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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum


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cherylm last won the day on January 11 2017

cherylm had the most liked content!

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About cherylm

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  • Birthday 02/16/1955

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    Northern California, US
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    Art, music, theatre, needlecrafts, cooking, baking, gardening, reading

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  • Amputation Cause:
    fracture complications

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  1. cherylm

    Hey, I'm Mike.

    Good advice from Gibby, again, as long as your mom is feeling up to connecting with other amputees...it can seem a little unnerving at first, but a successful and well-adjusted amputee can say and do things that, as much as you'd like to, you simply can't provide to your mom. On your end, I'd suggest that you just be supportive and let her feel whatever she's feeling. You say it's been only a few months...her emotions are going to be all over the place as she sorts out the realization that the amputation has really, truly, permanently altered the way she's going to be doing things. It's fairly common to think that, once you get your prosthesis, life automatically "goes back to normal." In reality, "normal" returns in bits and pieces over a fairly longish period of time. The older you are, the more difficult it can seem. (I was fifty...it was probably a little over a year before I felt like I was approaching "normal." Little kids, on the other hand seem to adjust so easily!) You CAN reassure her that the fact that she was in good shape prior to her problems will make the adjustments easier...which it will. And you can encourage her to keep track of her progress: it might help her to keep a diary of her accomplishments. I know, for me, I tried to be aware of how well I was able to get around various places...if I could remember that, the last time I climbed those stairs I was shaky and breathless--but this time I was not breathless and only a little unsteady--it was something I could SEE as progress and feel good about. "Normal" will return as she learns more about what her prosthesis will do for her and comes up with ways to work around what the prosthesis won't do. Is her amputation above or below her knee? Above knee can take longer to adjust to and will use more energy than a below knee prosthesis, but both can get you back to a normal life. All the best to both of you!
  2. cherylm

    New to the forum and new to life with one hand

    Hi, BethMarie - I'm actually not sure if I'm going yet. It would probably be a good idea, as I've been through a major revision surgery (just over a year ago) and we're still working out tweaks on my leg...talking to some other amps and providers could be helpful. But I've also been caught up in planning and arranging three (yes, three) milestone family birthdays in the last six months, so I've been waiting on my taxes to see what my finances look like before registering for the conference. Are you set for registration and room now? I'd love to room with you again if I can go! My tax stuff has all arrived and I'm planing on trying to get them filed sometime this week. I'll PM you and let you know ASAP if I'm going to be there. Okay, Kevin, sorry about the "kidnapping"...you can have your thread back now! We were talking about the Amputee Coalition educational conference, which is happening in Tucson, AZ this summer. It's generally a great experience, if you're interested!
  3. cherylm

    New to the forum and new to life with one hand

    Hi, Kevin...welcome to our odd little world, where you can rest assured that your reactions and feelings are completely normal. Now I'm a leg amputee, so I hope you get some responses from upper extremity amps, just because they'll have more useful tips for you. But until then....... First of all, there is NO reason for you to wear a strictly cosmetic prosthetic hand, unless YOU feel that it would be convenient in a specific situation. You're being quite logical in realizing that having a stump that can feel things beats a plastic hand that just "hangs there." the majority of the arm amps I know either don't wear a prosthesis at all or wear a truly functional prosthetic with either biomechanical hand or hook (or interchangeable "tools") when they need to do something specific. While there has been a lot of progress in arm prosthetics, I understand that they can still be quite heavy to wear and many folks wear them only when truly needed. So just BE YOURSELF...OK? It sounds like you're beginning to get the right idea about things like business greetings....yeah, just thrust out your left hand and get on with life. Believe it or not, most folks will appreciate you giving them a visual "cue" to respond to...you're right when you say that they just don't now how to proceed, and you taking the initiative will put them at ease. Go for it and keep at it until it feels truly natural to you. Your missing right hand is just as valid as an amputee who is missing "more" then you. You're entitled to feel frustrated, to celebrate new accomplishments, and to just want to "talk" with other folks who understand the ins and outs of being an amputee. So again, you''re perfectly normal on that front. You're "one of us": an average, everyday person who's learning to live an average life in unusual circumstances. Don't expect to have a "deadline" on learning to be the "perfect" amputee...you're likely to keep encountering periodic challenges that need new solutions at many points in your life. The ""challenges" just become less frequent as you start building your set of ways to deal with them. So take a deep breath, take a look at the way your daughter just takes her situation as it comes, and realize that this is truly the only option out there...just LIVE. The rest will come with time.
  4. cherylm

