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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum

Amputee Glossary

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C'mon, you're making me work now. Thank heavens for Google. Also the sleep deprivation of night shifts has befuddled my brain (more than usual) and it took me ages to work that out :D :D :D

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I've only just noticed it now, too! :lol: :lol:

Marcus, you meant it when you said that you'd have fun doing this, didn't you??!!!!! :lol: :P ;)

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Joint and corset: hmmm... are you sure this isn't you're idea of relaxation after a hard days prosthetising.

Marcus smoking prohibited herbal substances whilst wearing soft leather underwear :P :lol: :lol:

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Joint and corset - also known around here as a thigh lacer. B) :unsure: ;)

I wore one when I was 5 - 10 years old (well, it'd be more correct to say I wore several). It was a good thing that our neighbour had welding equipment, I used to break it regularly. It's ok, I grew out of it at a young age ;)

I think I've worn just about every kind of BK prosthesis over the years: PTB, PTS, PTSCSP, TSB - I like the TSB but with a bit of a ridge like a PTB, I suspect most sockets are actually a hybrid. My current socket uses a gel liner but is higher on the sides like a PTS to offer a little more stability.

Don't think I've ever used a spark plug, though, except in the car :). That's the joke one, right Marcus?


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I have just laughed myself silly with these postings. I have something I didn't see posted ( may have been from the tears in my eyes from laughter). I have some sort of flexion at my knee, it's really bent. It's playing havvock with allowing me to feel comfortable in my prosthesis. Is that called a contracture flexion? They told me what it is, but didn't have pen and paper to write it down. Then, Ilearned I have what is called crutch or crutches arm. I'm not kidding. It is not swinging your arm as you walk because you've been on crutches so long you've lost that ability. Now, I have to relearn what was once so natural. Weird and a bummer.

Keep up the good work.


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Sounds like a flexion contracture - it is more difficult to get a comfortable fit, since the socket must be moved backward to compensate for the angle changes needed to get your foot on the ground. The foot needs to be flat on the ground underneath your knee, or you can't walk. If you have a long stump, it can be impossible. I have a diagram that shows what I mean - I'll attach it. The grey lines show "normal" alignment (works fine if your knee straightens :( ), the blue shows what happens if you just rotate to accommodate the flexion contracture (you keep falling over because you feel like there's no toe :o ), and the green show how the foot needs to be moved forward so it's under the knee :) .

Unless you're careful, you end up with another flexion contracture at the hip to compensate, which then throws your back out... I do a lot of stretching to try and reduce it, but it's basically impossible in my case. My knee is a mess, so my mother feels guilty (perhaps she should have exercised it when I was a baby before I got my first prosthesis - no one told her, though); I blame a long-since retired surgeon who managed to make it worse not better when I was 13. Anyway, like me, you are probably way better off with a difficult knee than being AKA, as long as it is not painful. Mine doesn't hurt, but I walk with a limp, and I'm forever explaining that there's no reason why most BKs should walk as badly as I do. With your knee, you can tell exactly where your foot is, even if you can't straighten the knee.

I don't know about the crutch arm, though...



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AAOP (American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists): A professional society of Orthotists and Posthetists. Founded November of 1970

ABC Board Certified Practitioners: Practitioners certified by the American Board of Certification in Prosthetics. Incorporated August 1948

AOPA (American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association): A trade association of facilities (no individuals) that provide Orthotic and prosthetic services. Founded 1917.

Abduction: Motion of a body part away from the mid-line of the body.

Abrasion: Wearing away of the skin through rubbing or friction.

ACA: Amputee Coalition of America. Founded 1986 Incorporated in 1989.

Accessible: Easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, and/or use safely and with dignity by a person with a disability (i.e., site, facility, work environment, service, or program.)

Acquired Amputation: Limbs surgically removed due to a disease or trauma generally diabetic/vascular, cancer, bone infection, non-union of fractures, or accidents.

ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act. Enacted 1990.

