Monday, 2 December 2013
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Monday, 19 August 2013
|ohhh new leg|
|bit of biking|
|getting out with the pooch|
|this was fun!|
|me and my incredible wife!|
|bumped into Jonnie Peacock, came over all star struck...|
I think so!
|little bit sore|
Monday, 29 July 2013
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
It's now been a whole week since I was discharged from roehampton and it's been an interesting week of learning about how to live with this new prosthesis and I've made various observations.
1 - walking is hard
Whilst the progress I've made is incredible, walking is undeniably still a hard thing to do. I'm pleased to say that my balance is good, walking will become easier (and is becoming easier - slowly but surely, I just have to remind myself of this fact), but with a five week old stump that is still a bit bruised and battered. It will get better but it will take time.
2 - my right foot is MASSIVE!
We discovered this whilst in Cotswolds. I've been told with no doubt that I must keep the fake foot dry and so I thought I'd buy myself some decent boots that would help me to do just this! Whilst there my feet were measured by Steve (not sure he's measured a prosthetic foot before), but we discovered there is quite a difference in size. Not ideal!!
During my outpatients appointment I suggested we just amputate the toes on the prosthetic but instead a new foot has been ordered. Hopefully I'll get it in the next week or so!
3 - my assumptions regarding socks were wrong...
I joked pre op that I would get through considerably less socks. Turns out I was wrong! I am currently wearing one sock on my biological foot which is pretty standard, but Im also wearing two thick socks, one thin sock and a think half sock on my stump, all of which is pretty standard by this time of Day! It's a lot of socks to deal with... Getting the number of socks on the stump correct is a real and constant challenge. its the key to getting a comfortable prosthesis And tiny adjustments make a huge difference. Learning to get this right is tricky, but I'm getting there!
4 - you have to make the physio happen!
It would be so incredibly easy to just stop the Physio/rehab activities when you get home after something like this. I can walk a bit with sticks, I can get about (I'm back to driving - thank you DVLA) and so I literally have to remind myself what my goals are and what I hope to achieve! By doing so I force myself to get up, to go to the gym, to do laps of the house or garden, just to keep moving forwards. As part of that progress today I challenged myself to walk all the way around the park (I'd taken poppy for a run around) with just one stick. I was pleased with how it went but won't be getting rid of the stick for distances like that for quite a while.
And so there we go - progress continues and however slow it may feel, in reality I'm moving pretty quickly.
Tuesday, 4 June 2013
|Scary outdoor steps!|
|Tricky outdoor slope|
|Id say this is overkill as a sign!|
|The scary and dangerous rehab garden...|
|I even got myself on a bike without pain - happy days!|
Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Tuesdays physio consisted of the usual mix of ppam aid time (dull but important), core/balance work and core/balance work whilst paired up with Jude (another patient). I also found out I wouldn't receive my limb until Wednesday afternoon, maybe Thursday morning - gutted. By the time physio was all done, Morgan and her folks were nearly up here. Once they'd arrived we bunked out of the Hospital and headed out for dinner, a key part of keeping me sane is getting out of the Hospital on a regular basis... If I'm in too long my brain totally discombobulates!!
|new leg - happy days!|
|Sooo many laps of the bars!|
Thursday, 23 May 2013
|Kneeling on a Swiss ball|
Flipping hard work!
Also been challenged into various activities with a guy called Jude, a patient with a through knee amputation who I'm getting to know quite well. Challenges together included the likes of playing catch balancing on Swiss balls or kneeling on wobble cushions, or sitting back to back on wobble cushions and passing med balls to each other etc, all of which is happening in addition to all the other stuff!
|The inside of the negative|
|and the outside...|
The plan is for me to have a moderate activity foot as my initial limb, which will have considerably more ankle articulation than a standard first prosthesis which, once mastered should allow me to walk over considerably less even ground be pretty active and mobile. Once I'm settled into life they will give me my second limb which will have a high activity foot on it all ready for me to start climbing mountains, getting around properly uneven terrain and so on. I'll also be having my limbs attached to my using a less traditional first limb system. A standard first limb seems to be to use an effective belt to strap it above the knee. Its great for simplicity but not good for high activity as its will cause a rubbing above the knee, so instead we are looking at over securing options such as a suction liner or something similar to keep the limb on which will allow a much better level of activity. Happy days!! Amazingly, having been casted today, I should be getting to try my first limb for the first time by Wednesday of next week. I'm extremely excited as I'm sure you can imagine.
