Sunday, June 30, 2013

Appointment with Dr. Attinger Tomorrow

Amputee thank you cookies!

Tomorrow morning is our first follow-up appointment with Dr. Attinger and his team at Georgetown University Hospital.  The objective?  Look at the stump.  We'll likely get x-rays, remove a couple of sutures (which I will record, of course), and determine whether I'm still on target for that August 1st inaugural walk with a new leg.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is finally getting my hands on the pictures that were taken at key moments during my amputation.  One of Dr. Attinger's residents was equally pumped about the shots he got when he described them to us during one of our dressing changes at the hospital.  The blog post with these pictures will more than likely not be safe for Troy (#NSFT).  

If all goes well, I'll get these pictures, along with detailed descriptions, on the blog tomorrow evening.

Brooke ran in the rain and then got her bake on.  She rocks.

Since this is our first return trip to the hospital, Brooke and I are working on a gift basket for the nurses and other awesome caretakers.  We're using the one-legged cookie cutter we got from the leg's going away party to bake some cookies for the small group that took care of me during my stay.

It's become a tradition that after each surgery I create Thank You cards for everyone that's provided awesome support to us during the recovery.  The rest of my evening will be spent writing notes to the nurses, doctors, nurse techs and aides.

The Sixteen Things, Part One

This ends in a brain freeze or a melted mess.

We're two weeks out from my below-knee amputation.  It's supposed to be a life changing event.  But up to this point it's felt more like a routine tonsillectomy without all the ice cream  seriously, where is all of the amputation ice cream?

Since we've said our goodbyes and cut my leg off, I've had an opportunity to contemplate, ruminate, and other words that mean think about the permanent changes you get with the loss of a limb (I could have also gone with brainstorm, ponder, or even muse).

I enjoy brainstorming while taking opiates.  And I also enjoy lists.  I've classified my amputation pondering  my amputee ponders  into four categories.  

The four categories are as follows:

  • Things I'm Going To Miss
  • Things I'm Loving
  • Things I'm Hating
  • Things I Cannot Wait To Do

As I was writing down my musings, I realized how ambitious this thing had become.  I'm a slow methodical writer and even slower meticulous editor.  To buy me some time (I started writing this eight hours ago), I've broken this whole concept up into a four part series  a first for this blog.  Four parts for each of the four lists.

But don't allow yourself to think I'm planning ahead here.  I walked several blocks into this post before I realized I was lost.  Here's part one.

Five Things I'm Going To Miss

In the last few weeks I've been longing for some things that I'll never do for the rest of my life (a phrase I now find myself using a lot).  Walking in sand may have shown up here if it wasn't for our good friends bringing us a box of sand to the leg's going away party.  Here are five things I'll miss.

1. Quick Showers

I no longer stand in the shower.  With my previous surgeries, we'ed a temporary shower chair and threw it away once one of my external fixators was removed.  But our last purchase was not temporary.  If I really wanted to stand with a below-knee amputation, there are expensive shower legs, but hygiene is an issue.  My residual limb must stay clean and infection free.  Shower legs cover it up.  And insurance has a hard time seeing these special purpose legs as medically necessary  another phrase I'll end up using a lot for the rest of my life.

Travelling is also complicated.  Specifically, hotels (or motels, if you're my Mom).  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, hotels built after 1993 are required to provide a small percentage of rooms with roll-in showers.  The roll-ins provide handheld showerheads but may or may not have a bench.  

One leg, plus no shower chair, plus no handheld showerhead adds up to a bad idea.  The days of convenient travel or waking up late for work and jumping in the shower are gone. 

2. Laziness and Eating Bad/Awesome Food

There's nothing I loved more than a lazy Sunday.  Sitting on the couch.  Interneting and ESPN-ing.  Somewhere between the end of the second and beginning of the third Sports Center I'd decide to investigate the refrigerator situation for some Chinese food, a leftover reminder of a detour I'd taken while returning home from last night's bad decisions.