    Mickey h

    Hi, Micky, and welcome to the Forum! In theory, you can wear as many plys of socks as you want, as long as they feel comfortable and you're able to walk well with your prosthetic leg. HOWEVER, most prosthetists recommend that you have your socket recast (or seriously padded) if you are wearing 10 plys. That means 3 of the 3ply socks, plus a single ply sock. Since You're a new amputee, it's likely that you'll be having a LOT of shrinkage on your residual limb. (I went through three different sockets during my own first year as a new amputee.) A socket that fits well is usually MUCH easier to walk with, so you might want to check in with your prosthetist and see if they think recasting is in order. Good luck to you!
  5. Hi, Kait, and welcome to the Forum! I have had "something like" some of your situation, although I amputated before anyone mentioned fusion as an option. My own problems started when I was born with what was considered a very, very minor defect in the alignment of my feet...it was never considered worth treating until my mid-forties, at which time tendons started snapping, bones started breaking, and feet started getting surgically rebuilt. The right foot ultimately came out OK (after only 10 surgical procedures), but the left one kept breaking down, becoming more painful, stiff, and fragile after each of four different attempts at a surgical repair. Eventually, I developed a post-op infection and, yada, yada, yada, I opted for amputation in hopes of getting my life back. Soooo....I sort of understand where you're coming from. I'll give you the "upside" of the amputation first: it gave me pretty much my "normal" life back and I've never regretted it. The "downside?" It took a long time to get that normal life back, and the earliest of my prosthetics did actually have the same effect as a fused ankle. But prosthetic legs have come a long way in the 13 years since my amputation, and you're a lot younger than I was, so your own recovery could turn out to be easier than mine. If I were you, I'd do as much research as you can on both fusion and amputation. And that will mean speaking openly with your doctors about what you fear and what you hope for under each scenario. You might also want to make contact with a prosthetist and get their opinion of possible solutions for your situation. You say that your condition is very rare, but if you happen to be in contact with that one other person, it could be invaluable to compare notes...often folks dealing with a situation will know much more about what might or might not work than a person with training but no experience with the condition. At any rate, do all you can to gather information that's truly applicable to YOU, not just theory about your options. I'm not sure how much involvement your family and friends should have during your research and investigations...again, they do not know how all the aspects of your situation and how your condition feels to you. It is good if you can have the support of family and friends, but when most people hear talk about losing a limb, their first response is panic and the second is resistance. You might want to have enough information to be pretty solid with your decision before asking for their support. (That's based on my own experience, but you know your family best.) I'm sorry you're in the position to have to think about this decision. It's not an easy one...once you lose a limb, it's permanent. But once you lose a painful and useless limb, you can also get on with figuring out what to do with your life. A determined amputee can have a very nice life one-legged. So good luck with your research and I hope you can reach a decision that truly feels right to you!
  6. cherylm

    Hello All, Basset Here,

    Glad to see you're branching out, Bassett...I'm also glad to see more activity here, as this can be such a great resource for folks! I didn't even really THINK about the Amputee Coalition conference being nearish to you, so thanks Beth Marie! It is quite a fabulous way to get educated in amp-life, see a huge amount of gear available, do some networking with involved and active amputees and--for just a few days--feel like you're NOT a member of a strange little "minority community." Suddenly, you're "just a regular guy" again and it can be a nice feeling. Plus, you'll meet some fantastic people!
  7. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    Sorry I've been out-of-touch lately...I've just gone through a major revision surgery on my stump.....lost about 2" of bone and a whole lotta excess tissue due to a nasty fistula that was housing a "small and mostly inactive" colony pf MRSA. Back home and healing now, so I'll soon be starting casting for my own new socket. Are you still doing well with your new leg?
  8. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    Hope things went well with your Hanger visit. This whole liner/socket sounds like a set-up that might be better off just being recast and replaced. I had one socket in my life that was simply a disaster right from the start...we made dozens of adjustments and tweaks, and it never was right. We just kept at it until my insurance decided that enough time (a little over a year) had passed and they authorized a complete recasting and new socket. In my case, a big part of the problem was that I was just feeling generally overwhelmed and depressed at the time, and I was just too darned tired to bother talking to my leg guys about yet another socket. "You're the experts...just make it work" was my attitude........and I paid dearly for that! Once I got my head back on straight and started communicating again, the replacement socket was a success. So hang in there and keep at it until you get a leg you can wear and walk in comfortably!
  9. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    I don't know about the current state of valves out there...I tried one several years ago, and it was spectacularly unsuccessful, but I'd guess that they've improved since then. Maybe it will give you some good information. After 12 years as an amp, I'm still slowly and steadily shrinking. I have to go through castings for new liners and sockets about every two years. One of my favorite things about my pump suspension is that I don't have to take time to add socks in the middle of the day...but I still change enough, over time, that I have to slowly add socks as I keep shrinking...it's just that it happens over the course of months, instead of hours. Is there anything that's been happening in your life that could contribute to unexpected volume changes? I'd guess that, after nearly half a century, you'd be so accustomed to NOT changing volume that you might not even recognize a change in volume unless you really sat down and thought about it. Does that sound possible?
  10. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    That sure sounds like a possibility for all your troubles! I have a tendency to develop pinholes in my suspension sleeves...and even knowing that, I tend to think that any problems with my suspension "must" have something to do with my body rather than the sleeve. As a result, it can take me a while before I visit my CPO...which is a foolish thing to do. I hope that they can either repair or order a new liner for you, and that it will be enough to get your skin to calm down afain!
  11. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    There's a "temporary DIY" solution you can try for the suction issue if you think that may be the root of the problem. (It does sound likely from what you've said...) First off, does your pump actually have a second "comfort fit" button on it? If it does, try that mode for a bit and see if it feels better. If a secondary setting on the pump doesn't exist, try a loose sort of "diffuser" stuck down into the pump hose. I did this with the assistance of my prosthetist during the troubleshooting on my latest leg. We used a small bit of wool felt...just cut a small square, rolled it into a loose plug, and stuck it into the end of the pump hose inside the socket. Regular polyester craft felt may not work for this, but wool felt is fairly easy to find and you need only the tiniest bit of it. It simply makes the draw from the pump a little less intense. In my case, the improvement was immediate and let us know where to go from there. Good luck to you!
  12. cherylm