Adherent Scar Tissue: Scar tissue formed in the healing process which sticks to underlying tissue such as muscle or fascia or bone.

AE: Above elbow also referred to as "transhumoral"

AK: Above knee also referred to as "transfemoral"

Alignment: position of prosthetic socket in relation to foot and knee.

Amputation: Loss or absence of all or part of a limb.

Anterior: Front, as front portion of a shoe or foot.

Architectural Barrier: Stairs, ramps, curbs or anything that obstructs your walking or wheelchair mobility.

Assistive /Adaptive Equipment: Devices that assist in activities or mobility, including ramps, bars, changes in furniture heights, environmental control units and other devices.

BE: Below elbow also referred to as "transradial"

Bilateral amputee: A person missing either both arms or both legs, a double amputee.

Biomechanics: Applying mechanical principles to the study of how the human body moves.

BK: Below knee also referred to as transtibial

BOC: Board for Orthotists/Prosthetists Certification

Body Image: The awareness and perception of one's own body related to both appearance and function.

Check or Test Socket: A temporary socket, often transparent, made over the plaster model to aid in obtaining proper fit and function of the prosthesis.

Congenital Anomaly (phocomelia): a birth abnormality such as a missing limb (amelia) or deformed limb.

Congenital Amputee: Individual born missing a limb(s). Technically, These individuals are not Amputees, but are "Limb Deficient."

Contracture: Tightening of muscles around a joint which restricts the range of motion

Cosmesis: used to describe the outer, aesthetic covering of prosthesis. Refers to the appearance of the prosthesis, whether a "naturalistic" treatment is attempted.

CP (Certified Prosthetist): A person, who has passed certification standards as set by the American Board of Certification in Prosthetics.

CPO (Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist): A person, who has passed certification standards as set by the American Board of Certification in Prosthetics and Orthotics.

Custom Fit: Fitting and individual with an item/device made from and image of the individual's anatomy fabricated according to the needs of that individual.

DAK: Double (aka bilateral) AK, also referred to as "Bilateral transfemoral"

Definitive, or "Permanent" Prosthesis: A replacement for a missing limb or part of a limb which meets accepted check-out standards for comfort, fit, alignment, function, appearance, and durability.

Desensitization: The process of making the residual limb less sensitive to touch by massaging, tapping or using a vibrator.

Distal: (1) The end of the residual limb. (2) Farther from the central portion of the body. Opposite of proximal.

Disarticulation: an amputation through a joint: commonly the hip, shoulder, knee, ankle, elbow, or wrist.

Donning and doffing: Putting on and taking off prosthesis respectively.

Dorsiflexion: pointing the toe/foot upward, toward the body.

Durometer: Different 'density' or strength and in the context means it will allow the ankle to move, bend, flex more or less.

Early Prosthetic Fitting: A procedure in which a preparatory prosthesis is provided for the amputee immediately after removal of the sutures. (See IPOP)

ED: Elbow Disarticulation an amputation through the elbow joint.

Edema: A local or generalized condition in which the body tissues contain an excess of fluid.

Elastic Wrap: Elasticized bandage used to prevent swelling and encourage shrinkage and maturation of the residual limb.

Elbow Disarticulation: Amputation of the arm at the elbow.

Endoskeletal Prosthesis: prosthesis built more like a human skeleton with support and components on the inside. This design may have a soft cosmetic cover on the outside.

Energy storing foot: A prosthetic foot designed with a flexible heel. It is designed with a spring that stores energy when weight is applied to it and releases energy when the amputee transfers weight to the other foot.

Exoskeletal Prosthesis: a prosthesis that is hollow on the inside with a hard outer surface to bear weight.

Extension assist: A method of assisting the prosthetic to "kick forward" on the swing through phase to help speed up the walking cycle.

Extremity or limb: Relating to arm or leg.

Foot Function: Substituting use of the feet for the hands.

Forequarter Amputation (Interscapulthorasic): Amputation of the Arm, shoulder, clavicle and scapula.

