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.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that you are keeping this blog - I can't read it all the time, but enjoy hearing a friend talk about something that I see professionally from a different perspective than I am used to.
    Keep up the excellent rehab work! It is an inspiration ...