Of course a list of 10 for Sept. 10th...
1) I'm getting much more independent around the house. My right leg continues to get stronger with my therapy so I've been using it to help scoot me around. I use my left arm for guidance on the wheel and I can generally get almost anywhere on our first floor. Our first floor happens to be a dream for a wheelchair as it has wide doors, wide passages all around our kitchen island, master bed and bath on the main floor...who knew how important this would all be when we moved in two and a half years ago! The house we lived in before was called a front to back split level which means stairs everywhere. Would not have been very wheelchair friendly. I love my new independence, being able to do things for myself and the kids without having to constantly ask for assistance.
2) I tried my first official shower with the approval of my doctor. This endeavor included a double trash-bagged, duct-taped right leg to ensure the wound and dressings stayed completely dry. Once that was complete, I thought the worst was over. Nope. The entire time I was in fear something would happen where I would slip and hurt my amputated leg on the tile floor. I've heard a fall like this is horrific and I couldn't get it out of my mind. I hope future showers emulate the exhilarating oasis I imagined, but for now I have a new respect for the sponge bath - ha! I'm sure I'll take another trash-bag run here soon though... :)
3) I'm working with an awesome Prosthetist for my prosthetic. He is part of a company called Hanger Inc which is "the world's premier provider of prosthetic and orthopedic products and services" (straight from their website). This team is affiliated with my doctor and clinic and have done some amazing cases. They ask you a variety of lifestyle questions, gain a detailed understanding of your particular medical case, reference which products have worked well in previous cases, etc to recommend which prosthetic choices would work well for you. I'll explain more about the entire process as it unfolds. For today, I wanted to share the fun fact regarding Hanger Inc. The company was founded by J. E. Hanger, the first amputee of the US Civil War. He endured his injury from a battlefield cannonball incident just two days after leaving college to join his brothers in the war. Upon returning home, he locked himself in solitude and created a prosthetic leg known as "Hanger's Limb". His design and overall approach revolutionized the industry. Google him to learn more - he has an interesting story and his legacy thrives today, over 150 years later.
4) Last Friday I spent about four hours at the orthopedic doctor's office, including a visit to the hand clinic (yes there is such a place). Since it had been almost four weeks since my original surgery, they changed my arm splint freeing up most of my finger movement. My main injury was to one of nine tendons that go to the thumb, as well as some nerve damage in the same area. The tendon and nerves were repaired and have healed enough to allow for active therapy so I have a new hand workout regime. There were also several lacerations to the back of my forearm but thankfully they didn't seem to have caused any real issues. The current prognosis for my hand is all clear for my fingers. For my thumb, I may not have 100% nerve feeling (hot, cold, etc) but am expected to regain full functionality. Yeah! I might just have to include a thumb-war tourney in my 2014 potential parties line-up. My thumb has been working out you know...
5) My skin graft surgery for the wound on my right leg is tomorrow. (Editor's Correction! Surgery is actually Thursday - made a mistake in the original post). They've decided to do the surgery as an outpatient procedure vs requiring a hospital stay. They will take a thin layer of skin from my right thigh. Expected to feel like a bad sunburn. Will get the wound vac back for a week. If you don't mind, my specific prayer request right now would be for a successful surgery and recovery, and no infection. Thank you!!
6) You might recall me mentioning strong nerve-based sensitivity to my stump, such as tazers and lighting bolts. They said those feelings will eventually burn themselves out with enough regular sensation. I was told to try and massage the area as much as possible, applying various pressures and textures to desensitize it. This will be important to make the prosthetic fittings and leg use more comfortable. I'm getting there...the level of sensitivity has decreased dramatically. With that said, I was relieved when my doctor offered to take out the stitches while I'm in the OR anyway for the skin graft vs in the office cold turkey last Friday. Yes please!
7) A few factoids on prosthetics...50% of a amputees are between the ages of 21 and 65; the 100 meter sprint record held by Usain Bolt is 9.58 seconds - Oscar Pistorius, a double leg amputee, ran the same distance in only 10.91 seconds at the Paralympics in 2007; "prosthetic" in Greek means "addition".
8) I am getting more and more used to public outings. Went to Mitchell's flag football game Saturday morning. Mom took me to get my hair done today (which was a 5-star experience...forgot how great it felt to have my hair pampered like that!). Some people do stare a bit but for the most part people have been excellent, offering to help open doors and such. Best way to be is just to treat me and people in situations like mine as normal as possible.
9) My kids and I have been watching the movie Dolphin Tale all week (starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick...you might remember it - I had never seen it). It is based on a true story about a dolphin named Winter who was found with an injured tail from a crab trap. The tail gets infected and has to be amputated. With some happenstance relationships and coaxing, Winter ends up getting the first-ever prosthetic tail. After several failed attempts, they find one that the dolphin likes and is able to use. Coincidentally, the silicon solution used on Winter changed the common approach to human prosthetics. I actually get to meet the doctor who made Winter's prosthetic next month as he is consulting with my doctors that week which is a regular practice in this field. Anyway, my kids have loved this movie. Mitchell has really connected the dots, Morgan just likes the dolphin. Either way it's made for good snuggling. There are also several books on the subject. My cousins brought by a book about a horse named Molly who had to get a prosthetic leg. Mitchell loves books so this has been read many times this week. He has clearly processed all of this information as he came up to me the other day holding a leg that had fallen off a stuffed animal caterpillar (that has 20 legs) and said, "hey Mom, this is a prosthetic leg for a caterpillar". Amazed me and totally cracked me up. I'm going to add a photo of this caterpillar to the photo section. It has a long legacy in our family as my Gramps bought it for me as a kid and my sister and I have joked for years about the mystery of the 20th leg coming off.
10) As you might know this last Sunday was Grandparent's Day. I'm so thankful for the grandparents I have. I have different facets of who I am I can trace back to each of them. And good news for me, they all had tough genes as I'm calling on that DNA now. I'd also like to say how thankful I am for my kids' grandparents. Let me put it this way...they couldn't be luckier.
That's the latest news. Thank you all for everything!! The prayers from last week for emotional strength for Aaron and I were awesome - it has been a great week! (not to say the "tear bag" or "emotional garbage" won't have to be emptied periodically with a good cry - got those terms from your messages to me by the way :).
I hope you all are having an awesome week too. I'm sure none of us will have to look far for perspective tomorrow as it is September 11.
Once again, don't know what I'd do without you guys.