Functional: Designed with the primary goal of controlling and individuals anatomical function, such as providing support or stability, or assisting ambulation.

Gait Training: Learning how to walk with your prosthesis or prostheses.

HD: Hip Disarticulation: Amputation which removes the leg at the hip joint, leaving the pelvis intact.

HP Hemipelvectomy: An amputation where approximately half of the pelvis is removed.

IAOP: International Association of Orthotics and Prosthetics. Established 1992

IPOP: "Immediate Post Operative Prosthesis": A temporary prosthesis applied in the operating room immediately after the amputation.

Ischial Containment Socket: is a derivative of the Narrow ML, as a special attempt is made to form a little pocket for the ischium to sit in.

Ischial Tuberosity: the large sitting bone: A bone that protrudes from your pelvis that may get sore when sitting on a hard surface for extended periods of time. An Ischial Containment (IC) socket cups this bone on the inside and back as well as the bottom to accomplish two things: 1) By cupping, or containing this bone inside the socket, the socket tends not to shift laterally (outside) when weight is put on it, making walking more efficient.

Ischium: The lower portion of the hipbone. This is the bone that protrudes from your pelvis that may get sore when sitting on a hard surface for extended periods of time.

Kinesiology: The study of human motion.

Knee Disarticulation (KD) or through the knee (TDK): Amputation of the leg through the knee.

Lateral: to the side, away from the mid-line of the body

L-Codes: Reimbursement codes used in the prosthetic/health care industry to identify what services and/or devices were provided.

LE: Lower extremity

Liner: Suspension systems used to attach prosthesis to the residual limb and/or provide additional, comfort and protection of the residual limb. These liners may be made of silicon, pelite or gel substances.

Long's Line: First described by Ivan Long, and has to do with the location of the foot in relation to the head and distal end of the femur and is used in alignment. It is a straight line from the head of the femur, though the distal end of the femur down to the center of the heel of the prosthetic foot.

Medial: toward the mid-line of the body

Modular Prosthesis: An artificial limb assembled from components, or modules usually of the endoskeletal type where the supporting member, or pylon and may have a cosmetic covering (See "Cosmesis") shaped and finished to resemble the natural limb.

Multiaxis foot: Allows inversion and eversion and rotation of foot and is effective for walking on uneven surfaces.

Myoelectrics: literally muscle electronics. This is a technology used in upper-extremity prosthetic; to control the prosthesis via muscle contraction using electrical signals from the muscles to power the prosthesis.

Myoplasty: Muscles anchored to opposing muscles

Myodesis: Muscles anchored to end of bone. Referring to muscles anchored by sutures through the bone

Multiaxis foot: allows inversion and eversion and rotation of foot

Neuroma: The end of a nerve left after amputation, which continues to grow in a cauliflower shape. Neuromas can be troublesome, especially when they are in places where they are subject to pressure from the prosthesis socket.

Normal Shape/Normal Alignment (NSNA) - also know as a narrow ML socket: First described by Ivan Long, this socket more closely approximates the shape of the musculature of a residual limb, when compared to a quad socket. The sides or medial/lateral measurement is tightened down to squeeze the residual limb, with most of the squeezing taking place on the outside or lateral side. This helps control the rotation of the socket by putting pressure along the fleshy area of the leg that can handle some side to side pressure.

Nylon sheath: A sock interface worn close to the skin on the residual limb to add comfort and wick away perspiration.

Occupational Therapy/OT: Teaching how to perform activities of daily living such as feeding, grooming, bathing and dressing as independently as possible.

Orthotics: the profession of providing devices to support and straighten the body.

Orthotist: A skilled professional who fabricates orthotic devices that are prescribed by a physician.

Orthosis: A device that is used to protect, support, or improve function of parts of the body that move. Singular for a supportive device. Orthoses is plural.

Partial Foot Amputation: an amputation on the front part of the foot; also called "Choppart Amputation"

Partial suction: Usually refers to the socket of an above the knee prosthesis which has been modified to allow the wearing of prosthetic socks while wearing the prosthesis.

