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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum

kam

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About kam

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  • Location
    Sydney, Australia

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  • Membership Type:
    Limb Difference/Birth
  • Amputation Type:
    Right leg BK
  • Amputation Cause:
    congenital / amniotic bands
  1. I haven't posted here for, um, years :) . Anyway, I moved to Seattle earlier this year and the hills are making walking difficult. I also have gradually been wearing my "good" leg into the ground, and have developed some knee arthritis due to overuse. I'm looking for a prosthesis that will work better on hills and stairs (ideally). I'm currently using a Flexfoot (Tallux? can't remember). I spoke with a prosthetist today who is recommending I look at the new Kinterra from Freedom Innovations. I'm wondering if I should be considering the Propio foot or similar. I would probably have to battle my insurance to get the Propio covered, though. I have a meeting with the prosthetist later this week (if anyone has recommendations, good or bad, for prosthesists in Seattle, please let me know!). Cheers, K
  2. kam

    Taxes - What Happened!

    Actually, the politicians have been around for a while. They even existed in the 1950s. The 1950s were a time of great prosperity for those countries that had not been bombed flat in WWII, though, no argument there! The thing that really bothers me now is that with the way the global corporations shift their tax liabilities around to the lowest bidder, governments are left with putting more tax burden on individuals - and of course the very rich are doing exactly the same "shopping for tax benefits" as the global corporations do. Which leaves it up to those of us in the vanishing middle class to fund what needs to be funded (hospitals, schools, roads, etc). No answer here, but I don't want to see anyone reduced to begging on street corners for money to buy a prosthesis (trying to tie this conversation back to the topic, somehow...). K
  3. kam

    when "good" legs go bad

    Thanks Ann, Yes, it's pretty frustrating. I tried hydrotherapy for a month earlier this year, trying to strengthen my left knee but only ended up aggravating it further (though it could have been the land-based physiotherary I was prescribed at the same time). A rehab hospital is not a place I've ever spent time in, so it was a bit confronting. I tend to be in and out pretty quickly when getting a prosthesis made at APC, so I'm familiar with the walking rails etc, but it's just not part of my self-image. I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't change who I am, it is just something I am doing for a result. I'm seeing an exercise physiologist later this week and am hoping she can suggest some activities I can do at a gym again. I try to swim once or twice a week. I'm finding motivation difficult due to knee pain, and my job is fairly sedentary so I can just work and ignore the leg (oh so tempting). I tried a gym 2 years ago but dropped it because the personal trainer had no idea how to help someone my age with arthritis (she had me doing leg presses with heavier and heavier weights, when I would have been better off with more reps on a lighter weight). The gym meant I ended up needing arthroscopic surgery on my left knee a year ago. I'm going to get my prosthesis reviewed at a clinic next week and perhaps get a new one prescribed, to make sure it's the best it can be. It's been 6 years I think since I was last at the clinic. As long as my right leg hangs in there I'll use crutches with the prosthesis when my left knee isn't happy. I'm worried about what my husband and kids would think if I needed to use a wheelchair. When walking distances on rough ground, I use one or two hiking / trekking poles, which help. If it's good enough for perfectly able-bodied Europeans, it's good enough for me (bushwalkers / hikers in Australia don't tend to use trekking poles, we mostly see tourists with them). Kate
  4. kam

    when "good" legs go bad

    Hi Neal, Sounds like you're referring to hyaluronan, generic name Hylan, one brand name is "SynVisc". It's more expensive than cortisone. As a vegetarian (considering giving up cheese as well to help me avoid potential obesity due to lack of activity, due to this knee), I'm not too comfortable injecting bits of roosters into my body. We are trialling cortisone first. My orthopaedic specialist hasn't suggested anything else yet - the cortisone injection was painless and so far it has worked ok. There are no reliable longterm studies comparing hyaluronan, cortisone and saline (placebo) as yet. My knee is a lot less swollen today than it was yesterday. I'm not yet 50, so I have a while to go until I am eligible for a knee replacement. My father had his done at 76 years old, we are a long-lived family in general. Kate
  5. I'm right below-knee limb deficient (ie. I was born without my lower right leg, I didn't have an amputation). After years of putting more strain on my left knee, including hopping around on one leg too much when I was a child, I've developed arthritis in my left knee. My patella isn't aligned properly, so it sits to the outside of where it should be, and there is no cartilage remaining under the patella. And now I've learned that the cartilage on the main weightbearing surfaces of my knee is wearing out. It hurts, especially when I walk on uneven ground or up and down stairs and hills. I'm not old enough for a knee replacement, since I'd wear it out and need a replacement sooner rather than later. Today I had an injection of cortisone & local anaesthetic, so it's feeling great again, but clearly it won't last. My doctor is willing to repeat the injection when needed, for example, before I go on holidays, etc. So, I offer this as a warning: don't do what I did! Especially, if you are young and plan to live a long life, or if you have a child with limb deficiency - don't let them hop around on one leg. For me, the damage is done, but please don't do what I did! If there's anyone else in this position, I'm interested in hearing how you cope. I'm not used to being disabled - my "normal" life is just that, pretty normal (husband, two kids, full-time employment - no time to be lazing around feeling sorry for myself). But I think I need to take a bit of time to think about how to cope with it, your suggestions are welcome. Kate
  6. Hi Tonya, Cathy Howells, the physiotherapist at my prosthetics centre, has written a book specifically for amputees who want to be fitter (which is probably most of us). The book is called "The Amputee Coach", and you can find out more about it at http://www.theAmputeeCoach.com. The only exercise equipment you need is a theraband (a wide plastic strip, like "rubber" balloons are made of). It includes exercises for AK and BK, and is useful, even for people like me with nearly 50 years of experience (born with congenital limb deficiency). It starts at the beginning, helping you to get up off the floor when you fall (and all of us do from time to time). Perhaps you could buy a copy and show it to your physiotherapist or trainer at your gym, if you use one? The exercises are all designed to be done at home, though, so you can start by yourself. Kate (I used to be an active contributor to this forum, but that was a few years ago...).
  7. kam

