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Daviddup

Find my Balance

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Hi

I have been a ABK amputee for about 3 weeks now and I am still struggling with my balance. Is this normal? I am a bit low on confidence, as I have hit the floor 3 times, once during the night got up to go to the bathroom got up I would normally do forget the leg was gone. :angry:

Thanks.

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Hi

I have been a ABK amputee for about 3 weeks now and I am still struggling with my balance. Is this normal? I am a bit low on confidence, as I have hit the floor 3 times, once during the night got up to go to the bathroom got up I would normally do forget the leg was gone. :angry:

Thanks.

I'd say yes, it's normal. It won't take long for you to get used to the fact you have a leg missing, getting up in the night and forgetting is something I did in the early days, but only did it once or twice before not forgetting again. I guess it depends on how much it hurts when you fall over whether you do it again! As for balance, I think that's normal, when you're wearing an artificial limb it'll be a lot better.

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Hi

I have been a ABK amputee for about 3 weeks now and I am still struggling with my balance. Is this normal? I am a bit low on confidence, as I have hit the floor 3 times, once during the night got up to go to the bathroom got up I would normally do forget the leg was gone. :angry:

Thanks.

Hi David,

It is great you have found this site. The folks here offer a wealth of experiences, helpful suggestions and great humor. The later is very useful in getting use to your new world.

Relearning balance is without a doubt one of the most important items to work on. I can personally relate to your issue having dumped multiple times while learning to walk again. For me I had to learn to stop thinking about multiple ideas and literally think about making one step at a time. Being a type A person it took practice to alter habits.

As to your problem about getting up at night and forgetting your leg issues - my fix was to put my crutches leaning up against the night table beside my bed. If I tried to get out of bed I would be blocked by the crutches.

Good luck!

Jane

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I think just about everyone's had the "forgot the leg was gone" experience and at least started to try and walk one-legged! Believe it or not, in time it will become one of those "funny stories" that you can chuckle over. (Yes, a sense of humor is a very useful thing for an amputee...even if it's a "warped and black" one!)

Like Jane, I keep "gear" propped up against my bed, so it acts as a reminder to "put your leg on, you fool!" when I wake up in the middle of the night.

As for the balance issue, remember that you've spent all the rest of your life basing your movement on having two legs...your body weight has been seriously altered at this point, so just keep practicing and you'll find that your balance will return. Getting a prosthesis will also help, says the woman who can't use crutches........ :biggrin:

Again agreeing with Jane, I think you may have to work on really concentrating on "taking one step at a time" in the beginning. I can warn you that it will be very frustrating at first! Then it will become "second nature" to you...and then you'll reach the point where you can go back to "just walking" without having to think about it!

Just hang in there and try to keep an upbeat attitude as much as possible...it really and truly WILL work out with time and practice. Losing a leg is a major adjustment....cut yourself some slack and give yourself the time to adjust.

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I was just talking with a new amp Sat about balance and how important it is for us. You aren't in a prosthesis yet so it will be harder. You need to practice, practice and practice some more on using your crutches or walker in the proper way. It is normal for any of us to forget that the leg is gone. I've only fallen once in the 7 years as an amp and that was getting up in the middle of night and forgetting that the leg was gone. I'm lucky that I saw it coming and was able to bend the stump back and landed on my knee.

Are you or have you had any training by a physical therapist? If not, I would go a for a few sessions. They can see what you're doing wrong and help you right it.

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Hi

I have been a ABK amputee for about 3 weeks now and I am still struggling with my balance. Is this normal? I am a bit low on confidence, as I have hit the floor 3 times, once during the night got up to go to the bathroom got up I would normally do forget the leg was gone. :angry:

Thanks.

I think initial problems with balance is pretty normal, but there are lots you can do to help with this. Hopefully you will be getting some physiotherapy and they are working on your core muscles, they are the muscles which help us the most with our balance, so talk to the physio's about this, and work as hard as you can on these exercises, don't stop either once you get your prosthesis, we always need to be working on these muscles.

