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Calling All Amputees: Information, Please

Jan Chait

February 22, 2011

Vacations are good, but it’s always great to be back home where things are comfortable and familiar. Some lessons learned on vacation have made things back home even more comfortable.

Take my favorite chair, for example. Since the below-the-knee amputation of my left leg in November, I’ve been able to get into the chair just fine. Getting out, however, was a different matter and often had me panting and sweating before I managed to get my tush back on the scooter seat. As a result, I’d avoided snuggling into the chair and put up with sitting in an uncomfortable scooter or dining room chair.

But after managing to hop, heel-and-toe, and do whatever else it took to get from a scooter into a vehicle bench to take a “safari ride” through the jungle in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Florida, I figured if I could do that, I could get out of that chair. And so I can. Quite easily, too, I might add. I guess I hadn’t realized how much upper-body strength I’ve gained: One hand on my scooter seat, one on my chair arm, a little assist from my right leg and up I go.

Now I need some information from any of you who have had a leg amputated. What is the “discomfort” level on learning to walk with a prosthesis? I was told it would be “uncomfortable” at first. What I’m experiencing is pain — and I have a high pain threshold — and that’s lots of pain, along with swelling and bruising.

I did run into another person with a prosthetic leg on the cruise and talked to him a bit. He’d lost his leg several years ago in a farm accident. What he told me was that he experienced about two months of pain before he developed the necessary calluses.

But what is his pain threshold? What is pain to him may just be discomfort to me. And he doesn’t have diabetes. How do I reconcile having diabetes and the need to avoid traumas to my skin to the need to develop the toughness to endure wearing a prosthesis?

Maybe the prosthesis needs readjusting. I do have an appointment with the prosthetist today and will ask him about that. My therapist seemed to indicate that what I was experiencing was more than expected.

I do want to stand up and I want to walk. This may sound crazy, but if I can just stand up to get dressed, I’ll be happy. If you don’t believe me, you try getting dressed without standing to pull up your undies, pants, or skirt. Or getting yourself readjusted after going potty.

So, seriously, if you’ve been through an amputation and adjusting to a prosthetic leg, please let me know what I’m facing. I can put up with most things if I know what to expect.

As far as the diabetes went, it was OK. I’ve been on enough cruises that I don’t go overboard on all of the food. As usual, right when I needed my continuous glucose monitor the most, it decided not to work, but I don’t believe I went too far out of range very often. I was over 300 once when I checked but, for the most part, was between 80 and 140.

Now that I’m back home, I’m battling lows again. So here we go with adjustments. Again.

At least one thing about diabetes is constant: It’s never boring.



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