    One year on.......

    I am RBK, with bad knees - my left knee has cartilage damage due to overuse (too much hopping), and my right knee doesn't straighten for various reasons. My prosthesis accommodates the right knee flexion contracture, but it's tough to ride an unmodified bike, next to impossible without toeclips. I ride a bicycle with a short crank (pedal arm) on the righthand side. A bike shop would be able to do this for you if you need it, and it shouldn't be expensive. It means I don't have to bend my right knee as much. If you're bilateral, shorter cranks would mean you could keep the seat lower. I use toeclips to keep my feet on the pedal - never tried the special pedal / shoe combinations, I think they could be difficult since you need to rotate your foot in the pedal to get in or out. I keep the seat at the right height for my left knee, and I always get on / off the bike on my good side. I stand on my good leg on the left side of the bike, swing my prosthesis over and slip it into the toe clip. I then sit on the seat, push down with my right leg to get started, and pedal with my left foot on the upside-down left pedal. I flip the left pedal over with my toe once I'm moving, then put my foot into the toeclip. To stop, I pull my left foot out of the toeclip and rest it on top of the pedal (still able to pedal), then brake, lean the bike to the left, and put my left foot down. Once (and only once) I stopped the bike, it leaned to the right, and I fell over (foot still in the toeclip). It was a bit embarassing, but I was unhurt (never try to stop yourself with your arm if this happens to you, just roll onto your shoulder or you could easily break a collarbone). Falling off a bike when it's stopped is not likely to hurt much. I'd recommend practicing starts on a slight downhill slope when you're learning the technique. Cycling is great exercise, and it's lovely to be able to exercise out in the open air. -kam
  8. kam

