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Right Around the Corner, Roz!

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The adventures of Roz! I was on the edge of my seat while reading your post. So glad everything turned out okay in all instances. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, get back in the shower without grab bars. Whew....I'm tired after all that :P

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Hi all;

A couple of further developments to report!

I heard from my doctor's surgery that the main bacterium in my wound is staphylococcus aureas, fortunately not the methycillin-resistant variant, but one that is Amoxicillin-resistant, which requires treatment with Flucloxacillin instead. However, the condition of the wound was so much better by Wednesday that the doctor felt things should stay the same all week, including finishing the Metronidazole and Amoxicillin and continuing with Aquacel AG dressings.

I went for another dressing change yesterday, and there was another improvement in the wound, but still some wetness, so, since my Metronidazole had finished that morning, my doctor and I agreed that I should start a course of Flucloxacillin.

I had also intended asking my doctor when he felt the wound would be ready to have the stitches out, and when he saw it, he said immediately! Aaargh! I'd been dreading this, and had planned to dose myself up on Tramadol before letting him anywhere near my wound, especially since it still has that mega-sensitive spot!

I'd been expecting the doctor to have a look at the wound and suggest sometime early next week for stitch removal, so I hadn't taken any painkillers - I really didn't think I'd be able to take it... However, I let him start on the outside edge, and we'd see how far he could go - but I actually had nothing to worry about! I'm very fortunate that he has an excellent touch for minor surgery, and even though it took an hour, all my stitches came out with just a little wincing and sucking of teeth!

The wound looked quite different without the stitches holding it together; Where it had been wettest, the edges don't meet up, and there's a little "valley" between them. My doctor also said that he thought it wouldn't "epithelialise" because there was so much granulation tissue still on the surface.

I'd welcome your thoughts on this, as I've had wounds before with separated edges which have healed up fine, but in this case, my doctor suggested that it might need treatment with silver nitrate to cause it to epithelialise properly. From what I've heard, silver nitrate burns, and I don't think I'll be able to prevent myself from exploding if that is done to the sensitive spot on my wound! Has anyone else had to have their wound treated with silver nitrate, or some other agent, to get it to heal properly?

However, it certainly feels a lot better with the stitches out! They had been pulling in the slightly inflamed tissue along the edges, and after my first complete day on the Flucloxacillin and a good night's sleep, everything feels a great deal better!

Further developments include that I collected my Juzo yesterday and was shown how to use it, but I've been told not to use it until the infection has all gone, but the way things are looking that will be by the end of next week. When I collected it I met a class of amputees in physiotherapy, which was a new experience! There were about eight of them, all older than me, and only one woman, and an absolutely lovely bunch, collectively with an excellent sense of humour! I think I'm really going to enjoy rehab with this bunch!

Also, I will be returning to the North Hampshire Hospital on Wednesday for my bone-bridge consolidation confirmation X-ray and for my surgeon to have a general look at my stump; if all is well, not only will I begin using my Juzo, but I'll be able to start using the PPAM-aid at the end of the week! Whoo-hoo!!!!

Definate progress is most encouraging, and I feel infinitely more positive than just a week ago!

I would welcome your thoughts about the gap in my wound, though, and whether it might need some treatment to make it heal properly.

Very best wishes

Roz. :)

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Hi Roz

I've heard of silver nitrate being used for gaps in amputation wounds. It stings like hell, but it does work very well.

I personally would have it done if I were you & I'd be tempted to dose myself up on Tramadol (with Paracetamol, to potentiate the effects of the Tramadol). I may also be very cheeky & ask for some 'gas & air'...but, then I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to 'prior knowledge pain'! ;)

Take care

Lizzie :)

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Hi all;

I have undergone a Rite of Passage - my first fall!

...inevitable... That's how I've heard it described by so many, and common sense dictates that it is bound to happen - and yet there is an upside to this potentially drastic event: once you've had your first fall, you're no longer living in fear of your first fall!

...and hopefully, you can learn something about why it happened, and avoid that combination of circumstances in future...

I was doing too many things at once...

I was reclining on my bed, talking on my mobile phone to a good friend, when I realised that it was also time for another Flucloxacillin - our conversations can go on for ages, and I didn't want to mess up the medication schedule I'd planned.

So, still holding my phone (on speakerphone) in one hand, with the other I retrieved a capsule from the pack, and, clasping it in my palm, I also picked up a cup, and set off shuffling across my bed, aiming for an office chair which I have strategically positioned for multiple tasks - it's beside my mini-fridge, beside a table, and is outside my ensuite shower room (yes, that shower!), and is within easy reach of the ensuite sink - it's a vertiable command-position chair for the mobility-compromised!

So, I made it off the end of the bed and up onto my foot, then it's 2 short hops to the chair... easy - I've done it a thousand times!

...except this time, I was still talking on the phone, the cup needed to be rinsed before I used it again, but first I decided to kneel on the chair to put the antibiotic capsule down on the table. Then I just had to kneel up off the chair, turn around and sit down, put the cup in the sink, and be ready to rinse it and then take my capsule...

