Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Adversity, Women's Deodorant, a Stumpdate, and I Will Hunt You Down

No Handlebars

About a month ago, I had one of my two legs removed below the knee.  It was my right leg.  An important leg.  I used it to smash homeruns during my short but storied kickball career.  The amputation was easy, but these are things you already know.

When I woke up from surgery on June 14th, I was told I'd walk by August 1st.  I grabbed that milestone with sixteen days to spare.  But I didn't just grab it.

I no-handlebarred it.

Growing up on the streets as a kid, that was a crowning achievement.  And you had to make it obvious no hands were touching your Huffy.  This move  or even better, the no-handlebars/no-look combo  relinquished control, impressed friends, but increased the risk of a crash.

Perhaps the kind of crash that ends with a faceplant into your parent's sweet 1991 Buick Regal Sedan.

Taking my first steps a month after cutting my leg off without using the handlebars is an achievement.  I recognize this.  And yet I walked out of Orthotic Prosthetic Center frustrated, angry, and sad.

I was in a glass case of emotion.

My stump was sore.  But my emotions were even more sore.  It was frustrating to not understand why I felt bad when I knew I should have felt awesome.  I told Brooke later that night I envisioned running immediately.  But that was not my problem.

The problem was I had let go of the handlebars and I had stopped looking ahead.  It was the dreaded no-handlebars/no-look combo.  I crashed.  My amputation had been too easy.  And now, finally, it was hard.  It was painful.  I have a recovery in front of me.

Here's a brief excerpt I edited out from the sweet montage I put up last week.  This was my first attempt to remove the socket from my freshly trimmed leg.  In this clip Megan, my main certified prosthetist and orthotist, explains to me for the first time how the socket works and how to get out of it.  As you can see, it was a challenge for my massive biceps and triceps to remove.

This went on for hours.  Not so inspiring.  So these clips were cut from the montage.  It's the same reason I haven't updated the blog since last week.  I don't write unless I've come through the other side of the problem with a reason to have a positive attitude, some unique insight, or suppository jokes.

The reality of the situation was I lost sight of just how big of a decision this was.  I knew it was big.  I knew it was final.  But I hadn't been on the other side until now.  Now I was swimming in the consequences.  I have a leg that shrinks faster than the test sockets can be made.  It's frustrating.  And every amputee goes through this.  I've fortunately got an awesome team and network of amputees to talk to about this process.

Earlier today, I met with Elliot and Megan to make a new, smaller test socket.  Because my leg shrank one centimeter in circumference in the last few days, we switched to a smaller liner and recast my leg for a new test socket.  Elliot expects the stump to shrink even further in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow I return for another test drive.  I have high hopes.  As this process improves, my confidence grows.  As my confidence grows, I pay more attention to LivingSocial emails.

In the meantime, I've had to "sock up" to make my now large test socket comfortable to wear.

That's every sock Megan hooked me up with last week just to prevent the bottom of my stump from bearing too much weight in my socket.

Static electricity and sweat.

The stump is doing well.  The picture above was taken the day after first-walk day, so you can see some of the bruising that's since dissipated.  It's still sore, but most of that pain is caused by the large socket banging against my tibia.  The soreness I have now will be resolved with a tighter fit tomorrow.

The liner is very comfortable.  I've started wearing women's deodorant on the stump and leg to prevent sweating.

Apparently this is one of only a few products that actually help prevent liner sweating.  It works like a champ.  And I finally smell light and fresh.  Finally.

Earlier this evening I had dinner with some good friends I hadn't seen in years.  My friend Luke mentioned he had heard that a stand-up comic is using this blog in his routine.  Specifically, he's taken the second paragraph from The Story page and converted it into a joke.

He's stealing my laughs!

I did stand-up in college.  Briefly.  Like, maybe five times.  I had one great show.  Bombed the rest.  It's always been a dream of mine to do stand-up, or at least do something funny.  It's the leading cause of my obnoxiousness (I try out material on people non-stop to see what sticks).

In fact, I had a friend tell me that I probably got this amputation so I could make penis jokes.  That is 5% accurate.

Those laughs are mine.  I'd like them returned.  I now have a new mission to discover this stand-up comedian.

Finally, I have not forgotten about the Sixteen Things Series.  A video is coming soon that continues that series.  Soon!


  1. two things: i too am swimming in the consequences of my major surgery decision. and i love stand up more than i love most things, and as you know from twitter, i can get quite passionate. about anything.
    i thought after i got the fix removed i'd be little miss super star. i didnt expect to have pstd attacks every other night when i felt the dimples now residing in my foot and reminding me of a much harder time spent in a hospital in a town i bearly knew but had me on the news every day for like three weeks. or that i'd be so stiff i can't point my toe to save my life. or that no matter if i'm booted or fancy free i'm pretty much always in pain. still. ...or that i'd get a weird mystery urinary illness that makes it almost impossible to stand from the pain thus inhibiting my pt abilities because every time i stand i get so dizzy and such horrible spasms i pretty much double over and sob. and lets face it, being a hunch back only is cool in france and spain where there are awesome bells to ring all day.
    i've been holled up in bed for months now. and it sucks. and i didnt think it was going to be nearly this hard. but i too take solace in comedy. i say weird things that i think are hilarious [and they usually are] but everybody around me doesnt see that i'm on stage trying to make them laugh in my head. they look at me weird. i look at them weird as if to say LAUGH I'M BEING IRONIC AND HILARIOUS DONT YOU SEE, and then i realize i'm not behind a microphone, and these people didnt pay to come see me. i actually paid them. to put me in pain. willingly.

    also, get the dove clinical protection. trust me on this homie. they smell better, they work better, AND your stump will be as smooth as the new british prince's buttocks. trust me.

  2. Love the bike riding metaphor. As all brave souls do after a crash, you'll get back on that Huffy and ride away into the freaking sunset. Judging from the fact that you were able to put together another excellent blog post, you're already peddling away.

    So sorry that the highs and lows of this emotional rollercoaster never seem to end. Lots of hugs and love from Nick and me. We are cheering you on and laughing at your jokes every single day!

  3. Hey...I wear that deodorant on my pits! BTW, you can buy three-packs for a deal at Costco.

    The stand-up idea is awesome....Just go out on a limb and DO it.

    Okay, low.

    Thanks for you honesty.... great post!

  4. Made me laugh as always. Sorry you've got a rough patch, but you know you'll come out stronger than ever, emotionally, mentally, & physically. Still sending prayers daily for you.

    Ps. I loved your stand up days. You need to hunt this comic

  5. Hey

    I have nominated you for the Liebster blog award! Check out my blog post on the award for more details :')
    I thought you should be nominated as your posts are always very interesting & inspiring! Keep up the good work!

    Love ♡
    Rach xxx