PFFD (Proximal femoral focal deficiency): A Congenital anomaly where the proximal femur is lacking in completeness.

Phantom pain: Pain, which seems to originate in the portion of the limb, which was removed.

Phantom sensation: The normal ghost image of the absent limb may feel normal at times and at other times, be uncomfortable or painful.

Physiatrist: A doctor of Rehabilitation Medicine who specializes in the comprehensive management of patients with impairments and disabilities arising from neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and vascular disorders.

Physical Therapist: A therapist who is concerned with your gross motor activities such as transfers, gait training, and how to function with or without a prosthesis.

Pistoning: Refers to the residual limb slipping up and down inside the Prosthetic socket while walking.

Plantar: Bottom of the foot.

Plantarflexed/Plantarflexion: Means the toe is pointing down, toward the sole. Almost like pushing the gas pedal down and simulating that position or alignment.

Ply: Thickness of stump sock material. The higher the ply number the thicker the sock.

Pneumatic/Hydraulic: Used in reference to knee joints and provides controlled changes in the speed of walking.

Prehension: To hold, grasp or pinch

Preparatory Prosthesis: An unfinished functional replacement for an amputated limb, fitted and aligned in accordance with sound biomechanical principles and worn for a limited period of time to accelerate the rehabilitation process.

Prostheses: More than one prosthesis.

Prosthesis: An artificial part of the body. In the case of amputees, usually an arm or a leg.

Prosthetics: The profession of providing cosmetic and/or functional restoration of missing human parts.

Prosthetist: A person involved in the science and art of prosthetics; one who designs and fits artificial limbs.

Proximal: Nearer to the central portion of the body; opposite of distal.

Posterior: The back side of the body or part in question, i.e. posterior knee or patellar region.

PTB: Patellar Tendon Bearing BK Prosthesis where weight is on the tendon below the kneecap.

Pylon: A rigid member, usually tubular, between the socket or knee unit and the foot that provides a weight bearing support shaft for an endoskeletal prosthesis.

Quad Socket: A socket designed for an above the knee amputee which has four distinctive sides allowing the muscles to function as much as possible.

Ramus: The middle portion of the pubic bone, in the crotch area. The front middle portion of the pubic bone, palpated just above the genitals

Range of motion: The amount of movement a limb has in a specific direction at a specific joint such as your hip or knee.

Rehabilitation: The process of restoring a person who has been debilitated by a disease or injury to a functional life.

Revision: Surgical modification of the residual limb.

Residual limb: The portion of the arm or leg remaining after the amputation. Some people refer to it as a "stump".

Rigid Dressing: A plaster wrap over the stump, usually applied in the operating or recovery room immediately following surgery, for the purpose of controlling edema (swelling) and pain. It is preferable, but not necessary, that the rigid dressing be shaped in accordance with the basic biomechanical principles of socket design.

SACH Foot: (Solid-Ankle Cushion Heel): foot used since the Civil War.

Shock Pylon: A prosthetic pylon that dampens the vertical forces exerted on the residual limb.

Shoulder Disarticulation (SD): Amputation through the shoulder joint.

Shrinker: A prosthetic reducer made of elastic material and designed to help control swelling of the residual limb (edema) and/or shrink it in preparation for a prosthetic fitting.

Single Axis Foot: Used since the Civil War, this foot is based on an ankle hinge that provides dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. I.e. toe up & toe down.

Shock pylon: A shock absorber used to cushion the impact of walking.

Shuttle lock: A mechanism that locks a pin attached to the distal end of a liner locking the residual limb into a socket.

Social Worker: A professional who assists you by helping to coordinate your discharge from the hospital and oversees appropriate contact with other services or organizations. The social worker will help to facilitate your re-entry into family and community life.

Soft socket: A soft-liner built into a prosthetic socket to provide cushioning or permit muscle function.

Split hooks: Terminal devices with two hook-shaped fingers operated through the action of harness and cable systems.