Well, I stood up from kneeling on the chair, turned around, reached the cup towards the sink as I went to sit - and I missed the chair...

I was horrified to find that as I accelerated downwards, I still put my stump down to support me, which just goes to show how dominant, over-learned reactions will over-ride reason in an instant. The bottom of my stump went straight down onto the front corner of one leg of the chair's 5-leg base, just as my arms met the chair's arms, and the cup clattered into the sink...

There was an explosion of pain from my stump, pain radiated up into my hip, and I couldn't breathe - I was blinded by the pain...

...meanwhile, my friend on the phone was mid-sentence while recounting an amusing anecdote to me! It took several laboured gasps from me to let him know that I'd lost the thread of the conversation!

But - bless him - having a background as a therapist, he was wonderful. He kept encouraging me to breathe deeply, instead of in traumatised gasps, and he reassuringly said that he would stay with me, and over the next few minutes with his help I regained my breath and the ability to see past the pain. Struggling to transcend my unpleasant immediate reality, I managed to stress to him that he'd been highly privileged to have witnessed my first fall, live on air, as it were, and that if I had anything to say about it, there would be no repeat performances! There certainly won't be any more while I'm using the phone, I'll see to that!

As soon as I could do more than writhe in agony, I gulped down 2 Tramadol (...and warned my friend that having done so, I would soon be incoherent - again!), and when he was sure I was OK we concluded our unusual conversation...

I tentatively examined my stump; the bottom of my stump had hit the chair-base-leg square-on, but fortunately the incision at the front had not been involved. It throbbed like hell, but it did not seem to be swelling noticeably - I'd have to wait and see whether anything bad would develop, but apart from the initial pain, there seemed to be no other adverse consequences.

The morning after, the muscle over the bone-end feels badly bruised, but nothing else malevolent has appeared, so I hope I've got away with just the pain and fright of the experience. I'll know more on Tuesday, when I'll have the dressing changed, and Wednesday, when I'll have the bone-bridge X-ray, but all feels well apart from the bruise.

I remember having similarly unpleasant experiences with my old leg, when I accidentally knocked it after it had been so badly broken, particularly at the back where the bones had come through the skin; at least those experiences taught me that it's possible for something to feel dreadful, but for little actual damage to be present.

And I suppose it's a blessing that my first fall is now out of the way, long before I'm due to be fitted for a limb - I've got 3 weeks minimum for this to settle down, during which I'll be enthusiastically applying my hard-won wisdom!

I was also fascinated to note that since my fall, I have less phantom sensation and phantom pain, but perhaps they will return as the bruise heals up; other nerves in the vicinity are probably distractingly busy at the moment!

Experience! It's what you get when you're looking for something else! I used to be able to walk and chew gum, but now it seems I can't hop, and converse, and position crockery, and turn around, and sit down, all at once - I guess I'll have to cut at least one out! :(

Best wishes all

Roz. :)

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Guest bearlover

Geez! Roz what a awful experience. :o .Hope you are taking it easy! How is your pain now? Do hope it is getting better. ;)

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I'm so sorry you fell. It's scary when it happens and I hope you're feeling much better. But I did so enjoy hearing you tell about it :)

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Hi all;

I have undergone a Rite of Passage - my first fall!

...inevitable... That's how I've heard it described by so many, and common sense dictates that it is bound to happen - and yet there is an upside to this potentially drastic event: once you've had your first fall, you're no longer living in fear of your first fall!

...and hopefully, you can learn something about why it happened, and avoid that combination of circumstances in future...

I was doing too many things at once...

I was reclining on my bed, talking on my mobile phone to a good friend, when I realised that it was also time for another Flucloxacillin - our conversations can go on for ages, and I didn't want to mess up the medication schedule I'd planned.

So, still holding my phone (on speakerphone) in one hand, with the other I retrieved a capsule from the pack, and, clasping it in my palm, I also picked up a cup, and set off shuffling across my bed, aiming for an office chair which I have strategically positioned for multiple tasks - it's beside my mini-fridge, beside a table, and is outside my ensuite shower room (yes, that shower!), and is within easy reach of the ensuite sink - it's a vertiable command-position chair for the mobility-compromised!

So, I made it off the end of the bed and up onto my foot, then it's 2 short hops to the chair... easy - I've done it a thousand times!

...except this time, I was still talking on the phone, the cup needed to be rinsed before I used it again, but first I decided to kneel on the chair to put the antibiotic capsule down on the table. Then I just had to kneel up off the chair, turn around and sit down, put the cup in the sink, and be ready to rinse it and then take my capsule...

Well, I stood up from kneeling on the chair, turned around, reached the cup towards the sink as I went to sit - and I missed the chair...

