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Fiona Call

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About Fiona Call

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

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  • Membership Type:
    Amputee
  • Amputation Type:
    Right Leg Below Knee
  • Amputation Date:
    30.12.2004
  • Amputation Cause:
    Tsunami
  1. Hi Everyone - New here and dying to ask

    Hello, I realise that I am coming to this very late and apologise. I also really hope that Sue is having a better time at Cardiff than she did in Wrexham. I haven't used a limb centre in the UK for 3 years now as I've been living away in Asia but my observations are as follows: 1. The prosthetists in NHS limb centres, on the whole, whilst nice and helpful and everything that comes with that, just don't have enough experience to be really good at their jobs. The vast majority of prosthetists in the centre I used to go to appeared to be recent graduates who were getting their first few years of real life experience before moving off to new jobs with Ossur or wherever and more money. I completely understand this as the starting salary is crap at about GBP18,000 which, after 4 years of university, I certainly wouldn't be very enthusiastic about either. 2. This obviously means that they simply aren't going to be as good at their jobs as prosthetists with 20 years of experience. The world just doesn't work like that. 3. The right socket fit is of course crucial and is something that you just need to be very persistent about. If it doesn't fit right you have to tell the prosthetist and bloody well stay there for as long as it takes, then be willing to go back as many times after that as it takes. But sometimes you just don't have the energy for that. I used to live a 1.5 hour tube journey away from my limb centre and quite frankly often put up with a little niggle (or big niggle as the case might have been) instead of having to go through that whole awful rigmarole of travelling there, waiting around in some dingy fitting room while whoever else was there oohed and ahhed and compared who had which liner and why they didn't have one of what you had, spending hours and hours out of my working day trying to get the bloody niggle to go away by adjusting the socket with the prosthetist, getting to the stage where I didn't know whether anything had actually helped or not because I had lost all sense of what was right and wrong with my leg, and then spending another bloody 1.5 hours travelling home, only to realise often later on that same day that there was now something else wrong with the socket so I'd need to go back the next day and repeat the whole saga all over again. 4. So I can understand why and how Sue gave up. 5. But basically, everyone who works for the NHS in those limb centres (or certianly everyone I came across) really does want to help and really does want to get the leg right. And when it is right it really is worth the hassle. I still wear my second ever socket now and it took me and my prosthetist over 6 months to get it right. I'm going to feel like I've lost a child if I ever have to give it up. And in terms of all the high tech stuff, if you can convince them that you need it and will use it (and haven't gone over your quota of 3 legs or whatever it is - don't get my started on that), then they should strive to get them for you regardless of age. 6. Obviously this leads to the conundrum of if Sue hasn't been active for 5 years how is she going to convince them that she needs a leg for active people. But as far as that goes, she will probably have to spend a few months getting her fitness levels up anyway, so she probably doesn't need a really expensive high tech leg right now. For example, I am active and even though I'd say I'm really fit I am still struggling to get the most out of my running leg (which I had to pay for myself as the NHS including my PCT refused). 7. If you want cheap private prosthetic care come to Asia. I had my legs made in Hong Kong while I was living there for a fraction - and I mean a fraction - of what I'd have had to pay in England. And in Singapore where I am at the moment I go to a state of the art limb centre which is pretty much solely staffed with Western expat prosthetists and still pay much much less for my treatment than I would privately in England. Right, that's my ten cents. I really hope it goes well for Sue. Fi
  2. Holiday snaps

    Wineglass Bay! My husband and I were there in April. We flew to Adelaide, met up with friends, went to Mclaren Vale and did wine tasting, then watched the rugby 7s on the Sunday, and the on the Monday hired a car and spent the next three days driving to Melbourne which we loved - bothe the drive and Melbourne. I can totally see why people love Melbourne so much, Imust admit. sorry I am a lttle tipsy at the moment but you live in an amazing city cat. One of my friends from uni was getting maried in Melbourne so we went to the wedding which was on easter weekend then we flew to tassie. We hired a car and drove all around. It is incredibly beatiful is it not. Apart from Cradle mountain. It was bloody freezing there. We got there at minus 5 and the gas was broken in our cabin. or about 2 hours, which even lots of red wine did not help. But the next day we did the walk around the lake there and it was really lovely. Did you go to Strahan too? We did like tassie, but we also loved Melbourne. You are so so lucky to live there. Fi
  3. Any travel hints for a newbie?