Stance control: Friction device with an adjustable brake mechanism to add stability to a prosthetic knee unit.

Stump: A word commonly used to refer to the residual limb.

Suction socket: A socket designed to provide suspension by means of negative pressure vacuum in a socket; achieved by forcing air out of the socket through a one-way valve when donning and using the prosthesis.

Supercondular Suspension: A method of holding on prosthesis by clamping on the bony prominence above a joint, called "Condyles"

Suspension system(s): The method used to hold the prosthesis on to the body. Includes locking pin, TES belt, suspension sleeve, waist belt, supercondular, PTB and suction.

Swing phase: Prosthesis moving from full flexion to full extension. Usually used in reference to prosthetic knee units.

Switch control: Use of electric switches to control current from a battery to operate an electric elbow, wrist rotator or terminal device

Symes amputation: An amputation through the ankle joint that retains the fatty heel pad portion and is intended to provide end weight bearing.

Temporary Prosthesis: A prosthesis made soon after an amputation as an inexpensive way to help retrain a person to walk and balance while shrinking the residual limb.

TEC: Total Environmental Control liner

Terminal devices: Devices attached to the wrist unit of an upper extremity prosthesis that provides some aspect of the function (grasp, release, cosmesis, etc.).

TES belt: A neoprene or Lycra suspension system for AK prostheses that has a ring that the prosthesis slides into. There is a neoprene belt that attaches around your waist by Velcro/hook and loop fastener. Is use to give added suspension of a prosthesis and/or control rotation.

Therapeutic Recreation: Provides instruction in returning to leisure activities.

Transtarsal amputation: Through the tarsal (tarsus) or foot bones. (SEE "PARTIAL FOOT AMPUTATION")

Traumatic amputation: An amputation that is the result of an injury.

Transfers: Moving from one position to another (such as from sitting on a bed to sitting in a wheelchair).

Therapeutic custom shoe: A shoe designed and fabricated to address an individual's medical condition. A therapeutic custom shoe is made over a modified positive model of an individual's foot and can be either custom-molded or custom-made.

Upper extremity (UE): Having to do with the upper part of the body. In reference to amputees, arms or shoulder amputations.

Voluntary-closing devices: Terminal devices that are closed by forces on a control cable; grasp is proportional to the amount of pull on the cable.

Voluntary-opening devices: Terminal devices that are opened by body motion and closed by elastic bands or springs.

Wrist Disarticulation (WD): Amputation through the wrist.


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Marcus, don't think you can get out of this so easily by getting Julio to do all the typing ... we'll still have more questions for you :)

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Whoa, Julio-and you kno al this by heart? Just kidding, what a job that must have been.

Thanks KAM & Marcus. This must have gotten worse since I've been using my wheel chair the past 4-5 monhs and it doesn't have anything to put my leg out on. My husband had made a board for me early on so I'd best get it out and put it on my chairs when I sit. He was nice enough to have put carpet padding around a piece of wood and covered it with terrycloth. Thinking back, my surgeon said something about keeping the leg straight, but I'd forgotten that a year later.

The thing about the arm is that I no longer swing myarms back and forth as I walk. This usually happens to amputees who get around on crutches for a long time. It's always the little things that seem to come naturally that one tends to forget. I'm finding it to be a mental thing that just slipped away. A times I am a mental case.


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I think you and Julio need to talk - some of your definitions just didn't agree ("Kinesiology"?) :) :wub:


Sounds like the flexion contracture you've developed can be fixed - I've tried "walking out the flexion" with mine, so I know it's not pleasant. Believe me, you get a better cosmetic result and better range of motion if you can beat it. My knee doesn't hurt now, but it's impossible to straighten - the only option is surgery, and my prosthetist doesn't think it's likely to be successful. I could end up with a worse knee than I have now. I should talk to a surgeon, but it's hard to find time while working full time, with a husband and two young kids. I can function quite well once I have a prosthesis adjusted for it. It's not getting any worse :) , but I'll never be a runner with a knee like this :(


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LOL!!! No, I neither know those definitions by heart nor did I type them out! If you'll notice, at the very bottom of the post I put the link to where I got them. Then I simply paste-and-cut it. :P :lol: :lol: :lol:

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No cheating allowed you're supposed to type every single word and make sure it's spelled exactly right.. LOL

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Hi Julio

I've just been very sad :) & have read all your amputee definitions - they're very good.