With my amputation, I cannot afford lazy Sundays.  And let's be honest, I couldn't afford to spend almost every night of my life as if it were a lazy Sunday.  This cost me days living on Earth.  That's slightly more expensive than leftover Chinese food or a good burger.

This is a dramatization, of course.  Before you get upset, Mom and Dad, I didn't actually live like this (after around 2008).  What I'm trying to say is I ate poorly and I rarely exercised.

Moments of clarity: Aaron Hernandez is on my keeper league team.

Like everyone else, I've had moments of clarity before.  They never lasted long.  Laziness is easy.  But earlier this year, I had one of these moments, and it wasn't just a realize-and-forget-it moment.  I acted.  Along with my awesome wife, we revamped our diet.  After I lost some weight, I added regular gym visits.  Over five months I dropped 27 lbs  225 to 198.  

I've told this story a few times already.  And I don't want to wear it out by repeating it.  But I've never told you why I really changed my life five months before my amputation.

It was a test.

I wanted to prove to myself I was serious about my decision to remove my right leg below the knee for the rest of my life.  If I couldn't make such a small change to become healthy, then I clearly wasn't ready for the hard work, pain, and emotional challenges shipped with an amputation package.

I never doubted my decision.  I just doubted whether I'd be responsible for my decision.

3. Dominating the Dance Floor

I love weddings.  The artisan dinner menu, assigned seating, the nuptials  the pomp and circumstance of it all, really  it's all butterflies and warm fuzziness.  But after the newlyweds dance, and Mom and Dad finish warming up the dance floor with their son and daughter, it's time for this snowboarder to shred in his suit and dress shoes.  This is why I love weddings.

Granted, most of my moves these days are above the waist, though I did whip out an awesome push-up move at my most recent booking.  I used to rely heavily on my elbows, but my moves have matured.  I've got the lasso, the elaborate two-shooters-blow-the-smoke-and-holster move (something I've featured on not one, but two different stadium jumbotrons), and a bow and arrow.  While that sounds like a complete repertoire, I used to have more in my satchel.

My accident and amputation may very well put an end to my razzle/dazzle days.

Fortunately some of the epicness has been recorded for all of history to remember on YouTube.  A talented friend of mine, Jonathan Pierce, choreographed an intricate Riverdance-style caper where I exhibited my moves as one of the three main dancers  all for a football pep rally.  At the 18 second mark you'll see a picture of me on the right.  That's me as we march out to the center of the court.  Jonathan's impossible to miss.  He's the main event.

We worked hard on this dance for several weeks.  I remember wearing ankle braces on both feet after a few days just to keep up with Jonathan.  That man is a machine.  But in all seriousness, I'm not going to miss dancing.  I just wanted to show you this video.

4. Crossing My Legs

Just one of many leg crossing techniques.

This one is very simple but so satisfying.  Do me a favor.  During a typical day, count how many times you cross your legs.  I did it all the time, usually when I was trying to relax and take it easy.  I'd even cross my legs at my ankles in bed when falling asleep.

Right over left.  It was a huge source of comfort for me.

5. The Last Three Years

I had my accident in February 2010, a few days before my 28th birthday.  Much of the last three years was spent recovering, crutching around in a bear trap, or walking in pain.  It was difficult to be a good friend and a good husband.  My ankle kept me anchored at home on my butt.

I stopped going to several annual trips with some good friends.  I stopped answering text messages and phone calls because I was tired of having to decline on account of my arthritis.  I ended up missing out on many opportunities to enjoy my awesome friendships.  This was a big contributing factor to my decision to get an amputation.

And while I'll always miss those chances to be with friends and loved ones, I still wouldn't change anything.  Snowboarding into a tree ended up strengthening my marriage with my amazing wife, Brooke.  It happened only two years after we got married and added additional stress to our relationship.  It obviously continues to do so, I depend on her for so much right now.  But we somehow ended up in a better place because of all of this.

