Monday, 2 December 2013

What no amputee should ever do...

So last week I had an accident that saw me in more pain than I ever want to be in again.  I'm aware some people read this who are new amputees or have an amputation coming up or are considering there options so I'll share this in the hope that no one who reads it will ever go through it themselves.  Although my prosthetist pointed out, every one falls, no one falls twice.  I'm gutted that I didn't prove the first bit wrong, I have every intention of keeping to the second part of that! 

So what happened. To explain that you need to know how I secure my prosthesis.  I have a thick silicon liner that goes directly onto my stump, this then fits snugly into the casing of the prosthetic (sometime with a sock or two to pad it out more.  I'm really lucky, in that my stump is an exceptionally good shape and so the prosthesis stays on really well just like that.  It means that around the house, or popping out of the car at a petrol station etc, it's quick and easy to stick the leg on and my thigh gets plenty of air.  If I want it really secure, I put a sleeve from the prosthesis, up over my knee and onto my thigh - two reasons why I wear shorts in this weather (legs well insulated and if I need to adjust the fit, trousers are a nightmare), so I'll add that security if I'm going out.   If the sleeve is on, nothing will get that leg off.  It can take my weight, literally! 

I don't generally think of taking the bins out as going out and this is wear the problem occurred.  Bins are down a single step.  Having been lounging around the house the leg was just secured by friction, but when I picked up the bin to lift it over the step, I wasn't expecting what followed. 

What I thought had happened was that I stubbed my toe on a paving slab, it happens occasionally when you cannot lift your toes, so I stumbled to recover my balance.  What had actually happened was different.  My fake toes had got caught on the step and the prosthesis had come off so when I went to recover my balance, what instead happened was I landed with all of my weight, plus the weight of the bin I was carrying, straight through the end of my stump.  It was honestly up there as one of the most excruciating experience I have ever been through.  On the verve of throwing up from pain, I concluded that since I was stuck outside, the leg had to go back on and I had to get on with it even though I had no idea whether the stump was even in one piece still - the liner of course was still on.  So leg went back on (ouch!!), and I picked the bin back up. I didn't take it out as it wasn't that full but for some reason standing it up seemed important.  

Because I was both angry and ashamed of myself for making such a stupid mistake, I was determined to make as little of it as possible so didn't say anything but instead stumbled and hopped to the kitchen, sorted Morgans hot water bottle out and went to say goodnight to her.  

By the time I'd said goodnight, I realised there was no way I could make it out of the bedroom on the leg so I hobbled to my side of the bed and took the leg off.  It was a great relief to discover I wasn't unleashing a blood bath and that the liner nad protected it really well.  As the liner came off, the stump swelled before my eyes which was slightly alarming and it was then that Morgan realised something was wrong.  I went into early stages of shock.  I was light headed, I and felt sick again.  I also found myself suffering from horrific phantom pain, along side the actual pain whilst all the muscles in the leg went into spasm.  For some reason I still felt like I could ride it out, and just self medicated on drugs to help phantom pain and drugs for real pain.  20 minutes later of uncontrollable pain and muscle spasm later and Morgan was phoning NHS direct for advice and we were off to a and e for morphines and x rays! 

I was exceptionally fortunate to not have caused serious damage and only to have soft tissue issues.  A huge dose of oramorph and a really good nights sleep meant I felt much better in the morning, although having triggered so much phantom pain I will be on medication for that for a while before I start lowering the dose to see if it's gone... It may be gone already, it may be something I've triggered forever but only time will tell.  Thankfully, even if I do have it forever, I know it is managed well with Meds.  Having experienced it at it's worse, my heart goes out for those who struggle with regular or constant phantom pain. 

After a week of rest, generally the stumps feeling much better, although I tried the blade on again today and discovered I'm still far to bruised and battered for that kind of strain on the stump.  A gym session that was meant to be an hour starting with a warm up on the treadmill became about a minute on the treadmill and then an eternity icing a stump before hobbling off home!  Incredibly frustrating but I will get there!  

So the message of the story, never fall on your stump!!!