I've also just taken my last Oxycontin (hopefully), which is good news as its an extremely strong opium based drug which is really addictive so I have been eager to not be on it. Hopefully the transaction to not needing it will go smoothly and I wont suffer as a result of it finishing. Despite this I have upped the drugs to aid phantom pain, not because I am in any unbelievable amounts of pain but because it would be good to have none, especially in these early days when it is a more common problem. Its good to be clear, if I always had this level or pain, it would be a shame, but it would still be better than the ankle pain I used to have, and because of the nature of phantom pain, firstly its likely it will settle with time, its still very fresh after all, and secondly, in my experience so far, using the leg (in the Ppam aid/on balls etc) seems to make pain less, not more and so it would not limit my activity like my previous ankle pain.
In other news, Morgan continues to come up each day with different companions (family and friends), to visit which is amazing. I've barely spent any time in the hospital where I've not been in phyiso, in the gym or in bed. Pretty much any period of time I have been breaking out of the hospital to fine somewhere else to eat or something, anything to do that isn't being in hospital. This place is, I'm more sure each day, the best place to be at this stage of amputee life, but its still so so good to get out, be with people who aren't patients and do non hospital things! Its also great to see the love and support she is getting at home with people keeping her company at home, staying the night (massive thanks to Oliver in particular here, he basically moved in), people from church delivering food so she doesnt have to cook, friends and family helping with dog walking and so on. A massive thank you to everyone who has been such a massive help, and a massive thanks as well for the prayer support we've been getting, both me for a fast rehab and for morgan dealing with everything as well! It means a lot to us both!
As for now, its time to attempt to sleep on a 6 bed bay (a challenge in itself), before a busy morning of physio prior to a long weekend at home!! Don't you just love a good bank holiday!
|A good looking wound with|
half the stitches out!
Monday, 20 May 2013
|A great looking stump by all accounts|
|Strap weights to work the stump|
|Ppam aid assault course|
Sunday, 19 May 2013
On Friday, I had two goals; one - to get home for the weekend, two - to make progress in the ppam aid!
I knew that on a Friday the day starts with a "game session" in the rehab gym as a fun, end of the week treat! I totally understood why this is a good idea in terms of moral etc but I was a little concerned that it meant my first goal might be unreachable as the afternoon physio session was balance class, a core circuit training session. Much to my relief, the game session was just the first hour (or half hour as the Ward were not entirely on the ball with the drug rounds so no one was there on time).
It was quite fun having a game of Wheelchair badminton though I had to continuously remind myself to curb my competitive impulses to make sure I let my teammates get involved. This became all the more important when I came unbelievably close to hitting someone in the head with the racket when going for a shot, thankfully he didn't notice, the physios on the other hand winced!
So from half 9 until 12 I was in the ppam aid practicing getting some weight through the leg. The goal was get walking outside of the parallel bars. Goal complete! After a lap in the parallel bars my physio got the crutches for me to practice in the bars. I did a lap, and then kept going. I was satisfying to be out on crutches wandering around the gym and as time went on I upped the anti and started doing a step, slalom and rough terrain. In many ways, it feels so incredibly natural to be up walking and in many ways it feel so wrong because the foot isn't there. It's all going to take some getting used to, although an actual prosthesis should feel more natural as I'll be able to bend my knee!
So goal one, to get home! Now roehampton aim to get people home for weekends as its good for the psychological side of rehab, it's beneficial for discovering what life skills you might need help to relearn and nothing happens in hospital at the weekend anyway so I was all set to be going home on my first weekend. However, dispite the above, the blanket rule on your first weekend there, so soon after surgery, is no way - you don't go home. The issue is that the wound is fresh and still held together with stitches. My consultant made it very clear, if you fall over, it will split open - how grim would that be! It took a lot of
pursuasion and some slight exaggerations on the wheelchair accessibility of the house for them to be persuaded but ultimately, they relented. I think they read between the lines and realised what I was really saying was "I AM going home, but I'd rather do it with your blessing than without!"