    Job interview

    Hi, I wouldn't tell the shop about your amputation, unless they specifically ask for your experience with disabilities. It's fine to tell them later, but legally they cannot discriminate on the grounds of disability (even positively?) so it's just better all round not to mention it. I've never been asked about disabilities (well, just once, but that falls into the category of funny stories). Given that the shop undoubtedly caters to many different types of disability, your empathy and retail experience are better qualifications than your amputation. It's clear from this forum that there's a huge range of experiences represented - my experiences as a congenital amputee are different from yours (for example, I have no phantom pain, but I do live with the consequences of growing up with a prosthesis that didn't always fit... I feel I can't help new adult amputees because I didn't have to go through the trauma, though of course I have similar ssues with general mobility). I'm sure you'll be fine just as yourself, -kam
  9. Cat, All I can say is that I'm glad you're waving with your right paw in the photo :lol: !! -kam :lol:
  10. Cat and I almost have matching left hands! I have my thumb and third finger - my mother always said I was lucky to have my ring finger so I could wear a wedding ring . I always have to be careful when waving in case people think I'm making rude gestures ;) . Actually I have partial index and second fingers on my left hand as well, and I can use them to type a bit (I had surgery to separate the webbing that bound them together about 10 years ago - helps with playing the piano). Both the index and second fingers have all the bones in them, and the index finger even has a fingernail, it's just small due to amniotic banding (slightly more than 1/3 of "normal" length). My hands have never helped me get an upgrade either :( . -kam
  11. I have a few friends who work for Qantas, but none of them have been able to help. Perhaps a letter from a doctor? I have seen the stewards move someone to another seat because she was about to be crushed by the somewhat large person next to her, but I don't see how that would help you (extra weight when flying makes it much more difficult - this person couldn't lower the tray for meals). The best I've done is a couple of empty seats nearby, but that is unlikely when you're travelling with family. All I can say is that international air travel is really nowhere near as exotic as I thought it would be. Last time I found the person next to me had spilt cracker biscuits all over me while I was asleep - luckily I didn't have my prosthesis off or I would have had to try and clear the pin mechanism by turning it upside down and shaking it - now that would have been amusing ;) . I probably would have been arrested for carrying a dangerous object. I just turn into zombie mode when travelling and try to blank the whole thing out. Don't forget to be polite to security and keep an eye on your hand luggage as they put you into the "difficult persons" queue. Last time my wonky left index finger wouldn't work getting through US immigration (yes, you need 2 index fingers and 1 face to be admitted to the US) (well, they coped, but it looked like it could be interesting for a while). -kam
  12. Hi Muchly, I fly to the US pretty frequently from Sydney (3 - 4 times last year), with a couple of other trips (Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul) and I have managed just one upgrade on Qantas (using points). And that's as a gold frequent flyer. Maybe I should just work for a company that would pay for business class? Try to get a seat assignment early so you can sit in an exit row (and DON'T bring crutches unless Catherine needs them - you can't sit in an exit row if you are disabled). I don't normally use crutches, but I've seen people in economy using crutches and wheelchairs. Qantas just don't do upgrades - a colleague of mine travelled from Sydney to Asia and the US every week for 6 weeks, and they didn't give him a complimentary upgrade. Business class across the Pacific is usually full (I've seen them bump people out of business into economy - that was amusing). What day are you flying? -kam
  13. It doesn't seem that long ago, but in late September I started to have a new BK prosthesis made - to replace one we'd been working on for over a year, that had never quite worked. I've been wearing an old (15 year old) prosthesis with a Carbon Copy II foot, supracondylar suspension and a pielite liner, since my "good" prosthesis (iceross liner, Flex Foot) was never comfortable enough to wear all day. We were replacing the "good" prosthesis, since the "old" one had developed cracking at the sides of the socket (not easy to repair). See Here we go again... for the beginning of the story. The good news is that just before Christmas, I took delivery of my new prosthesis. It uses an iceross liner, and a comparable foot to my "old" prosthesis (not sure of the exact model, but it's a multi-axial foot, probably Blatchford). The better news is that the new one works well. Of course, I would prefer an adjustable heel height foot / ankle, and the leg has a foam cosmesis that must be worn with a knee-high stocking, but the proof is in the walking, and this one works. So, what did we do differently? The 15 year old prosthesis doesn't have the "standard" cut-out for the knee - instead, it goes straight across, enclosing my knee. The technical term is "KBM" or "Knee bearing Muenster". This works for me because I don't have a patella (legacy of knee surgery to stabilize a chronically dislocating patella), and my knee doesn't extend fully (it has a slightly larger passive range of motion than active). With the KBM style, I can take a bit of pressure above where my patella would be (a bit like using a PTB strap). The iceross is an improvement since it means it stays on better. I've decided that the stability of the multi-axial foot works better for me than the bounciness of the flexfoot, at least at the moment. I just returned from 4 days camping (in a tent, rough ground, temperatures in the mid-high 30C's), and I had no problems with the leg (no blisters or falls). Next step is to take the old socket from the prosthesis with the flexfoot and attach a rampro ankle and old foot to it so I can be more mobile getting in and out of the water; the kids at the camp were a little surprised by my "pirate" leg (which has no foot), see Going to the beach for a picture. But at least I could walk into the water, and go canoeing and sailing. - kam (sweltering in Sydney; it was 44C today, but we just had a southerly change, so it'll be 26C tomorrow).
  14. Hi Roz, Happy New Year! I'm RBK, and use my right leg on accelerator and brake with no modifications. When I passed my driving test (in Australia, many years ago), they wanted to give me an "automatic only" licence, until I pointed out that I'd used a manual car for the test, and it's my right leg, not my left, that's affected. I ended up with an amended licence that said "must wear artificial leg", but the amendment seems to have been dropped at some point, it now just says I must wear glasses (which I do). I had no problem with the California driving test either. I think it would be more difficult to drive a manual car LBK, due to the range of motion required to operate the clutch, but I'm sure others would have more information here. So, I'd say that once you have a prosthesis fitted and are reasonably comfortable with it, you should be able to drive your car without modifications. I can't offer much advice on the surgery and recovery since I was born without my right foot. Good luck! -kam
  15. kam

    Shower ?

    Amy, I'm right BK (congenital) and I balance by pushing my knee or stump against the wall while showering, standing on my good leg. I can take a little bit of weight at the end of my stump, so if the shower is over the bath, I sometimes use the end of my stump on the edge of the bath. I travel often, and I've never had problems. I can't imagine showering with a prosthesis on. Since we had to renovate our bathroom when we moved to this house, I do have a shower / hose attachment for the bath as well, so I can wash my hair while sitting in the bath if my "good" leg is having problems. It's also great for washing the kids' hair. -kam
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