I was horrified to find that as I accelerated downwards, I still put my stump down to support me, which just goes to show how dominant, over-learned reactions will over-ride reason in an instant. The bottom of my stump went straight down onto the front corner of one leg of the chair's 5-leg base, just as my arms met the chair's arms, and the cup clattered into the sink...

There was an explosion of pain from my stump, pain radiated up into my hip, and I couldn't breathe - I was blinded by the pain...

...meanwhile, my friend on the phone was mid-sentence while recounting an amusing anecdote to me! It took several laboured gasps from me to let him know that I'd lost the thread of the conversation!

But - bless him - having a background as a therapist, he was wonderful. He kept encouraging me to breathe deeply, instead of in traumatised gasps, and he reassuringly said that he would stay with me, and over the next few minutes with his help I regained my breath and the ability to see past the pain. Struggling to transcend my unpleasant immediate reality, I managed to stress to him that he'd been highly privileged to have witnessed my first fall, live on air, as it were, and that if I had anything to say about it, there would be no repeat performances! There certainly won't be any more while I'm using the phone, I'll see to that!

As soon as I could do more than writhe in agony, I gulped down 2 Tramadol (...and warned my friend that having done so, I would soon be incoherent - again!), and when he was sure I was OK we concluded our unusual conversation...

I tentatively examined my stump; the bottom of my stump had hit the chair-base-leg square-on, but fortunately the incision at the front had not been involved. It throbbed like hell, but it did not seem to be swelling noticeably - I'd have to wait and see whether anything bad would develop, but apart from the initial pain, there seemed to be no other adverse consequences.

The morning after, the muscle over the bone-end feels badly bruised, but nothing else malevolent has appeared, so I hope I've got away with just the pain and fright of the experience. I'll know more on Tuesday, when I'll have the dressing changed, and Wednesday, when I'll have the bone-bridge X-ray, but all feels well apart from the bruise.

I remember having similarly unpleasant experiences with my old leg, when I accidentally knocked it after it had been so badly broken, particularly at the back where the bones had come through the skin; at least those experiences taught me that it's possible for something to feel dreadful, but for little actual damage to be present.

And I suppose it's a blessing that my first fall is now out of the way, long before I'm due to be fitted for a limb - I've got 3 weeks minimum for this to settle down, during which I'll be enthusiastically applying my hard-won wisdom!

I was also fascinated to note that since my fall, I have less phantom sensation and phantom pain, but perhaps they will return as the bruise heals up; other nerves in the vicinity are probably distractingly busy at the moment!

Experience! It's what you get when you're looking for something else! I used to be able to walk and chew gum, but now it seems I can't hop, and converse, and position crockery, and turn around, and sit down, all at once - I guess I'll have to cut at least one out! :(

Best wishes all

Roz. :)

Roz,

The night I came home from the hospital I was forced to use an ancient and rickety transport chair because rehab had ordered a wheel chair designed for someone weighing 300+ lbs. The foot rest did not go up easily and in tying to get out of the chair and onto the toilet I fell. And like you, Roz, I saw it all in slow motion. I saw my stump out in front of me and felt the most excuisite pain - it exploded like a mushroom cloud in my brain. I was terrified. I had to scoot across the entire bedroom to get to the phone. I was sobbing with pain and certain I had split open my incision. Speaking to my doctor calmed me down and he said with all the padding he had put in the bandage I should be OK. It was. It is truly the most painful experience I have ever had.

JudyH

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Hi gang!

Lots more developments – here goes!

My dressing-change on Tuesday was very good – the outside edges of my wound have begun closing up and closing in on the centre, which was much less gooey. There was also less of a “valley” evident too, so things looked much more as I imagined they should – most encouraging!

Then, on Wednesday I was scheduled for my follow-up appointment at the North Hampshire Hospital, where my surgeon would have a look at my stump, and it would be X-rayed too to see how my bone bridge was coming along.

On Tuesday evening I drove myself 125 miles to stay with a friend, halfway to the hospital, staying overnight before driving another 125 miles to the hospital and 125 miles back to my friend – it would be tiring after I’d been so depleted by the antibiotics.

I got to the hospital half an hour early, and hauled my wheelchair out of the back of my SUV and set it up – no mean feat when done one-legged, from crutches, and unaided, but I like a challenge! I rewarded myself with a feast of chocolate bought from the restaurant! (…OK, and a healthy sandwich too!)

Things were running late at the Fracture Clinic – my X-ray was 40 minutes later than scheduled, which pushed my actual consultation back by about an hour. Being the only amputee there, I was getting some strange looks – predictably, I suppose, as bone problems are normally removed in amputation, but my surgeon had explained to the nurses about my Ertl technique amputation, and they were most interested; this was nice, because people with fractures spoke to each other, but not to me – another interesting self-selecting division of people…

I was seen by a nurse, who looked at my wound and recommended a change in the dressings – no more Aqacel AG, but Inadine from now on – and then my surgeon exploded into the treatment room, radiating his customary smiling benevolence and optimism! What a nice man! He was genuinely disappointed on my behalf that I’d had the infection, but he seemed happy that the wound was healing well. He spotted what looked like a tiny bit of stitch left behind from the previous Friday’s stitch-removal session, and when the nurse grasped it with some tweezers, an entire inch-and-a-half stitch came out! I hadn’t even felt it, and I certainly hadn’t seen any evidence of it on Friday. He also told me that I can take a bath and can shower without covering the wound any more – yippee!!! I was given some antibacterial wash and told to dry the would with a hair-dryer, and to leave it open to the air as much as possible – this has to be progress to have reached this stage, and doing all this will surely accelerate the healing of the wound too – good news!