As I told them, if I go home I'll be chilling out with Morgan, if I stay in Hospital I'll get bored and think of stupid things to do or go and explore the area in my chair...
They gave me a few rules which I've (pretty much) kept to!
So physio was done by 2:30, I was in the car with Morgan and Mark (Morgan's dad) by 3 and heading home!
Weekend at home has been absolute bliss!! We've done very little but my little family (me, Morgan and Poppy dog) were fully reunited! Poppy was both outrageously excited to see me and a somewhat perplexed by the Wheelchair but it's crazy how pleased I was to see her. Week and a half away from the pooch was far to long! Also had the pleasure of having some good friends around for a Chinese on Saturday night which was great. The rubbish bit of going home for the weekend is the knowledge that tonight I travel back to the Hospital where I'll stay for another week but that's most of a day away so we are ignoring it at the moment! Instead, I'm just snuggled up on the sofa with my wife who's the best - happy days!
In other news I'm trying to move off the oxycontin, dropped down to 10mg twice daily. Stump pain, generally good though its a little tender. Phantom pain is very weird when it happens! Like having an electric shock put through your foot (which no longer exists)! At times it can be extremely painful. It's interesting though, if I'm busy it won't happen, if I'm in the ppam aid or doing physio, nothing! If I'm not doing anything is when it's likely to play up. It's as though when I'm using the leg in some way I con my brain into thinking nothing happened. Phantom pain is really common in the early days after amputation and for most people it settles down over time. It's encouraging that I don't get pain when the leg is being used though, definitely a promising sign.
Final thought - blog is really long. I must be more concise! Sorry if you got bored...
Friday, 17 May 2013
So on Wednesday, exactly one week after surgery I moved to roehampton, with the help of Morgan, her Brother Oliver and his girlfriend Sammi!
It was nice to get in the landy for the journey even if I wasn't allowed to drive it - come on DVLA, get back to me and clear me to drive left footed!!
I was sad to say goodbye to Parkside. Having a room to myself was a treat which I am already missing - the only person I'm eager to share a room with is Morgan and so 5 blokes (all, I think over twice my age), in my space is simply not the same! I'll also miss the food. Parkside is a private hospital, an expense worth incurring to get the surgeon Mr Ward who, along with being keen to be filmed, by all accounts is renowned for being incredibly good man to have chop your leg off, without NHS waits enduring pain and limitations. I'll also miss the food at Parkside. Here at roehampton, back under the care of
the NHS (which, for the record never ceases to blow me away!), is a little more basic food for the masses...
In reality, I digress given the food I eat and the sleeping arrangements are of no importance or interest to anyone bar me! The biggest issue is that not only am I in a WiFi free zone but signal is something which simply doesn't exist on the ward so I am connectable everytime I go outside/to the entrance foyer of the hospital so don't expect quick responses to texts/calls/tweets/messages/comments...
So having made it here to Roehampton around half twelve as previous planned we had the odd moment of turning up to the bed which was due to be mine and discovering the man who had the bed before me hadn't actually left yet so we dumped my stuff and made a subtle retreat to find some food! I didn't feel it was my place to boot the guy out, or put him under pressure - thatd be all kinds of awkward!
So Wednesday in all honesty, very little happened. I briefly met Abby, my physio who told me where to go Thursday morning where we would get started. Beyond that I answered lots of questions so that the nurse could check their records were correct and to be honest that was about it beyond getting to meet some of the other patients!
Thursday morning and rehab began with a being in the gym by half nine having had breakfast, a shower and set myself up for the day! It was good to get started with some core exercises, leg (what's left - my short leg as Morgan calls it as a nicer term than stump), and hip exercises as an aim to help to prepare my body for the stresses of prosthetic limb wearing when the time comes. Having spent the last year or two making improving my core strength and fitness one of my top priorities, it was satisfying to really make my physio scratch her head to try to find ways to think of exercises that would challenge me! It was satisfying that in the end, she was giving me exercises which I could do but with a lot of effort which I then challenged her to try and she really struggled - not bad for a bloke with a titanium crammed spine!
