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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum


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About BaghdadBean

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  • Membership Type:
    Limb Difference/Birth
  • Amputation Type:
  • Amputation Cause:
    injury and bone marrow disease
  1. Hi guys, rough couple of days here, it was the 8th anniversary of the incident that left me injured yesterday and I'm kinda a basket case around this time of year. About how long was it until you could use the running leg? Was it nerves in the socket area that caused the pain? When you use the running leg, have you ever had problems with security in it? Did it take you a while to get the confidence to run, or were you just damn the bruises lets burn? My good leg is seriously muscled, and I've been trying to keep my bad thigh in good shape. My pelvis is a little messed up, so I don't think I'll ever be able to ride a horse again (another one of those things that drives me nuts if I let it) but I can rotate forward and backwards fine. No jumping jacks in my future though. Higgy, you really pegged on a lot of what I was worried about... mostly hay, feed, and whether or not I'd ever be able to shear or drench the sheep again. Due to the nerve damage, I mostly drive and run equipment from the knee... something which can make for interesting moments in the excavator from time to time, but overall it is what it is. I do have a few degrees of mobility in my ankle, but not much, and I have to be pretty careful on uneven terrain. How do you manage rubber boots with your prosthetic? Do you put the leg in the boot first and then put it on all together? Because of the limited movement in my ankle, I can only get into a few different pairs of shoes anyways, only ones with a big enough shaft, which usually means I'm slipping around in Bogs about three to four sizes too big. How quick are you on your feet around the cattle? Did you find you were still quick enough to avoid being stomped on by a suddenly turning animal, or do you have to give them more clearance? We live on very mountainous terrain which is highly uneven from running cattle for 25 years, not to mention lots of hidden tree stumps in the pastures. The sheep tend to stomp out the humps pretty good with their little feet, but it's definitely rough country no matter how you look at it. I hadn't even thought of the load bearing aspect of engineering the leg, so I'm glad you brought it up. There are so many things I feel so nakedly stupid about, and I'm glad you guys are willing to answer dumb questions with such good nature. I went through the advocate's office and then hooked up with an OIF/OEF advocate who is utterly horrified that I'm looking at amputation. She did manage to get some pressure put on the ortho office, but she flat out won't help me rally for surgery. Her words "You need to realize that amputation is NOT an option." So... well, I'm going at it the way I always do--by research, persistence, and laying out as logical an argument as ever, since that seems to be the only thing that gets heard. Honestly, I'd rather do anything than ever talk to the media again though. There was a real storm around me at first as being a combat related injury in a female vet, and my mother is a big peace protester so they tried to pit us as war hawk daughter and peace protester mom. It was horrible, it cost me a lot of friends and some career options in the service, and I'll never again speak to a reporter if I can help it. Once again, I want to say thanks to all of you guys who take the time to answer these introductions. It's much appreciated. I also wondered... how did you all who had elective surgeries break it to your families? When I first talked about it to mine, some of them were supportive, some were horrified, and well, now they're about 99% behind me. I don't imagine everybody has been so lucky. How was it for all of you?
  2. Hey, I wanted to say thank you to everybody for the welcome and the advice. And a real big thank you to Higgy--you pegged right on the head some of what I was worried about. I need to finish writing a paper before deadline tonight, and then I'll come back in and reread what all of you have put out here for me. Thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for the honesty, everybody. I really, really appreciate it.