…but then came the bad news … Because of the infection, my bone-bridge has not fully consolidated. It is “getting there”, but is still not strong enough for the PPAM-aid. Darn it! I was given another appointment to see my surgeon in 3 weeks time, at which he smilingly said he would put my bone bridge to the ultimate test – squeezing my tibia and fibula together hard, and seeing if it hurt! As far as I’m concerned, if the bone bridge has worked and it doesn’t hurt, then he’ll still be a nice man!

I got to see my X-rays, while my surgeon described how he has developed the original Ertl technique. Bone is covered with a skin, called periosteum (literally meaning “next to bone”), and this can be manipulated as is described on the ertlreconsruction.com website, whereby a flexible osteoperiosteal graft is created between the tibia and fibula, which gradually consolidates into solid bone. My surgeon described how he found this process to be frustratingly slow to reach full consolidation, so he’s modified the technique twice since then to achieve stronger results sooner.

I’ve received his latest revision of the technique, which doesn’t rely on simply waiting for the grafted periosteum to fill with bone – but that’s all I dare say about his enterprising and eclectic approach to orthopaedic surgery! When my bone bridge has fully consolidated, it looks like it’ll be immensely strong, and I’m absolutely confident that I won’t suffer what’s described on ertlreconstruction.com as the painful side-effects of the tibia and fibula “chop-sticking” – being squeezed together or twisting in relation to each other. This was quite likely in my case, because my knee was left a little unstable by my accident, but having seen my X–rays, I’m now trying to think up ways of testing the strength of my stump!

Something I was extremely gratified to see on the X-rays was that there’s no way that my fall on Sunday could have upset the integrity of my healing bone-bridge – everything is away from the distal end of my tibia, so any damage and pain from my fall relates only to my tibia and the muscle wrapped over it – but more of this later!!!

Because it was so late when I finished my appointment I had to rush away from the hospital to beat the traffic – I was headed from Southern England into the Midlands in the late afternoon, where there is some of the highest traffic density in the world, and I wanted to meet as little of it as possible! I had dearly wanted to go up to Ward D5 to say hello to the staff who had looked after me so ably in August, but I’ll do that when I return to the hospital in 3 weeks time.

I was very tired by the time I got back to the Midlands, and my stump was very swollen from hanging down for so long during all the driving; this is because in order to make sure the infection is completely gone, I’d planned not to use any compression until I’d finished the antibiotics, which will be Friday morning. To help my stump recover I planned to take it very easy on Thursday, apart from dropping my car in at the garage to be serviced…

…any alarm bells ringing? There were for me as soon as I saw the mirror-polished black stone floor in the car showroom! It was a dismal rainy morning, so my crutch tips were very wet as I entered the showroom, and I scrubbed them hard on the mat at the doorway to dry them before venturing onto the black stone mirror. I did really well for a few feet, until my right crutch gracefully glided away to the side, and I descended – Bang! – onto my stump…

Wearing a big waterproof jacket and carrying 2 bags suspended by shoulder-straps, I was really lucky to have avoided turning into a clattering shambles on the shiny floor amidst the shiny cars – somehow the levitation that I’d developed in the shower took effect again, and without pausing in my forward motion, I recovered my lost altitude seamlessly, and proceeded uneventfully to the service desk. None of the staff had seen my painful downward bob, so I decided to keep it a secret in case they decided I shouldn’t be given a loan car! After all, appearing with a limb missing could raise eyebrows by itself, so I could hardly make waves! I left in a brand new loaner, heading for my nearest friend, where I could let out the scream I’d saved from the showroom, and gulp down some painkillers…

It wasn’t as hard a fall as I’d had on Sunday, but it topped up the bruise very satisfactorily! I called my limb centre to pursue the stump protector they had suggested when I first saw them; it had been put on hold until my bone bridge was known to be coming along, but I simply have to have something to minimise the risk of this happening again during the next 4-5 weeks before I get a leg! If I have to, I’ll make something myself – I have visions of a flower-pot tied onto my leg with string, with bits of foam rubber trying to escape! I’m not proud – I’ll go to any lengths to stop my stump imitating a pile-driver!

I have ordered some of Keen Mobility’s “Aventure” crutch tips, which claim great things, and they have to be better than the tips on my 10-year-old elbow-crutches, but until the Keens arrive, I’ve cut some grooves into them to give them a better chance of gripping any polished glass I might find myself walking across! Now, all I need is the right-sized flower-pot..!

