Hello dear friends and followers! It may seem as if I have simply dropped off the face of the earth (or internet) as of late. In reality my new leg has been quite a journey for me and one full of ups and downs!
Back in July I received my newest leg which costs over $53,000 causing my husband and I to no longer look at my wedding band as “bling”. Yes, in my opinion this leg should be sparkling from a mile away! But while it doesn’t blind any with its light it certainly does possess the latest technology for hip-disarticulate amputees including a Helix Hip Joint and Pile (pronounce Pill-A) microprocessor knee. The foot is altogether another beast that is apparently the most lightweight available. So if you haven’t seen me sprint by you yet at lightning speed all I can say is “Get ready.”
Re-adjusting to different materials and three new joints (hip, knee, ankle) has not been an easy process. The first week I could walk but not even sit down with my new toy because of the pain it caused sitting. The first time I put the leg on in the doctor’s office my prosthetist told me to “have a seat”. Not knowing how to operate the new joints I tried to explain that if I sat the leg wouldn’t work properly. He kept repeating and assuring me that I was thinking too much and that if I just sat my leg would follow. At this point I “just sat” and with him standing directly in front of me my new leg flew straight up missing his groin by a centimeter (and by the terrified look on his face that measurement is an exaggeration). From that point forward we both agreed to more adjustments and a little more space between us during practice times.
The second week I could do a little sitting but mostly only walk and stand. It was then that we headed to a picnic with some friends. As I walked around the party with my beautiful dress I headed over to the picture table and realized something had just fell out of the bottom of my dress. As I looked down to find a white pad about 2×5 on the ground, I quietly cursed whichever leg mechanic forgot to secure that in there because in front of me were the two repulsed faces of young men labeling me as gross! I mean let’s be real, what conclusion would you have come to? (Yes, even being a Christian I have my moments of foulness when I can thank God for His righteousness because I sure am not holy!) Of course all I could do was pick up my “pad”, smile, and dash for my husband’s side in embarrassment knowing that any explanation at that point would simply bury me but if they just saw me by my husband’s side they would somehow know I wasn’t totally repulsive to everyone!
Meanwhile the warranty is still covering the leg and I have made sure to test every last thing possible. When taking a walk downhill at my parents their new puppy barreled up behind me and knocked both feet out from under me causing me to land hard on my new $24,000 Pile knee. (Pile is pronounced Pill-A – though when I spell it out I can only see Pile as in a huge pile of money being spent on a very little piece of equipment!) Since then my doctor is wondering why I walk funny and have a hard time trusting my leg when going downhill and I’m not so sure yet how to explain that a trauma inducing two month old adorable black ball of fur is to blame. I’ve gardened, fell down, abandoned the leg, covered it in sand, gotten it wet, dug in the dirt, jumped off of the porch, and sat in the rain just to be sure that it truly can handle the wear and tear of the gorilla I imagine it advertises for.
The last few weeks have been a slow process of removing more and more of the “bucket” that attaches the leg to me in order to make the leg more lightweight, cooler, and comfortable. This has also been a trying process as every week that I bring the leg home I then have to figure out how to “do life” with this new piece of equipment all over again. As of today, I am far from finished. There is a motion analysis in my future, more tests, and more adjustments yet to come. And I wonder why I have been so tired lately at the end of each day?
One thing is for sure, technology doesn’t stop for adjustment periods. I just was informed last week that there is a new socket (the part that attaches to my body) available for hip disarticulates that looks like a bikini. It has been nicknamed the “bikini leg” since it attaches as such. The prospect of the weightless attachment is so exciting I eagerly asked for a bikini fitting from my doctor only to receive a raised eyebrow and an awkward moment of silence. Ah, the realities of leg life!
According to “Edge” magazine only 1-2% of amputees are hip disarticulate and of that only 25% choose to wear their prosthesis at all. So as I continue pioneering with my doctor (John Horne) what it looks like to make a hip-disarticulate leg comfortable and durable to wear as many hours as I choose and for all sorts of activities I expect to be tired and fatigued and frustrated as I have been this past month.
In my exhaustion I have been forced to isolate myself from people and activities that I have simply not had the capacity beyond my own struggles to partake in. It has been during the past lonely month that I have learned to pray scripture into my life when words have not been present and my soul groans under the stress and pressure I am facing. Psalm 71 has been one chapter that I have prayed over and again during this time.
“For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” Psalm 71:5-9
Sometimes when I walk my leg starts to feel very heavy and I feel like I am dragging it behind me. I notice when this happens I try to visualize myself walking free and fast. When visualizing still doesn’t give me the boost I need I have learned to get out my little hand pump and check the PSI (like a tire) that is in my knee because anything less than 85 PSI in my knee makes me feel like I am being sluggish. (Here’s another great visual of me traumatizing folks by flipping my foot around in public at a 180 Degree angle and pumping air into it!)
Visualizing the answer to my prayers for peace, patience, and wisdom from heaven is biblical. Unlike in my physical situation where using my own strength to visualize a leg that isn’t there doesn’t work; when we visualize and believe to receive help from the Holy Spirit our Father promises to grant that to us.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
Because of the price tag on this leg I try not to “cast it” to Jesus, But I do cast my cares to Him and celebrate each day and each humorous moment because who knows what tomorrow will bring? Each day has had enough for me to face.
Blessings to each of you and thank you for being followers of this blog and of my journey!