  3. Hello, I'm Bean, a soldier-mechanic-gunner turned sheep rancher in Oregon, U.S. of A. Long story short, I had a compound fracture of right tib & fib and a few other fractures during an incident in Iraq. I don't really like to talk about it, and I'm dreadfully self conscious of all the scarring on my body, so I had most of it tattooed over, and have experimented with various types of scar removal stuff with limited success. It turned out when I got medevaced that they couldn't do surgery right away, and they thought that some hardware from a previous fracture would hold the new one stable. Bad thing was, my surgery date kept getting put off until the leg had healed at a 7 degree angle, and then they diagnosed me with a really weird bone marrow problem. Basically, all the marrow in the tib and fib, and in the other areas that had fractured, had died and was eaten away into little weird hollow spots. Over the years, these hollow spots have grown, and I now am missing most of the marrow in my right lower leg (and a good number of ribs, part of my pelvis, and part of my shoulder). Obviously, this has been pretty sucky, and to compound the damage, I've had a couple of failed ligament and tendon transfers, numerous surgeries, and now have severe post traumatic arthritis and major nerve damage that is partially from the injury and partially from the multiple surgeries. My right knee was injured as well, but not badly, until one day when my leg went out from under me (due to nerve damage, it collapses under me sometimes, don't know how else to describe it) and I slammed right on the knee. Ever since, it's been pretty messed up, but the VA won't do anything other than x-rays, and have basically told me to just be thankful that I'm alive, and that with injuries as complex and extensive as mine, I need to just adjust to a life on narcotic painkillers. Honestly, that kinda ticks me off. I've done a lot of research, and pushed my case with the VA, until they finally conceded that the only surgery that would possibly work would be a fusion, but there'd be a high risk of failure due to my weird bone marrow issue. I pushed and said lets just hack it off, because if you just amputate from the start, we'll be good to go and I can get back to life. I want to run again so bad it's like a sickness in my soul. I used to run 6-7 miles every other day, and weight train on the non running days. Being this crippled wreck of a person who can't even pick up my own kid to cross the street without having my vision red out with pain... I don't want to whine but it's really been driving me up the wall. I talked to several civilian doctors who all said I'd be a good candidate for amputation, not least because I've kept myself in the best physical condition I possibly can, considering that my mobility is strictly limited. In all honesty, I'm willing to face the specter of phantom pains, because in my books, I'm already in so much pain every day that I'm looking at a life on opiate painkillers, and if I could choose between in pain and gimpy and in pain and running again, I'll shoot for the running option please. My one real fear though, is that I'd lose what little strength I do have left. My son is profoundly autistic, and he tends to get himself into all sorts of scrapes that require rapid rescue. I can't really run at all, but if he were in danger, you can skippy well bet I move at a pretty good clip for short distances. I also run a ranch, and have to do heavy labor such as throwing sheep to the ground to shear them, and digging pits, trenches, etc. I run heavy equipment for the big stuff, and I do have occasional help around the ranch with things, but I'm pretty nervous, especially when I handle the rams. Right now, I pay for everything in extreme pain, but I can still do most of it. The downside is I'm usually down and good for nothing for a few days to a week after I do something heavy duty, and I just can't see spending the rest of my life like this. As is, I have to hire help for a lot of stuff that I really feel like I should be able to do, partially because I'm always scared I'll break the dang leg again with all that hollow marrow. I do have a partner, but I'm effectively a single parent, because my partner is usually gone abroad or beyond on work, and even while local, is only here a few hours out of each day. However, I know my partner can arrange for time off or work from home during my recovery time from surgery, but it would be a bit of a torque. If it makes any difference, my partner is really pushing for this too, and supports me wholeheartedly. Matter of fact, the majority of my family all feel that amputation would be the best possible solution to my situation, and I know I have a good support system for post op from them, even if it requires them to fly here or take the train to stay with me and help me watch after my lovely, beloved demon-child. I found a prostheticist guy local here who is a stumpy himself and who I really like, respect, and feel like I have the utmost faith in him. He's really pulling for me with my battle against the VA, and he doesn't bat an eye over the fact that I'm a female combat vet, which is more than I can say for the docs over at the veterans hospital. I managed to win a small victory and got the VA to agree to let me seek more local care, since I live in a remote rural location. They're going to send me to a local university hospital, and I hope to find less resistance there. If I could get them to do the surgery, and the local guy to do the fitting, I think I'd be one happy lady. However, I'm still scared of losing even more than what I've already lost. As for the prostheticist guy, he tells me that the only worry he has is my knee. We don't really know what's wrong with it, and I've been trying to go without the brace for short periods every day to work the muscles back up in it. I've also been doing a lot of exercises and what not in order to build the strength back in it, but it just feels a little shaky, almost as if whatever held it straight is missing on the inner side, and it twists around without my control. I don't know if that's because of muscle damage, or because of nerve damage. So for the past few years, this has been my story. I finally figured I should unscrew from my prideful ball of self sufficiency and hurt here, and come talk to people who've been through something similar. I'm occasionally mannerless but I swear, I don't mean anything bad by it, I just spent too many years in the Army and my civi manners are still evolving. I hope I don't offend anybody here, and I hope I can hear some experiences to help me figure out if I'm going to be able to swing this. Sorry for the wall of text, this has been building up a while.