    No clue

    Hi, Skip...you're in the right place to start getting answers to your questions. Johnny's right, though...it will help if we know a little about your background and the type of surgery you've had. Leg? Above or below the knee? Arm? Above or below the elbow? What contributed to you needing an amputation? We very likely have someone around who can identify with what you're going through. I'm going to elaborate on Johnny's comment that there is "no normal." I think what he's getting at is that every single amputee is, in one way or another, different from every other amputee...we all have our own particular "quirks," but we can still help each other out and can offer advice on things that might work for you. If your surgery went well, going on to rehab a few days after surgery is not unheard of. If you are given a choice on rehab centers, try to get one fairly close to your family, just because ir makes it easier for everyone involved. And, as for taking ativan...well, ir is only a few days since your surgery, and they want to keep you comfortable and as free as post-operative pain as possible. You do have the right to refuse the meds if you want to, but it might be best to taper off gradually as you heal. It's very possible to live a normal life as an amputee...I know that my own surgery got my life back on track after a long downward spiral, and I've never regretted having it done. I hope we can help you sort this all out!
  13. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    It could help...I mentioned all those various "accommodations" in my last post, and I've used a number of them in my "total contact" socket. My best guess is that any type of non-porous padding, either permanent or temporary, would work, as long as it kept the opening for the pump tubing clear. The only one that might be problematic would be massive thicknesses of socks, as that also adds a lot of trapped air to the socket interior.
  14. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    The little "cup" thing looks interesting...at various times, due to a long, long history of stump shrinking, I've worn assorted lengths and thicknesses of socks...and leather pads...and wool felt cushions in the bottom of my socket. All of that, though, generally goes on when I'm nearing the end of a particular socket's lifespan. Your socket seems like it's too new for that...and after all that time as an amputee, I'd think your volume change issues would be minimal. That "crevice" sounds like it can be a challenge! All the best to you!
  15. cherylm

    OttoBock Triton Harmony

    I've never worn a PTB suspension--I actually did quite well with a pin-lock system for several years--but I've worn a elevated vacuum-assisted pump suspension for a few years now. In the beginning, I went through some miserable times with the pump...it literally tore the skin off my distal end in long, wide strips. Yes...it hurt! My prosthetist spent a fair amount of time consulting with OttoBock. Even though my system is not "fully" OttoBock components, they were very helpful. Their suggestion was that I try a custom-molded liner, even though I was technically sized for a normal "prefab" liner. I have to admit that I was skeptical, but the custom-made liner completely solved the issue. Any sort of airspace in the liner can be bad news. On my current leg, we tried moving the place where the hose fed into the socket to make the entire assemblage more compact and less likely to get caught on things...and simply the change in position caused skin irritation--almost a blister--on my distal end near the hose. That one required an adjustment in suction strength...and then everything was lovely again. It's a tricky suspension to wear...but it's soooo grand when it's set up "just right." I'd hate to have to give it up! I hope your leg guy can come up with a solution for you...................