Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Future at Louisville Metro

So progress has been slow but I suppose any progress is better than regress right? Anyway. I'm starting to seriously question my ability to return to work by the end of August. I'm nearly off the cane now. I'm able to walk for longer distances without the cane, but now the major obstacle is endurance. I was informed by the physical therapist that as an above knee amputee I burn about 90% more energy just walking than a non amputee. This means that if Kate and I walk a mile together, by energy use, I have walked 2 miles for her 1. This has proven to be quite the obstacle to overcome. I'm just scared that I won't have the strength and endurance to return to the truck by the time I have allotted. This doesn't mean that my career as a paramedic is at an end, just possibly my career at LMEMS may be at an end if I can't make that date. I have made the decision not to dwell on where I will return to though, I just have to concentrate on getting healthy enough to do the job I am meant to do. No matter where I am performing that role at, it has to be on my body's time and not the timetable laid out by an outside agency. It would do no good for me to return to work and then have to quit because I pushed myself too hard. I refuse to start and have to bow out because I rushed myself.

I really hope to return to my LMEMS family. I miss all of you and I am the paramedic I am because of the great people I have had the blessings to work with at this organization. In Louisville you come across all types of emergencies from geriatric to pediatric, from gun shots to acute MI, and everything in between. This agency is my home and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to cut my teeth at such a wonderful place and dearly hope I can make this deadline. Yet, after losing sleep over pushing myself to get to this goal that has been set, I have decided that I will no longer stress over where I will return to. I have been blessed by several choices of where to return to and I know that LMEMS is at the top of my list, but I will go where I am able to perform my duties, but not hurt myself or my family. I have till the end of August to make this decision final. I will listen to my abilities and make decisions with my family, that is the only way this can work and I am sure God will lead me where I am supposed to be.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Insomnia and another late night update

I've been having a major issue over the past few months. I have not been able to sleep more than a few hours at a time. The hardest part is that during the night I am completely unable to sleep at all. I've been told that this is an effect of the traumatic brain injury I received during my fall. I didn't have any bleeds, but I did have a significant concussion with a coup counter coup injury. I hate this. The hardest part is I miss being able to stay in bed and have that comfort of having Kate next to me. My nightly routine now is to stay in bed with her, I scratch her head until she drifts off into that peaceful bliss then I relocate out to the living room. I'm tired but sleep just won't come. I don't know what else to do. I'm going to go see my doc next week, since I've spent so much time in the hospital over the past year I'm quite weary of going to any appointments, but it seems I don't have much of a choice now.

Since I'm up and writing tonight I guess I'll give you all an update on how things are going on the journey back to the ambulance. Hilbert, the new physical therapist and above knee amputee as well, has identified two major issues that are keeping me walking on the cane. First and easiest to fix is that my core/hip muscles just aren't strong enough to stabilize me as I come over the foot on the prosthetic side. This has resulted in an involuntary bending towards the unaffected side. It's annoying and luckily an easy fix. Just have to do a few exercises to strengthen the muscles and that should go away. Second, is learning to adapt my gait so that once that lean is gone I walk normal again. My goal is it to be indistinguishable when I'm in uniform that I am an amputee.

Another interesting fact I've learned today is that as an above knee amputee when doing activities that include walking or running I will use approximately 90% more energy to do the same task. As an example if Kate and I go walking when she has walked one mile, energy wise I will have walked nearly 2 miles. This will make it a bit easier for me to lose this poundage I have added over the past year of being inactive, but also shows me yet another obstacle I will face in trying to return to work. It feels sometimes that it will never get back to normal, or even feel normal again. I have good days and bad, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels until I can get this cane out of my life and just be able to get up and go. I refuse to let this beat me, but for the first time I'm wondering if my goal of returning to the ambulance in August was a bit too ambitious. I suppose only time will tell.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of the Flexible Socket from Kentucky Prosthetics

I've had my new flexible socket for a few days now, so I thought I'd write a small review of the pros and cons. I know that a few out there in the amputee community read this blog and I have gotten several questions about the new equipment. So here goes...