I'm really aware of how lucky (don't believe in luck but you know what I mean), I am. If your going to loose a leg, being otherwise fit and well, and knowing in advance that it will happen allowing you to put in huge amounts of prep work makes a huge difference to the rehab process (so far at least)!
Part way through the morning I was pulled out of the gym to have the wound examined (new hospital, they like to check these things). Having taken the dressing off, the nurses response looking at it was "Mr ward really is the best!" I concluded from that that it was all looking good so happy days on that front. Because it was all neat, clean, not oozing, or wet I'm now just covered by a standard glorified plaster dressings just to keep it clean. Following that I was presented with my stump (or little leg) compression sock. Basically it's a snug fitting tight that compresses the stump to limit swelling and help mould it into the best possible shape. That's right, I wear tights and will forever - get over it. Any time I am not sleeping, or wearing a prosthesis, my stump sock sill be donned. As Morgan kindly pointed out, it looks very sexy - I imagine she was being totally genuine at the time! I've avoided getting any ladders so far so Im doing well.
After a busy morning it was lunch back on the Ward, followed by Morgan and Milla (friend from Carroty wood days) arriving which was lovely and at about half two I made a move back to the gym for some more physio. Because the wound was looking good, I was given the chance to get myself up on my foot in the ppam aid. The ppam aid is like an inflatable prosthesis which covers your whole leg and allows you to partially weight bare. It's part of the training process and it helps with swelling, desensitization, and to practice getting on your feet to some degree. Because it covers your full leg you have no knee movement so it's an odd movement but it's good to be on your feet. For my first go I was just working within the parallel bars but I was amazed at how well it went with various laps of the bars done just on the first go. It's fair to say it hurt a bit but less than in was anticipating given the bruising and the wound! In theory, when I next get in the ppam aid I'll be using crutches as apposed to the bars!
Following physio, Morgan, Milla and I made a break from the hospital and had a little run away to be anywhere that wasnt a Hospital. We headed up the road not knowing where we were heading and ended up in Barnes where we had a wonder (they walked, I wheeled) before going out for a meal. It was really nice to get some freedom and some non hospital food with company of my wife and our friend. Upon return to the Hospital they left for home and I went to the gym, blagged myself an induction there and then, had a workout which felt extremely refreshing before attempting some degree of uni work... Progress is being made, I'm not sure it's my best work but itll do!
As Friday morning roles around its looking all set for another day of phsyio. Accoreding to my timetable (which gets written up on a whiteboard above my bed each day for the following day), I'm expected in the gym from 8:30 til 14:30 with an hour and fithteen break for lunch at midday! Hopefully it will prove productive and beneficial.
Stump continues to do well. Pain well managed by the drugs although I do need to keep weaning myself off the oxycontin as its opiot based and extremely addictive apparently. Phantom sensation remains a very regular thing pretty much all the time but not really bothering me... Phantom pain springs up occasionally here and there as a sharp shock, generally if the little legs been still too long. If I get it moving/gently message the stump it settles down pretty well on the whole!
It's incredibly weird being here and going through another rehab process! In many ways it's incredibly similar to the Stoke Mandeville set up which in some ways is good because it gives me the advantge of knowing roughly what to expect and so on, but at the same time its hard work for morgan and myself. Theres that real sense of you know what, we've done this before and don't have any desire to do it again.
Ultimately though, it's what we are doing so we may as well do it well. One of the inpatients was talking about what seemed to be the average stay for an impatient and how well they could walk when they left. It was interesting to listen to his views but in my head I was just thinking stuff that, there is going to be nothing average about my stay! I WILL either progress stupidly fast and be discharged much faster than average or I'll stay an average amount of time and be discharged with mobility levels that are unheard of upon standard discharge! Hopefully both of those things! I have come to the conclusion average people get average results and so I refuse to be average!