I owe Brooke so much.  Like, at least 40 bucks.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Phantom Pain and #NSFT Pictures

A week after my amputation, I began to experience uncomfortable nerve pain in my residual limb.  It started off as a steady and continuous tingling sensation over my entire stump  as if the limb was a funny bone that had just been smacked.  Only without any of the associated pain from hitting your funny bone.  

Over the following day or two the nerve pain escalated.  I began to realize it was phantom limb pain.  It's difficult to describe how it feels.  It's occasional but quick burning, electric, stabbing pain.  It's like going from zero to 100 mph in a split second.  Then it's as if nothing happened.

Today the nerve pain quieted down, making it a little easier to describe.  Every few minutes I feel like my big toe is crushed or the right side and bottom of heel is being burned and electrocuted.  And again, it comes and goes very quickly.

The good news is this pain is expected to diminish once I get into a prosthetic limb.  And even if it didn't, I'd trade this pain for what I had before my amputation in a heartbeat.

It's weird but fascinating.  I'm looking forward to spending more time describing this sensation.  But in the meantime, here are the pictures of the limb from yesterday. 

An Amazing Blog Post Comment

I started this blog for a number of reasons.  One of them was to have a good excuse to write funny things.  Actually, that was one of the main reasons.

Most of my friends accurately describe my humor in the following way.

The first thing you'll hear them say is I'm a shotgun.  I'm loud and I'll try thousands of different jokes, phrases, or reactions until one gets a laugh.  For every one funny thing I've said or written, there have been literally hundreds of discarded attempts at humor that resulted in groaning, sighing, eye-rolling, or some other cringe-producing reaction.  Sometimes I'll get on a hot streak, but other times it's obvious I need to keep it an internal dialogue.  But usually it's obvious to everyone but me.

And I'm totally cool with that as long as I get one that I can use for a bit.

The second thing you'll hear is that once I find a nugget of any substantial quality, I'll wear it out faster than a joke that could be inserted here about Paula Deen and her escaping sponsors.  I ring all of the water out of that joke rag, over and over and over again.

Once the joke's done, there's two options.  Give it some downtime and try it again or pull the trigger on the shotgun and hunt for another nugget.

This is an accurate description of how I work.

For the blog, one of the jokes I've been abusing, overusing, and beating to death is the Fleet suppository instructions joke.  In 2010 I first discovered the Fleet instructions.  In 2011 we revisited Fleet suppository humor, and in 2013, I defeated tyranny with new Fleet technology.

I had a lot of fun writing the Defeating Tyranny post on Tuesday.  And earlier today, I got this awesome anonymous comment on the post.
Ha, ha, ha. Sooo hilarious!!! Just think the path you have chosen is worthy 'cause it is the right logical one: no more ankle pain man, ever. Even better, you will be walking, running soon and probably even snowboarding this winter! We are happy to provide our small contribution to it.
The (un-official) Fleet Customer Service.
Simply amazing.  I'm thrilled to see someone who might work for Fleet Customer Service find the blog and read these posts.  I've never once demeaned their products.  After all, I needed them every single time I've written about them.

If you're still reading the blog, unofficial Fleet Customer Service, let's discuss how we can take this relationship to the next level.  Why don't you invite me to be a guest writer for your next product's instructions?  Or better yet, let's do an ad campaign where I'm your humorous yet honest spokesperson.

At the very least, I'm thinking a month's supply of Fleet products, including suppositories, enemas, and laxatives might be in order.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Amputation Work #NSFT

Does this look sturdy enough to stand on?

Fact: I must exercise and eat correctly every day for the rest of my life.  I can no longer manufacture excuses to avoid the gym or allow myself to binge eat terrible, but oh-so-delicious food.

And did I ever thrive on excuses!  I struggle like everyone else.  Somehow, life, my schedule, or "feeling tired" quickly became a roadblock.  A reason would develop  any reason  and allow to avoid doing The Right Thing.

Eating poorly is incredibly easy.  Awful food is so accessible, affordable, and convenient.  And for that tasteful but fleeting moment, eating makes us feel good.  Then guilty.  So we repeat.  There's no end in sight.