Onwards and Ouchwards!

Best wishes

Roz. :)

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Wow, Roz. I remember that first time I was told I could finally get my stump wet. For me, that was definitely a milestone. I'll bet that your healing will really accelerate now that you can get some air to it. Congrats on your recent excursions. You are awesome! :D :D

I'd be interested to know what you think of the Adventure tips. I am hoping to be able to order new crutches with those tips soon.

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Wow Roz,

your posts do make scarey reading, I never know what to expect. You really should take more care, my heart can't take much more. :blink:

When I had my first fall and my stump made contact with the floor first , I think the whole country would have heard me scream, you must have a very strong will to have kept it a secret from the garage staff.

Glad things are progressing well on the infection and bone bridge front, hope you manage to keep safe during the next tree weeks until you get back to the hospital for the xrays. They sooner you get that plant pot fitted the better :lol: :lol:

Why are you using 10 year old crutches? Are you mad ?:o Didn't they give you a new pair following surgery or at least check the ferrals on them for good grip. I change the ferrals on mine at least three times a year, they always need changing as they end up completely smooth. Hope you get you new super grip ferrals soon, I'm sure a local hospital will give you new ones 'basic ones' until they come. Remember though that there is no such thing as a slip proof crutch, crutches and wet surfaces don't mix well! Oh and with Autum approaching remember...beware wet leaves from fallen trees....very dangerous!

You worry me, I wonder what you will be doing next..... :huh: please take care.

Lynne

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Hi Shane;

Yes - everything feels much more positive now! I'll certainly be writing all about the Aventure crutch tips as soon as possible - they certainly look great, and our friend Sam recommends them highly too!

Hi Bearlover;

Thank you for your support and encouragement! I seem to blunder through life, seeking the best interpretation of the nonsense I live, and being cheered-on from time to time is really helpful! Bless you!

Hi Lynne;

Thanks for your thoughts, and apologies for scaring you! It's worse for me, though - I have to live with me!

I must confess, Lynne, that your fall is etched in my mind, and I feel for you every time falling comes to mind; neither of my falls have been anything like as severe as yours, yet they've been extremely unpleasant, which only serves to illustrate how bad a fall could be, and, indeed, was for you - I only hope you've managed to overcome the trauma of it all.

Thanks for the warning about wet leaves - that's also a biker's caveat!

Great news - my limb centre have made an appointment to make a stump-protector for me! :D :D :D

It'll be on Monday morning, and I can't wait.

I'll also start using my Juzo after that - one thing my limb centre mentioned was a concern that my stump might swell up, and I wouldn't be able to get a stump-protector off, so if I hold off using my Juzo, my stump will be as swollen as it's ever likely to be when the protector is made, and will only shrink from then on with Juzo use - problem solved.

Later, people!

Roz. :)

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How I love the adventures of Roz :)

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Dude! B)

It should be apparent from my posts that no matter how hard I try to be cool, I end up being slap-stick! :huh:

...so I'll settle for almost sounding cool!

I'm back in Basingstoke on 4th October - where are you then? Fancy a coffee at the North Hampshire Hospital?!? I can almost guarantee that I won't be cool!

Roz. :)

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Dude! B)

It should be apparent from my posts that no matter how hard I try to be cool, I end up being slap-stick! :huh:

...so I'll settle for almost sounding cool!

I'm back in Basingstoke on 4th October - where are you then? Fancy a coffee at the North Hampshire Hospital?!? I can almost guarantee that I won't be cool!

Roz. :)

Dudette!!!

I'll be back in UK on the 20th September so coffee on the 4th October is a done deal! I actually think you are cool...You have a great attitude towards your situation and always seem positive.

That in my eyes is COOL. B)

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Hey Roz,

It is great to hear of your improving recovery. Best wishes!

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Hi all!

An update is way overdue, and there are some significant events on the way, so it's time to catch up before a new phase begins.

I had to let a certain anniversary pass by before I wrote again - the anniversary of my bike crash. October 5th is the date, and while the trauma and the sense of being wronged by the idiot who caused my accident are now faded into ancient history, in deference to Shane's excellent post, it's also the anniversary of the day I DID die - and the experience was completely, unbelievably, and totally positive...

If you're not into esoteric stuff, feel free to skip to the end, but I genuinely had a near-death experience, and as it has been prominent in my life again of late, I thought I'd share it with you.

Everything leading up to my near-death experience was unremarkable, and would be familiar to most of the bike crash survivors out there - I was scraped up off the road, ambulanced to hospital, stabilised, and taken to the operating theatre so they could do something about my badly broken ankle and pelvis. They gave me the usual general anaesthetic on the way to the theatre, but I woke up from it, to hear the surgeon yelling at the nurses for failing to remove the silver chain from around my neck! I sympathised with them - it was 2:00 am, after all! I was given another dose of general anaesthetic, and was relieved to return to unconsciousness, away from the pain of my many fractures...