First, the positives: This socket is extremely comfortable. It is a flexible, yet sturdy, silicone type liner. It's thicker than silicone, I'm not sure the name of the actual material. The support structure is a carbon fiber frame with trusses that absorb the weight. The back of the socket is open, so it relieves much of the pain associated with sitting and getting in and out of cars. When I'm wearing the leg the socket feels much more like my actual leg, well prior to the amputation. The material actual flexes and gives with the muscle contractions while I'm walking. I feel like wearing this leg for 12+ hours will not be an issue and it has cut down on the fatigue I felt while wearing the traditional carbon fiber socket.

Cons: The biggest con I have for the new flexible socket is that it takes some time to get used to the new feelings. I can't really call this a "con" but more of an adjustment period. With the flexible material it is sometimes more difficult to have proprioception (knowing where your limbs are in space). Other than that I am thrilled with the outcome and look forward to wearing the prosthetic more.

Tomorrow I'll be trying out the socket at the gym and physical therapy so I'll really get a feel for how it handles direction changes and wearing it under stress.

Also, I have had many questions about where I go for my prosthetic care. My prosthesists are at Kentucky Prosthetics in Louisville, Ky. I cannot speak highly enough about the wonderful care I get here. They have went above and beyond in my care, from fixing any issues that may arise (even on weekends and past business hours), to making several sockets over the past 3 months, to dealing with my many many questions. They have always gone above and beyond to make sure I not only have what I need, but to make sure that all things are working as they should.

Back                                                                                                  Side

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Socket!

New Socket is finally ready. Had my final fitting today. My prosthesist Matt wanted me to correct myself as well. This is NOT a "Comfort Flex Socket" that name is owned by Hanger Prosthetic Company, This is the Kentucky Prosthetic Flexible Socket...I stand corrected. I can't wait to get this put on my knee tomorrow, I'm very excited, it is extremely comfortable and will allow my leg to start building muscle, and the open back makes sitting much more comfortable and it will stop that pinching that has plagued me for the past few months. Couple this with the ongoing workouts and I'll be off of the cane and onto the truck in no time. I feel like things are progressing quickly now and my new physical therapist has set goals for me to be running soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Amputee Boot Camp Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my first full on work out at amputee boot camp. I went a few days ago to get the layout and do a few exercises. What surprised me the most was that I can do leg press with the prosthetic on. For a person who used to leg press weight that would equate to a small car, I could only do 50 pounds with this leg, and let me tell you, 50 pounds never felt so heavy, yet so good. I was happy to be back in the weight room and I am really excited to get started on my real workouts. Hilbert (the new physical therapist) has told me that he wants me running again, and after a few weeks to a month I'm hoping to take my first strides without the cane and run on my leg for the first time. I can't wait,  I know I'm going to be sore and hurt for awhile as I get used to working out again.

On another note, my socket will not be ready until this weekend, it takes longer for them to set the silicone socket due to my huge legs...I have huge legs, I really always have, goes back to lifting weights from high school. Oh well. I'll write tomorrow night to let you know how it went.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I want to be better than I was

This time last year I was just getting home from the hospital. I was lost, confused, and most of all angry. Now don't get me wrong, I was thankful to be alive, but couldn't help but be angry at the situation I was in. I felt like I would never be able to function properly again. How right I was, and surprisingly enough, I was completely wrong as well. With the hand I had been dealt, I was not going to be able to function. I was left with a knee that didn't work and a foot that just dragged along. Hard to do anything with that equipment. So, I chose to change my cards, shuffle up and try another hand. This hasn't been easy by any means. I have learned a lot though, I now know what a 10/10 on a pain scale is, I know that falling doesn't equal failure, and most importantly I've learned that with adversity comes a chance to be even greater. I'm not there yet, not sure I'll ever get there, but I'm gonna fight like Hell to be better than I was. I start this work hardening program tomorrow. I have my goals and my new physical therapist knows them as well. I'm blessed to be training with another amputee, one who has been through the same struggles I have and is out on the other side. I guess he's the Virgil to my Dante as he guides me through the 9 circles of Hell. Good news is, he knows the path out on the other side. I have set the goal to not only get back to walking, but to lose 30 pounds, build some muscle, and not just live but have a life. I'd lost that along the way, but life has a way of showing you what's really important. It's not being alive, as I stressed so much before, but it's in actually living the life you've been given. Sure, I had to learn the hard way, but maybe, just maybe, someone else won't have to fight these battles because I have. So here we are, I'm still on my journey to get back to my new normal, but I've decided I don't want to get back to where I was...I want to be better than I was before.