But I'm afraid I don't agree with one of them:

Congenital Anomaly (phocomelia): a birth abnormality such as a missing limb (amelia) or deformed limb.

The 'congenital anomaly is a birth abnormaility' bit is fine, but not everyone with a congenital limb anomaly has phocomelia.

For those that are interested (and for those who like to read definitions ;) ), I've included a few below, (apologies in advance - it gets a bit technical):

Ectromelia - a gross hypoplasia or aplasia (i.e. partial absence or total absence) of one or more long bones of one or more limbs.

In turn, Ectromelia covers terms such as:

Amelia - congenital absence of all or part of a limb

Hemimelia - congenital absence or partial absence of one or more long bones in the lower leg (i.e. tibia or fibula) or forearm (i.e. radius or ulnar). Hands and feet are present on the affected side, but are often deformed.

Phocomelia - congenital absence of proximal portion of limb or limbs, with the hands and/or feet being attached to the body by a small irregular shaped bone. Often referred to as 'seal limbs'.

In the 1970's some well-intentioned international professionals got together & agreed a standard terminology for congenital limb deficiencies:

For example, hemimelia: If the tibia or radius are affected it's modern name is preaxial (tibial or radial) hypoplasia / aplasia - that's instead of tibial or radial hemimelia.

However, if the fibula or ulnar is involved it's known as postaxial (fibular or ulnar) hypoplasia / aplasia - that's instead of fibular or ulnar hemimelia. I'm sure that it was probably a good idea at the time! :wacko:

However, nowerdays, medical professionals either don't mention the name - because they probably can't remember what it's called or they 'hedge their bets' and mention a combination of old & new terms.

Mind boggling, isn't it? :blink:


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That makes sense. So, since I had no trace of a right foot, with a trans-tibial congenital limb absence, I should have been called "Amelia" :D . Or is it "pre- and post-axial hypoplasia"? Since "amelia" would usually affect both long bones, do you drop the "axial" bit altogether?

Certainly wouldn't call any daughter of mine "amelia"... luckily I have two sons and decided enough's enough!

I just say "amputee" or "congenital amputee", even though strictly speaking it's inaccurate. We all use the same technology and encounter similar problems, even though we differ in how we got here.


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Hi Kam

I did suggest that it was confusing, didn't I? ;) The pre- and post-axial 'stuff' I mentioned, just related to hemimelia & not amelia. I'm afraid I haven't got my head around the definitions of the other forms of ectromelia yet. :blink:

Because there is such a wide range of congenital limb deficiencies, I wouldn't necessarily agree with you about all sharing the same treatments & technology. Muscles as well as bones can be affected. It all depends upon what Mother Nature left you with. :)


PS You'll be pleased to hear that I didn't call my son or my daughter Amelia. :D

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I can't believe it Julio/marcus missed one Juzo!! The old stump reducing sock :D


Don't know where it fits on the list but worth a point for trying eh? :lol:

Kind regards to all insomniac amps


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And another:

Dysvascularty - is the most common reason for referral following a lower limb amputation, accounting for seventy per cent of all lower limb refferals!

http://www.nasdab.co.uk/ :D

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I have the vacuum plug on my socket and it sucks!

I can't get use to air going into the socket. I'm afraid if I ride my mule my leg is going to fall off.

I wish my legman told me that was going to change this part.

I hope he can give me a total suction socket.

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I have the vacuum plug on my socket and it sucks!

Ummm, isn't that what a vacuum is supposed to do??? :)

Sorry ... :huh:

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