...and then I found myself in an amazing situation. I found that I was just a point of consciousness, surrounded by darkness; I seemed to be aware in all directions all at once, seeing omni-directionally, not just in front of me, and all my senses seemed to work in the same way - all around me at once. I also found that I was able to be objective about my unusual situation - "Well, this is interesting!" I thought to myself, and as soon as I'd finished thinking the words, I noticed a change...

A light had begun fading up very gradually all around me, and while I knew I wasn't moving, it felt like I could have been. At that moment I knew and accepted that I was dead, I also knew in a strange and detached way that my parents would be terribly upset, but I also knew that there was nothing I could do about it - I knew my parents would recover, but such matters were now a part of a realm of which I was no longer a part - I was on my way to somewhere completely different. I also found I had stopped thinking in words - I seemed to be feeling impressions, instead...

The light continued to get brighter and brighter all around me, and as it did so, I felt a growing sense of euphoria and exhileration, and an awareness of increasing understanding and wisdom about the entire universe. At a point where the light had become very, very bright and seemed to have developed a texture, I knew with absolute certainty that there were no such things as mass, length, or time, and that the entire universe was united in a single, beautiful thought; I knew with absolute certainty that I was connected to everything, everywhere in the universe, from the most distant past and into the infinite future - it was an incredible feeling - and then it stopped...

The journey I had taken up through the light reversed in exactly the same way as it had proceded, but as the light grew dimmer and faded down, I found that the sense of delight and exhileration stayed with me on my way back; I found myself back at the point where I could think in words, and there were some words waiting there for me - "The only thing you take with you is the happiness you give to others," and then - clunk! I was back in ordinary unconscousness... I awoke momentarily as I was being wheeled, in a bed, into the dark and silent trauma ward.

Initially, I rejected my experience, because I simply couldn't understand any aspect of it - apart from one thing: that death is a beautiful, positive, enlightening experience, and I've never feared it since. I accepted that it had never been my decision to go there of stay here, and that having been allowed to return from my experience, I had to make my life count for something good! I now knew what mattered in life.

I recall it all every October 5th, particularly the perspective issue - how good has my life been? Have I fulfilled my potential for good? It was an experience that I certainly hadn't sought, and I couldn't understand why something so overwhelming should have happened to me, but it's probably caused me to behave better than I otherwise would have! And it is strange, on the anniversary of a huge trauma, to find myself reflecting upon such esoteric issues rather than on the trauma itself, and it's also strange to know that I couldn't have had such a wonderful, enlightening experience without also undergoing the trauma. God does indeed move in mysterious ways!

OK - back to the real world - for another year!

As soon as my infection was cleared, I got my stump-protector. It was basically a socket-like plaster cast made by a prosthetist at my limb centre, and it's very effective. It was cast around my leg, along with a foam disc that was shaped to cushion the bottom of my stump, and a gel pad over my sensitive spots, which were both held in place by a nylon stump sock. I use the nylon sock to hold the foam disk and the gel pad in place, and then don the stump-protector, which is held on with a thigh-strap.

I feel indestructible when wearing it! The only problem is that I can't wear the stump-protector and use my OneCrutch, as it requires a kneeling action, which is uncomfortable whilst wearing the stump-protector, and which will also break the plaster. I had wanted to use the OneCrutch more, as regular elbow-crutches really hurt my hands these days - any suggestions as to how regular elbow-crutches can be made easier on the hands?

Another complication has been that I began using my Juzo at the same time as I got the stump-protector, so my stump immediately shrank a lot, leaving the stump-protector very loose! Ho-hum! How many daft complications can I experience at once?!?

I also received the Keen Aventure crutch tips I'd bought online, and they do seem to be a huge improvement over regular ones - although they're not entirely slip-proof on wet surfaces. I do feel a lot more confident using my crutches when fitted with the Aventure tips, and I'm sure that the small degrees of slipping I have experienced with them would have resulted in my being dumped on the ground again if I'd been using regular crutch tips. Verdict - recommended, but not fool-proof! I'm glad I've got them.

I'm now down to a Medium sized Juzo, and while my physiotherapist was checking the fit, I asked her about adhesions. It seems that because I've had the infection, I do have an adhesion - my incision has adhered to my tibia. She told me how to massage the area to break down the adhesion, and she explained that this is important, because when I do get my first leg, the upward pulling on the skin will be much more painful with that adhesion.

I would welcome hearing of any experiences with breaking down adhesions - how much did you massage them? How long for each day? How long did it take to break them down sufficiently to no longer be a problem?

I need to deal with this quickly, as I'm off to Basingstoke on Wednesday (11th) for my (hopefully) definitive appointment with my surgeon - I hope my Ertl will be given the all-clear, so I can begin using the PPAM-aid - yahoo! But I've already made an apointment at my limb centre to see me the following Monday, when they'll hopefully cast me for my first leg! My physiotherapist is on stand-by, to train me up on all the relevant practices... I'm sure it'll fly by, but I really, really can't wait to be walking again!