    Hello, As I said, I don't usually use a leg for showering etc. But if it's a matter of getting into the sea and I need a leg I use a plastic one that I got on the NHS. They call it a 'water activity leg'. I go to the beach a lot and I couldn't get into the sea without it. Also, I used to use it a lot when I wasn't sure about the bathroom I had or just couldn't be bothered trying to stand on the one leg and swivel around to make sure things were ok. I would say on the whole that the 'water activity leg' is a good leg to have, but if you want a running leg or anything else like that then beware that the nhs will only give you 3 legs at the most. The running leg with socket etc is obviously more expensive than the water leg so if it will be a third leg for you then please think about what you would be willing to pay for and what you want the nhs to pay for. Fi
  4. Any travel hints for a newbie?

    Hi Dale, I am a BK amputee and I travel all the time - at the moment I am flying on average about once every 10 days (and yes I do feel suitably guilty about my carbon footprint). I remember my first travels with the leg and I remember being really anxious about it and especially about the different bathrooms in the hotel rooms. Since then I've probably stayed in every different kind of hotel room imaginable with every different type of bathroom imaginable and I've managed to shower in them all, even if I've looked very weird doing it. I don't bring anything extra with me when I travel, just myself and any legs I think I might need which vary depending on where I'm going and what I'm doing. Sometimes I check the legs into the hold and other times I carry them on - they have always made it when I've checked them in although one time I didn't check them in the airline lost our luggage so that was a very lucky chance decision at check in! Staff at check in are generally alright when you check the spare legs in although I have had a couple of rude ones - most recently telling me that they would allow strollers to be checked in for free but not prosthetic legs which I thought was amusing (they let the legs on in the end). Ossur sells leg bags and they are quite cheap - about 10GB pounds. I have two or three and they are really useful (especially when you have too much stuff to fit in your suitcase and need a bit of extra room for shoes or books or whatever...). To buy them I called an Ossur call centre in Holland I think it was - m prosthetist gave me the number so it might be an idea to ask yours about this. Hotel room bathroom wise, I don't have any waterproof cover for my leg and generally don't use my water leg because it is too much hassle to wash my actual stump afterwards when I'm wearing a leg. So what I do is step into the bath/ shower cubicle with the leg still on, take the leg off when I get in the shower, and then if it really is too dangerous to get out at the end by sitting on the edge of the bath and swivelling, or hopping out of the shower to the sink, I put the leg on again to get out of the shower by kind of stepping into it as I get out. Does that make sense? I realise that this is probably not the safest approach but after a while you do get quite good at assessing the safeness or not of the bathroom you are in, and nothing has ever happened to me by doing this in the 5 years that I have been doing it. Apart from that going away with the leg really is not too much hassle and is totally doable, and worth it for the sense of total independence and freedom that it gives you, trust me. I think you also asked about water legs in your post. I do have a "water activity leg" which I use when I'm at the beach and want to go swimming in the sea or if I'm on a boat trip or whatever, but I don't use it to shower in because of the extra hassle it causes with having to wash my stump separately from the rest of my body at the end of the shower - yes I'm v lazy! Right, good luck with it! Fi
  5. your input needed

    I've just come back from Australia and what I found they were really good at doing was signposting how long all of the walks we did would take - and how many kms/miles the walks were. I think that might really be useful in the UK because I'm sure that what must stop people doing walks etc is not knowing whether they are going to be able to get round the whole thing, especially if it's a circular walk because there's no turning back if you know what I mean. Good luck!
  6. a simple question ?

