story goes, Jato finds its master, it can neither be bought or sold.

This past Thursday, 4/11, I had an appointment at Floyd Brace. I always look forward to my appointments because usually it only means good things are going to happen. A new socket that will feel better, or a new sleeve that won't tear up every couple of weeks, or an extra liner that means I don't have to wear a wet one after my run. This day I did get a new socket but also the news I was finally getting my running blade (foot) soon, very soon.

At first Larry Wiley, my CP, mentioned a junior foot might be used due to the length of my residual limb. A junior foot is shorter than a full size foot and does not have as much energy return, so I was unhappy with this development. I did go through a number of conversations prior to my surgery to get my residual limb at the optimal length meaning I could have a long limb and wear the best running foot.

We finally got things worked out. Scott Rigsby, that huge-hearted Ironman, is sending me one of his Nitros to try. This is a full size foot that goes directly under the prosthesis and is an excellent running blade. Larry is ordering me an Otto Bock 1C2 C-Sprint foot at right, a terrific blade and one that attaches to the back of the socket, so clearance is not an issue.


On Valentine's Day Jennifer and I ran the first 3 miles of my long run  together, and then parted as she went to fetch Baxter for one more mile whereas I had 4 more to go, having done one warm-up mile on the treadmill. I could tell the new socket was not fitting nearly as well as the old one, which is not unusual except this one was not taken from a new casting but rather from the previous one. I noticed some discomfort behind my knee and just below the kneecap itself.

Socket fitting is not unlike a new brand of running shoes you try for the first time. Sometimes you find a problem right away and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for a hot spot to emerge that you wouldn't otherwise notice. In the amputee universe, usually this means a trip back to the prosthetist's office for adjustment(s) if socks can't easily be used to make the fit better.

I had to stop several times to monkey with my socks and could not maintain a comfortable fit, finally feeling a raw spot developing on my knee and deciding to quit before I bloodied myself. My long run of 8 miles was cut 3/4 mi short, but I had to do it or risk lengthy downtime. No thank you! My mileage for the week was 31, which is okay for now plus I am still having no trouble with the Achilles.


On Monday, 4/16, I was able to get back to Larry to have the new socket adjusted. After a couple of reheating/reshaping efforts it felt really good. Shortly after I returned to my office I got a call from Larry's assistant Anna, who said my running foot had arrived! I was so excited that I don't know if I was making any sense to her, but I gathered she understood why. Hope so anyway.

Larry then sent me the picture at left, but even in my exuberant state I noticed a poke in the eye: the foot did not look like the C-Sprint. I immediately compared it to the Otto Bock webpage and was nearly certain, unless it was the camera angle, that this foot was the Sprinter. 

So today, Tuesday, I had it confirmed Larry was sent the wrong foot and he's in the process of getting it exchanged for the correct one. I am hoping a C-Sprint will be in stock at my weight classification; if not I would think it will be next week before I am able to get it. We have a 5k race on 2/27 and I was hoping to be able to race with it then, but I will need some time to learn how to run properly with Jato as I've been told it will be "different." The main thing, I think, is to make sure I don't get lazy or lose my concentration and drop my knee in the swing phase, where I might drag the tip on the ground and then see the pavement approaching my nose at a high velocity. 


This is the last piece of my missing puzzle, the one thing that will allow me to run the best I can as an amputee. It will be worth the wait to get it right, and although I am disappointed they shipped the wrong foot, it is only going to be a few days difference. Disappointment would be never running again. I faced that, so I can be patient now.

Well let's just say I'm making a mighty effort.

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