I'll keep you updated!

Very best wishes

Roz. :)

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WOW!! What an experience Roz. I can't imagine any of this, but you have described it perfectly. I only got as far as the "Mad Hatters Tea Party", but that is another story.

You mention the cast on your leg giving you security. I was walking through the house on my crutches, (under arm), when my cast fell off. My stump had finally shrunk and it just slipped. I stood there with my stump "naked" for the first time, and didn't know whether to yell, cry or laugh. I pictured my whole body draining out through the "hole" in the bottom of my leg where it had been cut off. I have seen a lot in my life time, but believe me, for an instant there, I experienced one of the most frightning feelings I had known. It was all new and I had no idea what was going to come next, and it was out of my control.

My body didn't drain, and nothing monumental happened, but for a brief........ oh well, you get the picture.

I have a pair of forearm crutches, but never use them. I haven't had to used my crutches in years, but when I do, I prefer the underarm. I just feel more secure with them. But the hands still come very much into play. The underarm is there just to "guide" the crutch and not to support. All weight goes on the hands, and up the arms to the shoulders, so that probably won't be of any more help to you.

It sounds like you are doing fabulous. Thanks for keeping us up to date. I hope that you are keeping a journal. This will make a great story someday.

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Guest bearlover

All I can say is WOW! What a experience. Thanks so much for sharing! You have had a incredible experience. I have heard others explain the death experience almost the same way.. So happy you made it through and that you are still with us..Again thanks for sharing your remarkable experience!! Your a awesome person!

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Thanks for sharing such an incredible experience, Roz. It gave me goosebumps.

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Hi all;

I’m walking!!! I have a leg and I’m walking!!!

Life has been insanely busy since my last update – I saw my surgeon to make sure my Ertl was OK, I began walking with the PPAM-aid, I was cast for my first leg, and just 3 days ago I received my first leg, and consequently I’ve now begun a whole new journey… and in the midst of all this, I was given a huge promotion at work, which results in 12-hour days and working at 4 sites, 2 of which are building sites – ulp! Navigating broken ground and debris on my OneCrutch has been kinda scary, but – like so many challenges – it’s probably done me no harm at all! To my dismay, being so busy has also kept me from posting regularly, but here’s the nitty-gritty…

Seeing my surgeon was completely straightforward, and entirely positive. He really liked the look of my stump, although the scar still looks a bit alarming! This is probably a legacy of it having being infected and the stitches being left in for a month, but I imagine it'll fade into insignificance with time. But he said the shape was great, and it had greatly reduced in volume since he’d last seen it.

Then my surgeon did his threatened Ertl test, squeezing my stump’s tibia and fibula together – very hard - from several angles - and apart from the pressure of his hands, there was no pain at all from the bones. Test passed! He said that my stump was definitely ready for a limb, which was music to my ears! Immediately after the appointment I called my limb centre and my physiotherapist to make sure they were ready for me to rush into proper rehab, but I had already set up appointments with both, so I began with the PPAM-aid at physiotherapy only two days later, and saw my limb centre the following Monday, to be cast for my first leg.

I found the PPAM-aid to be a strange thing, and not particularly helpful! I was well accustomed to being upright and walking (after a fashion!) because I've been very active using my One-Crutch, so the walking aspect with the PPAM-aid came really easily, but it felt unnatural having no choice but to keep my leg straight at the knee. I found the PPAM-aid frame to be amazingly heavy and cumbersome, and the shoulder-strap kept slipping off, and using it caused quite a lot of discomfort in my stump, but I was pleased to have advanced to the stage where I was putting weight through my stump, as opposed to my bent knee, as with the OneCrutch.

On my first session, whilst my physiotherapist wasn’t looking, I took a few steps in the PPAM-aid without holding the rails at all - what a great feeling! However, they only let me go up and down the parallel bars three times, apparently to prevent phantom pains being triggered, but I did indeed get a few more phantoms that evening. At the next session I did about 16 trips up and down the parallel bars, and the physiotherapist changed me over to using reciprocal gait – left hand then right leg, right hand then left leg, which involved much less weight being taken through my hands, and even though this was much harder work and strained my stump more, I only got the same phantoms later as I’d had after my first session. I spent even more time in the bars the next time, and was relieved to get fewer phantoms later, and at my fourth session – which was to be my final one – I took things a bit more easily, because I didn't want to strain anything before getting my first leg…

I went to the limb centre after my first PPAM-aid session, and they cast me then for my first leg. My prosthetist and the limb centre manager decided to give me an upgraded foot for my first leg - an Endolite Navigator. I was told that with the Navigator, the flexion at the ankle is lower down than the MultiFlex foot (which had originally been planned for me), and is therefore more anatomically correct, and that it’s lighter than the MultiFlex. I was given an appointment for 10 days later to return and be given my leg, and I could not imagine how I’d have the patience to wait that long!