    Very good question Mick, Yes, walking does mean far far more to me now than it did before the amputation. Although I do think that I forget when things are going well just how bad it can be when the leg is hurting or what it was like when I was still going through the rehab process. And I do find it really interesting that my mind seems to work by totally forgetting how bad things can get when they're going well, and also how good they can get when they're going badly. As far as proper walking, hiking wise, goes, it means far far far more to me getting up (and normally more importantly and difficultly) down a mountain or whatever now than it ever used to before. And that is generally the case regardless of whether I'm having a good day or bad day with my leg. Your question is very well timed for me because at the moment I'm just coming out of a particularly bad bit of my life leg wise. In December last year I fell off my bike onto the bad side and broke my hip, which has basically taken me until now to get over. I had to have an operation on the hip and for a good couple of weeks after that had to go back to scratch, hopping around on crutches, not even able to put my leg on because my hip hurt too much. Even when I was able to wear the leg again and, with time, get rid of the crutches again, it has taken me a long time to regain the level of mobility I had before the accident. Added to that once I managed to get rid of the crutches I started having the worst cramps in my stump I have ever experienced. Which made it incredibly painful even to get off the sofa to make a cup of tea. They seem to have subsided now and the hip has stopped hurting but boy did it bring me back to this time 4 years ago.... And boy was it depressing. I had totally forgotten that feeling of dread I used to get when I thought about walking anywhere from A to B. How the only way to get used to walking so slowly and in such pain was to learn patience and to keep in your mind at all times that even if it took you 8 times as long as it would take someone with 2 legs to get there, you would eventually make it. How distances that I would have looked as as 5 minute strolls along the road when I was 2 legged suddenly started to feel like I was hiking over the Andes. And etc etc etc. The funny thing is though that I am recovering from the cramps and the hip now, and I'm already starting to forget again what a total nightmare it was when I broke my hip and just how incredibly relieved I was when things, especially the cramps, started getting better again. And I can almost see that in a year or so if no other disasters happen, I will have forgotten all over again just what it was like to be in that situation, and might all over again have started to take walking forgranted. Weird..... Fi
  7. Hi Johnny, As you're staying in Surrey you might want to go to Richmond which is a nice town by the Thames. It has alright shopping and some nice bars and restaurants down by the river, and Richmond Park which is beautiful. You can hire bikes and cycle around the park which can also be nice. Also, Windsor with Windsor Castle and its park will be near you. Also most definitely worth a trip. There is a great oldey worldy pub just by the entrance to the castle (sorry can't remember the name) which does great Mussels and Chips and a nice glass of wine.. In fact if you're feeling energetic you can actually cycle between Richmond and Windsor down the Thames - it is a fair journey but if you get nice weather v worth it. For routes look at Sustrans' website and buy the London-Oxford map (but it's all signposted regardless). F x
  8. NHS/Private. Any experience?

    Hi Allen, I got my running leg made privately at the same place I got my other NHS legs from. The socket was, if anything, a worse fit than the NHS legs and cost me 3,000 pounds. In the end I had to get the socket remade by my bloke in HK who charged me 150 quid for the best socket I have ever had. Go figure. In short I would say don't bother with the NHS private route but go to Dorset or somewhere if you really want to try it out. F
  9. Andes to Amazon

    Ann, In order to cycle properly with a prosthetic foot I need to make sure it won't fall off the pedal. I therefore use a toe clip on my prosthetic foot. It is too difficult to get the foot out of the toe clip when stopping for me to bother doing it so I always just put my good foot down to stop. Also, if your seat is at the correct height, when stopping it is necessary to do so on pointed toes. Obviously that's not going to happen with a prosthetic foot, and so for me it's necessary to put my good foot down first. Hope that makes sense. Fi
  10. Andes to Amazon

    Thank you for the good wishes. Have justgot back to the office today. It was the best trip I have ever had. The Andes are beautiful and it was totally amazing cycling up into the clouds and then down into the jungle. The cycling was v difficult though - esp the going down. I have never done proper mountain biking before but that was basically what it was. By the end of it we were all dreaming about smooth tarmac roads! I have managed to raise about 7.5K for the Cambodia Trust this time too which I am pretty chuffed about. We have all decided to do another one in two years time - from Hanoi to Saigon I think - so I will look forward to that. V guttingly I managed to lose my camera on the last day though, which means that I don't have any pictures to post. A couple of people from the ride said that they would send me theirs, and so when I get them I will try to post a few on here. F
  11. Andes to Amazon

    Hi All, Not sure if this is going to work but I'll give it a try anyway. Tomorrow I am off to Peru to cycle 350Km from Cusco to the Amazon Basin over the Andes. Whilst the overriding direction is down, there will be quite a lot of up as well, and it will all be done at altitudes going up to 4,300m at the highest point. I am doing it to raise money for The Cambodia Trust which has schools in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and East Timor and trains prosthetists and orthotists from conflict zones all over the world. Hong Kong's main English language newspaper, the South China Morning Post published an article about my ride last week. Hopefully I have managed successfully to attach it to this post. Any sponsorship would be most appreciated, both by me and by The Cambodia Trust. Best wishes, Fiona 20080903100142.pdf
  12. How on earth do you start!