Forgetting the leg is gone, is normal also, so at the moment especially, you really need to 'think' before you move, to remind your brain that the leg's not there, sometimes it's just not you forgetting, its just that the brain is programmed to 'balance us up', and its so quick you are not even thinking about it. I've had both legs amputated for over forty years now, and even now, I am very careful sitting on the edge of bed without the prostheses, I do have to concentrate, because if I slightly overbalance on one side its almost automatic to put the other side down, have only done this a couple of times, but it does hurt and not good for a new amputee, so take care.

As the others have said though, don't worry about things too much, I am sure worrying and focusing too much on the leg has an effect on pain, so go with the flow and do what your therapists advise, it is still very early days for you, you will get there and it will all become much more normal, but don't be too tough on yourself at the moment, your body has been through a lot so concentrate on the healing and perhaps taking it a bit easy before the hard work begins.

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Hello David,

Welcome to the world of amputation, not a nice place to be in but it does get better.

Low confidence: - yep we all suffer from it to start with I think it part of the “process” that we all go through in one form or another. As you move on i.e. getting your arty limb things will improve, (not sure what country you are from) so don’t know how long that will take.

Balance .again speaking as a LAK amputee myself, I found it extremely hard to find my balance straight away, I mean I had a leg for 45 years then suddenly it was gone, of course it takes a while for the body & brain to adjust. But it does.

I had my first fall on my first night at home and split my stump wide open (back to the A & E at the local hospital) I regarded this as a wake up call, life is going to be different from this point on, the first thing I learnt was to “think ahead” plan plan and plan some more, mostly small things like make sure you can get your crutches for the bathroom visit at night after a while it becomes automatic and just happens naturally.

There is a wealth of information about the process on this forum, well worth a read, but I would like to say one thing

Things might seem a bit grim at the moment but believe me they can and do get better .

Take care …….Mick

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Thank you for all the replies it is very helpful. I am working hard with a physiotherapist to get everything going. I just need to get over myself as I don't know why but I am finding it hard getting over the fact that I have lost my leg. I find it hard to have to look at my stump and find it uncomfortable when meeting up with people who did not know about my amputation and see me, the surprise on their faces and then the explanation. I currently use a wheelchair when I know I am going to be out for some time like shopping but crutch as much as possible. Maybe I sm just vain but I really feel uncomfortable with my stump

Thanks for all the advise.

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It takes some time David. I think some of your feelings are a macho thing. I don't mean anything bad by that. It's just a man's job to take care of things. Many amputees think that is not possible following an amputation. That couldn't be farther from the truth. It might take you awhile, but you'll relearn the things you want. As you get up and around on a prosthesis you'll become more confident. More confidence in yourself will put your family and friends more at ease. Most people thought I was handling mine much better than was true. I had many moments of despair. Will my life ever be normal again? Will I be able to work? Will my friends and family accept the new me? Does it embarrass my family to be seen with me? All these questions would run through my mind. I did ask my family about their thoughts of being seen with me. They assured me that it didn't bother them a bit. That was the beginning of my self-assuredness. I went back to work, got my leg, started working toward walking without a limp and, in general, taking my life back.

My life AA (After Amputation)has been far more fulfilling than my life BA (Before Amputation). I tend to give more of myself. I really enjoy visiting new amputees to show them that life is far from over. My volunteer work with the Amputee Coalition is some of the most rewarding work I've ever done. I visited a man this past weekend who was surprised that I could walk so fluidly. No limp at all. Most people to date have met very few, if any, amputees. They have a stereotyped image in mind of crutches and wheelchairs. Granted, there are still some of those out there, but there are far more who put that leg on in the morning and push it to the limit throughout the day. I use my crutches to get from the bed to shower and back. I rarely ever use a wheelchair. My leg is on 16-18 hours per day.

There's no hiding it, amputation changes your life. It's up to you how much you allow it take over. I found it easier and healthier to make jokes about it to friends and family. I might still have my emotional moments in private though. It can be very frustrating when trying to find the best way to do something you've done without a thought for years. Anything is possible with amputees now. Just take your time. Experiment with what you want to do. It will all come together with time.