I know eating poorly and avoiding exercise is a bad idea.  We all know it.  I was always "trying to get started" on a diet or "planning" on beginning an exercise routine.  I used to tell people I was on a one-hundred push-up program.  But I never executed on these promises.  After two years I could barely do thirty push-ups.  These promises were just words I said outloud to make myself feel like I was doing something while I was actually doing nothing.

Doing nothing is so much easier.  Especially when you have an excuse like an ankle problem.

But the fact remains: I must exercise and eat right.  Every.  Day.  For the rest of my life.  And it doesn't matter if I'm hurt or disabled.  It has to happen or I'm going to be pissed at myself when I'm hanging out on my deathbed, wondering why I was so lazy.

And here's the funny part.  Everything I just wrote above is true whether or not I had this amputation!  The only thing that's changed for me is the importance of a healthy lifestyle is much more obvious and immediate.  In fact, this amputation makes doing the right thing easier!  I have to do it in order to walk.

Before my ankle injury, all of this was still true.  The reason just seemed more ambiguous and far away.

I ignored my good leg in the five months leading up to the amputation.  Huge mistake.

So that's what we're trying to do.  Olu, my home physical therapist, dropped by yesterday.  We executed half of the game plan.  Giving the one-legged Nats fan a workout (that's me).

How about two sets of one?

I cannot imagine how bad I'd be doing on the gym floor if I wasn't working out for five months leading up to the surgery.  In only two weeks I've atrophied away some of the moderate muscle I packed on.  Before my surgery I was 198 lbs.  After the surgery I was 192 lbs.  There's no way my leg weighed more than 4 lbs.  And if you read the Tyranny post, something tells me that there's a pound or two hanging out in the turnpike.

I had to include this embarrassing picture.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  I think feeling the burn?

We strapped about eight pounds around my residual limb and performed two sets of fifteen leg lifts.  My prosthesis will weigh less than this, but Olu did a great job reminding me how much work I must do to prepare for my leg in August with this simple exercise.

Olu supervising a loose bag of muscle and bone named Tony.

I definitely break a sweat with Olu leading the way.  It's a great feeling to get off the couch and do something.  And this feeling lasts way longer than what you get after eating cake and donuts.

Yet another amazing shot.  I'm totally in shape.  And by totally in shape, I mean not totally in shape.

Hip exercises are key.  I've been doing this exercise with a stretch band since January.  I'm really hoping this will go a long way in easing my transition into wearing and using a prosthetic leg.

No exercise post is complete without a butt shot.

I've been doing leg kicks since January as well.  This really helps strengthen the glut, lower back and core.  But since I'm missing half a leg, my balance was totally thrown off.  I'm now terrible at this exercise.

As usual, Olu gave me homework.  I was able to get most of it done, but I've still been too sore to do one-legged wall squats.  We'll have to continue working on my strength, I think, before I can try that again.

Yesterday, after physical therapy, we got another look at the limb and incision.  Below are the pictures.  We also took pictures this morning with Chichi, but I'll upload those tomorrow once I import them (I posted some of them on Twitter this morning).

The pink incision spot without any scabs is something we've been paying close attention to in order to make sure we avoid an infection.

Here's the bottom of the limb after washing it with saline.  I promise to pay close attention to these types of pictures and ensure they are not accidentally, uh, inappropriate.  Might need to start making judicious use of the crop tool.

There's still a little bit of swelling.  It usually gets bigger after physical therapy.

Here's the lateral side.  I occasionally get some bone pain in the fibula proximally.  I imagine this is pain from the Ertl bone bridge.  When we get x-rays next Monday we'll get an opportunity to verify everything continues to look structurally good in the limb.

My phantom limb pain has definitely started to kick in.  The nerves that were severed during the amputation are sending up pain signals.  These signals are arriving in an area of my brain that used to take care of my right foot.  It's now gone.  So my brain's having a hard time figuring out what to do with these signals.  Occasionally my brain makes me feel intense pain in a foot that no longer exists.