Then leg day finally came! I’d been really careful to avoid falling before this day, which had not been easy, as I’d been required by work to visit 2 building sites, both of which had badly damaged floors; I felt it was prudent to avoid descending into the cellar of one site, because while the OneCrutch enhances mobility and frees-up a hand, it’s less stable than elbow-crutches in episodes of tripping or stumbling.

I arrived at the limb centre early, and was shown into a large room with 2 sets of parallel bars, and my leg was waiting, propped against a low table – it was a magical sight! It’s a white supracondylar socket with a pelite liner, a carbon-fibre pylon, and the Navigator foot, but sadly none of its clever features were visible past the foot shell. My prosthetist arrived, and we began experimenting with socks and alignment. As my stump had continued to shrink since casting, I ended up wearing a thicker sock with the terry side outer-most, as this was most comfortable against my skin. The pylon also had to be shortened early on, and I noted that the main area of adjustment was the interface between the base of the socket and the top of the pylon, which had to be visited 3 times.

As I’d read many times in the forum, it was impossible to know what to expect, impossible to know how my first socket should feel, but after the 3rd adjustment and my 3rd trip between the parallel bars, using the leg suddenly felt much easier. There were two things I hadn’t been ready for – firstly, how much strength I would need in my quadriceps, and secondly, how uncomfortable it would be!

I will wait with great interest to see whether the technique I’ve had to learn will be required for future legs, but I was fascinated to discover how working to keep my leg straight was essentially the key to walking with my first prosthesis; this was really difficult at first, with my quads having become so lazy, but they have risen to the challenge!

As regards the discomfort, my prosthetist recommended that I try putting a 4-inch square gel pad over my scar, and this really helped. It was a little alarming, however, to feel such enormous pressures being applied to bits of my stump as I walked! I was concerned for it, but it seemed to survive!

A slightly odd but very positive event occurred at the limb centre – the consultant in charge came to see me, and I think he thought I was a different patient! He asked me how I was getting on with my prosthesis, and even though it had only been a couple of hours, I was most encouraged, so I cheerfully said “Fine, thanks!” He then asked to see me walk in the parallel bars; I didn’t need to be asked twice, and I sprang into my reciprocal gait walk, after which the consultant told me to use just my left hand, resting on his finger, as he moved it along the left bar. I hadn’t planned on being adventurous, but I managed the task – so well, that the consultant then asked me to walk without touching the bars! Well, he was the boss, and as he seemed to think I would be able to walk unaided, I imagined he must be right! To my own surprise, I managed it just fine, but then I think the consultant caught sight of the slightly aghast expressions of my prosthetist and the limb centre manager, and he asked in a slightly unbelieving tone, “…is this your first day walking with a prosthesis?”, to which my prosthetist replied, “…first – ever!” …there was a slightly odd silence… But, as I was still upright and grinning, even if I’d been mistaken for a more advanced patient, the outcome had been entirely positive, so we were all happy!

After over 3 hours at the limb centre, and having promised my prosthetist that I would refrain from wearing my leg until my physiotherapist had coached me on which muscles to use and how, I took my new leg away from the limb centre, enthralled at having walked for the first time in 11 weeks, and really looking forward to the future!

The following day at physiotherapy, my muscles successfully continued learning how to walk – I found it very strange at first, having to do such different things with my amputated side than my other side, in order to make them work the same way! After a session in the parallel bars I was given 2 walking sticks and was walked around the floor, and I wore the leg again that evening, briefly walking without sticks – it was wonderful!

Today, I’ve walked without sticks for 20 minutes, checking my gait in a mirror, and it seems OK, and I’ve found that with care I can avoid limping – but at this early stage I won’t do too much outside physiotherapy, as I won’t be able to see whether I’m developing bad habits. I’m absolutely delighted to be walking unaided on only my 3rd day with a prosthesis! It certainly hurts a bit with the first few steps, but I’m very encouraged at how the pain goes away after only a few steps; I eventually become aware of pressure at my kneecap and the back of my knee, and this is my cue to stop and rest. Tomorrow I’ll be wearing my leg for 2 sessions of 90 minutes, increasing, as is the custom, by a further 30 minutes each session each day.

I must share a very odd insight – I moved into my current house after my amputation, and have spent a lot of time in the house in my wheelchair; it’s very strange suddenly seeing everything from standing and walking height – it all looks very different! I guess this isn’t surprising, as when I’m walking with my leg on, I feel ten feet tall!!!

Oh, yes, another thing – since I began walking again, I’ve found myself falling asleep grinning with sheer joy! Life is very, very good!

Very best wishes

Roz. :D :D :D

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Hi all;

I’m walking!!! I have a leg and I’m walking!!!

Roz. :D :D :D

That is great good luck keep up the hard work

Skully Cat

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That's great Roz, you are going great and really busy with those 12 hour shifts.

No wonder you haven't replied to my email! :D

Lynne

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