    Hiya Steve, I'm RBK so it is probably quite a lot easier for me than it would be for you, but basically what you do is get yourself a bike with a toeclip on the left pedal (in your case). To start throw your left leg over the frame, secure the left foot into the toeclip (otherwise it will fall off the pedal while you are cycling along), and then push off on the right pedal with your right foot. You will be amazed at how easy it is once you give it a go. To stop you brake and then you just need to make sure that you tip the bike over onto the right hand side and put your right foot down. If you tip over onto the left you will fall over. Does that make sense? It really is quite easy once you get the hang of it. Having your right foot should help in the UK traffic because if you fall you will fall into the pavement and not onto the road ie. you will fall to the left which is the pavement side. Give it a try in a park maybe borrowing someone else's bike to begin with and see how it goes. Re: the actual cycling, it will probably be a bit more difficult for you than it is for me having my knee, but with decent gears you will be surprised at the steepness of the hills you can get up once you have the hang of the gears. I have loved getting into cycling as it's one of the few things I can do with one leg and not really feel disadvantaged doing - due mainly to the fact that you aren't really putting any pressure at all on your stump, and if your bad leg is feeling bad you can always do more work with the good one. Good luck. Fi
  13. The kit you want

    Hiya Caveman, It sounds like a good idea to me in principle but as someone who is relatively active and who the service would probably be aimed at, my main concern with it would be cost ie. what would it cost me? The main problem being that what I can do with my current set up whilst not perfect is pretty ok. I am never going to be an oscar pistorus - I'm not an athlete in any way shape or form - and so for me whilst I like being able to do stuff like cycling, running etc. what I have and what I can get from "normal" prosthetic will do for me, unless the improvements I can get are relatively cheap and easy. So I suppose what I'm saying is that if you could provide the service to people fairly cheaply then I can see that they might want to use it. On the other hand though, if it is pricey, then I think people would be somewhat less keen... Does that make sense? F x
  14. To amputate or not!

    Hi Madman, I didn't have the choice - it was my life or my leg. All the what ifs were difficult to deal with at first but in the long run I am glad that I had the amputation and didn't have to go through endless further operations to try to fix what would undoubtedly have always been broken really. The first year after the amputation is really really difficult. But it gets so much better after that. As a guideline, a year after the amputation I was walking, badly, with one stick, and was still getting taxis to work, and just about the only real exercise I was able to do was swimming. However, by the two year mark I was walking pretty normally any distances I wanted with no sticks, had got into cycling, and had just returned from a 500K bike ride from Saigon to Ang Kor Wat followed by a month of travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia. Three years after the amputation I was living in Hong Kong, had hiked up its second highest mountain, and had started to run again. And now, three and a half years afterwards I would say my life is the same if not better than it was before the amputation. I don't get phantom pains at all which makes a massive difference to my quality of life, and I haven't needed a new leg for a good year or two. Sometimes I get pain on the end of my tibia or on my fibula and that can be horrid, but it is always bearable and I can generally walk through it. I go to the gym three or 4 times a week and do everything if not more than I used to do before the amputation, and in September I am going on another bike ride over the Andes in Peru. I don't know if I would have been able to do any of that had I been able to keep my bashed up leg. And I dread to think of the pain I would have had to go through had I had the chance to save it. Madman I don't envy your choice and I really really feel for you. But in my opinion, if you really think that you would have to go through lots of pain and lots more operations to save a leg that will never work as well as it would have before, then I would say go for the amputation because if you have the determination to make it work for you with a prosthetic leg then it will be far far better than a painful real leg. Just my two pennies worth. Good luck with your choice. F x
  15. Hiya Keano, I have the same problem as you. My socket always haas to be angled quite a long way off centre to compensate for it. But after a few goes at the prosthetists they can generally manage to get it comfortable. Am not totally sure what exactly they do to get it to that stage but it can be pretty tricky I know - I always hear an audible groan when they see me walking in! F
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