I was blessed to meet a woman at the Amputee Coalition conference who put off her scheduled amputation just so she could attend the conference. She came with her husband. They were both quite scared about her future upon arrival on Wed. You could tell by Friday that both of them felt more comfortable with the decision for her to have an amputation. They were no longer scared about her abilities to do just about anything. The truth is, life as an amputee is much better for many than living with a practically useless and painful leg or foot.

The conference allows us to view amputees of all levels who are living their lives to the fullest. We have every amputation represented from only a foot or partial foot to having parts of all four limbs gone. It is always emotional for me to watch the bilateral above knees going through their bootcamp. I've had the pleasure to watch one of those guys go from total despair to being a roll model and teacher to his peers.

Sorry for the rant David. It's just something I feel strongly about. I like to see people pick themselves up and carry on with their new life as best as possible. There is a camaraderie amongst amputees in that we have been there. Most of us have experienced everything that you are now going through. There is no textbook recovery from amputation. We all have different scenarios, but in the end it's just a minor inconvenience.

Good luck and keep informing us of your progress. We like to hear progress reports.

Neal

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David, I'd say your feelings are entirely natural and I know it doesn't help now, but they are temporary. There's nothing anyone can say that will change the way you feel, it's time that heals the mind and it's just about getting used to it. It's so early for you, all I can say is that you WILL get over it, but don't beat yourself up about the way you feel now, if you didn't feel that way you'd have more to worry about... with every meet, greet and explanation it gets easier until one day you don't even think about it and those around you won't either. In all honestly I, and the people I know have forgotten about it... it pretty much never comes up in conversation. In time having an amputated leg is the same as an amputated finger, it's just a bit missing, not particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things.

Good luck getting through these early stages...

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Great posts OBL and Neal. I have been thru all of the above. People always thought I was doing better than I really was, emotionally and physically. They didn't see my times of fear and doubt. Eventually, tho, it really does all come together. Going to my first Amputee Coalition conference changed my life. I felt normal for the first time in a long time. I came away feeling more confident about who I was and what the possibilities were.

I view it as a kind of death, the death of your limb. There are stages of grief you go through and it is so normal. Be kind to yourself. What is said so often on this forum, "baby steps". One little step at a time.

I wish you all the best. It really will get better.

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This is still such a "new" thing for you...it's no doubt still a rather shocking surprise to look at where you once had a leg and now see a stump. It will take you some time to adjust...and you will adjust in time. Your stump will heal and settle down into something more useful to you, your own energy will keep increasing, you'll eventually get fitted with a useful prosthesis and be able to rely on that rather than crutches or wheelchair.

I can tell you that my one "really bad" day of looking at myself in the mirror and sobbing like a fool came on a day when I was in the physical therapy room, waiting for my session to begin. I was sitting in a wheelchair, my stump heavily bandaged and elevated, dead-center in front of the mirror. I thought it was a pathetic, hopeless picture, and I wondered what my chances for life one-legged would really be like. If I could have just curled up in a corner at that point, I probably would have done so...but then my PT was ready for me and I chocked down the tears and went to work. And you know what; "getting to work" made all the difference. It reminded me that, even though I was just days post-surgery, I was in much less pain than I had been with my useless foot. Seeing myself in that mirror, standing and doing something, was a motivation. It was really amazing just how quickly my mood and focus changed...but I learned that there would be such radical changes in my life all during my recovery. I could go from hopeless to hopeful to thrilled to bitterly disappointed, all within the span of an hour. The thing that pulled me through was continuing to "get to work" at recovery.

As long as you're working hard at your physiotherapy, you'll make it to the point where you can adjust to your new life. While you're working at it, don't be afraid to continue to get out in public in whatever way you can...just being out in the world can be a mood-elevator, and doing things you've "always done," even if you need to do them in a different way, can be a tremendous boost to your confidence. At the moment, you're spending a lot of time focusing on yourself...the more you're "out and doing," the less time you have to think about how you'll do things or how people might react. In time, you'll truly feel normal again. I can promise that.

Listen to Mick, Neal, and OBL...as guys, they can give you a good perspective, and Mick and OBL can also handle the "above-knee" amputee experience. You'll be fine. Really. Truly. Soon.

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