The medication I take, Neurontin, really helps alleviate this pain.  We also try to send my brain other signals that it can interpret near the area.  We do this by placing ice packs under and around my knee.  That's done a great job of stopping the phantom pain almost instantly.

This pain, while it sucks, isn't something I'm worried about.  It will ease up as the limb continues to heal and my brain starts to re-wire.  Once I'm in a leg I fully expect this issue to be only a minor nuisance.

One last comment.

If you're reading my blog, and you're struggling with eating and/or exercising, I am asking you to seriously challenge yourself.  Stop talking and start doing.  Don't wait.  Do it now.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Beginning

Two posts in one night?  I know!  I took this picture earlier while Brooke changed the dressing after physical therapy.  More pictures from today are up on Twitter.  I'll publish a write-up with more pictures tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm fixated on this particular image.

I've been asking myself, am I used to my new self-image?  To this new view of my body?  I'm not exactly sure.  It certainly doesn't bother me.  And the science part of me is fascinated with this process.  The motivation part of me is fascinated with the opportunity to get my life back.

But I still don't think it's completely sunk in.  All I know is this is what a new beginning looks like.

Defeating Tyranny

I Need a Butt Hero

Welcome to what has become a tradition for my blog.  This is my post-surgical constipation post, where I complain about a socially taboo subject: pooping (or the lack thereof).  I've written about this problem so often that it has a hero — a butt hero, if you will  and an evil villain counterpart scheming devious plots.

In 2013, as I'll describe below, our patriotic hero has new and sophisticated technology to wield during battle (butt battles?).  But, our story's villain, too, has employed a new and unforeseen weapon.  Fentanyl.  100 times more potent than morphine.  

Epidurals.  Good for pain.  Bad for traffic.

Will good overcome evil?  Will our hero prevail?  Will I ever poop again?

Back in 2010, I learned about some extreme measures one must take in order to ensure gastrointestinal health.  In fact, after each surgery, I've had to deal with my arch nemesis.  As I said, he has a name.  In a narcotic fog, my enemy was dubbed Lex Luther.  His evil plot?

Traffic jam frustrations?  

To permanently block passage through the Tony Turnpike by creating the biggest gastrointestinal traffic jam the world has I have ever suffered.  

The Tony Turnpike, once a finely tuned and efficient thoroughfare for millions of commuters  mostly food trucks  consists of a series of engineered tunnels, overpasses, and, yes, I've stretched this euphemism beyond its breaking point.  I knew it a few words into that sentence.

Basically Lex Luther plugged up my turnpike.  I was on Fentanyl for a week, followed by IV Dilaudid and oral Percocet.  Serious jammage.

My Enemy, Lex.

And, I'm fully aware, I really should have gone with another picture.  

The actual mechanism by which something like Fentanyl blocks up your system is well documented.  Possible contributing factors from the ingestion of strong opiates include, "increased anal sphincter tone, reduced peristalsis in the small intestine and colon, increased electrolyte and water absorption, and impaired defecation response."  

Increased tone isn't something I want to hear right now.  Not after taking a look at what the scientists down at Fleet Company have been working on in their secluded laboratories over the last three years.

Yes, Fleet suppositories have now officially blurred the line between actual suppository and, well, let's call a duck a duck, an enema.  That's a line I was hoping our hero would never have to cross.  A line in the sand that we drew so we could tell ourselves, "at least we never had to do that."

Instructions.  Let's take a look at the wonderfully hilarious instructions.  First, I just have to say that I really appreciate the collar.  Thank you for making sure that I do not accidentally insert the suppository all the way up into my stomach.

Second, your "anatomically correct tip."  Who's anatomy are we talking about here that this is an exact match to?  You know what, no, we're not going to go any further on this one.  This is a family blog.

I like how the instructions make this whole process seem so easy, straightforward, and not uncomfortable or unusual.  "Just insert, squeeze, remove, and discard."  Put the word, "just," in front of anything and it seems so much easier, nicer, and amenable.

  • "Just have a baby."
  • "Just save enough for retirement."
  • "Just listen to this one Michael Bolton song."

This is not how I'd write these instructions.  I'd be more realistic.

"Unique: Okay, look, first of all, let's agree right up front that we won't ever talk about this.  Good.  Second, this is going to get real awkward, real fast.  Third, now this part is really important, so pay attention.  TAKE OFF THE CAP FIRST!  For the love of God please remove the cap before you do any...inserting.  Okay, once you're done, make sure there is a box of Kleenex nearby to wipe away your tears of shame."

Thanks for the heads up, Fleet.  But I just want to be clear, this whole operation was forced upon me.  I had no other option.  I didn't walk into this situation willingly.

The good news is we've yet again defeated Lex.  The turnpike was shut down and inoperable for over seven days.  We're back open to traffic, but still only operating with only one lane open.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stump Update. It's a Stumpdate. #NSFT

Here's a quick update on the leg.  Our home nurse, Chichi, dropped by today to change the dressing.  I did a terrible job with the camera, so I don't have many good pictures.  I was so excited to see the leg.  It's like unwrapping a Christmas present each time we get to see it.  

That's weird, right?

Both Brooke and our home nurse, Chinyere (Chichi), have apparently been paying extra attention to a spot on my incision that lost its scab.  They want to make sure it doesn't develop into anything we need to worry about.  Of course, neither one of them told me they were doing this until today.  Because I'm a worrier.

Smart nurses.

I didn't grab a good picture of the area they're monitoring.  It's the top of the incision here without any black scabs.  I would have had better pictures had they told me they were paying closer attention to it.  We compared pictures of the incision over the last three days and noticed that it's approximating.  This is a good indicator that the incision is healing perfectly.

I had a little bit of draining today, but it was very clear and only a small amount.  Absolutely no sign of infection.  Brooke told me that the incision actually looked worse three days ago than it did today.

I'm very curious about this hole on the lateral side of the stump with two sutures hanging out of it.  It looks like small fishing line.  At first, both Brooke and Chichi thought it was just leg hair.  Upon closer inspection we believe it's a suture to some deeper tissues under the skin.  Stay tuned to find out what happens when we pull the cord on this guy!

All in all the stump continues to look good.  And while it felt good, I'm starting to develop phantom limb pain.  The nerve pain was worse today.  It's all a part of the healing process and it isn't something I'm worried about.  The Neurontin seems to do a great job controlling it.  When I get into a prosthesis I fully expect most of this nerve pain to dissipate.

Our next look at the incision will be Wednesday.

Amputation Complaints and a DC Burger Taste-Off

The Art of One-Legged Balancing

I'm finding out this below-knee amputation thing isn't easy.  And while I've tried to be humorous about my amputated circumstances, I'd like to highlight some of the unexpected, but perhaps obvious and definitely frustrating changes to my new life with one leg.  These are things that can wear you down, physically and emotionally.  But, as with everything in life, only if you allow it.

Even with crutches, I'm surprised at how frequently I balance on my left leg when standing up  usually right after I get up from a sitting position.  Once my leg powers me through the tough transition of sitting to standing, my core, leg and foot push, shift, and adjust continuously to keep me upright.  I find myself ballet dancing in front of the bathroom sink to wash my hands and brush my teeth. 

Getting dressed is also quite challenging.  I try to do some of it sitting down, but that's not always possible if I want to keep my highly touted gluteus maximus clothed.  All of the bending, leaning, and hand time away from crutches to do things like button pants or fasten a belt requires coordination and strength from my left leg and core.  I can't imagine how much worse I'd feel if I hadn't worked out for five months before the surgery.

A New Center of Gravity

For thirty-one years my center of gravity was slightly below my belly button, as it is with just about everyone.  Now it's probably somewhere closer to my left leg.  The good news is balancing on one leg is likely easier for me than it is for you.  But my quadriceps and hamstring are constantly sore and barking every time I stand up.  And this is my first complaint.  

Complaint #1: I'm sore.  Really sore.

One of the big risks to new below-knee amputees is knee and hip contracture.  Muscle contractures are common when muscle atrophy makes it difficult to keep your leg straightened.  As the muscles that keep your leg straight shrink, so do the tendons.  Eventually straightening the leg out again becomes nearly impossible without surgical intervention.  This would be devastating to a new amputee trying to walk on a prosthesis with a permanently bent knee.  It just wouldn't work.  

The Evil Knee Brace

So I wear a knee brace.  I always wear a knee brace.  It's grip around what's left of my right leg never lets go.  I woke up from surgery with the brace.  I sleep with it.  I sit with it.  I shower with it.  I crutch around with it.  I only take it off to do physical therapy or let the leg air out for a moment.

I hate the knee brace.  I've started waking up at night from the restlessness in my straightened right leg.  My response has been to tear off the brace immediately in a sleepy stupor, only to bring my residual limb up towards my body to relieve the tension from forced straightening.  Then I realize I'm totally contracting my limb.  Back goes on the knee brace.  Back comes restless sleep.  And this slides in as my second complaint.

Complaint #2: Knee braces are one of the worst things ever made.

Fentanyl and Bupivacaine Epidural Helped Treat Nerve Pain

In the last few days I've started experiencing nerve pain in my residual limb.  This is expected.  I just had several major nerves dissected.  I'm not sure at this point if this is phantom limb pain, but it could be a precursor or light version of it.  I don't feel any burning or crushing sensations in my phantom toes or the bottom of my phantom foot.  In fact I'm having a hard time determining whether I've got phantom sensation.

The nerve pain hits me only occasionally.  When it does I get a shocking sensation in my stump that jolts me from whatever it is I'm currently doing.  I'm taking 300mg Gabapentin (Neurontin) every 8 hours to treat neuropathic pain.  Fortunately it's not jarring or long lasting.  It's just annoying.  But it's enough to be my third complaint.

Complaint #3: Nerve pain is stupid.

Let me first start out by saying this is challenging to discuss, so of course I left it for the end of this post when most people have already stopped reading.  While I was preparing for my amputation, I knew I'd experience some emotional discomfort along with the physical pain.  But I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming sense of vulnerability and anxiety.  I was surprisingly anxious when I went to the gym yesterday and today.  I felt like all eyes were on me.  And there really wasn't even anyone else in the gym.  Maybe three people.  Normally I do not have this kind of problem.  So those feelings were a big surprise to me.  I think it suggests that I'm still going through a process to get used to the new me.  I'm still not quite comfortable.

It's also not unusual for me to have anxiety over, well, just about anything.  I'm a perfectionist.  Anxiety is a useful tool to make things perfect.  Unfortunately, healing anxiety gets annoying.  For instance, if I hit my limb on a crutch handle, I'll worry that I've harmed the healing process in the bone.  If I do too many quadriceps exercises, I'll worry it will put too much stress on the limb and, again, delay my healing schedule.  

Anxiety blows.  Feeling vulnerable blows.  This is my final complaint for the blog.

Complaint #4: Feelings are dumb.

I wanted to finish the post with something awesome Brooke, Scott, and Christy did yesterday.  They embarked on a quick road trip to purchase four plain cheese burgers from four local Washington, DC establishments and held a good ol' fashioned taste-off.

The locations:
  • Ray's to the Third
  • Five Guys
  • Shake Shack
  • Good Stuff

I got the opportunity to document the taste-off on camera as it unfolded.

Here are the four delicious hamburgers.

Scott fell in love with Ray's.

Brooke prefered Shake Shack over Five Guys. 

Christy took notes during the test. 

This is what the end of a burger taste test looks like. 

Spunky anxiously awaits dropped morsels.

The results were close but not unanimous.

  1. Ray's
  2. Shake Shack
  3. Five Guys
  4. Good Stuff
  1. Ray's
  2. Five Guys
  3. Shake Shack
  4. Good Stuff