International Day of People with Disability

Thanks to coverage on my local radio station of choice, Fresh FM, Tuesday December 3 is International Day of People with Disability (http://www.idpwd.com.au/).

I actually hadn’t heard of this before, despite the fact I’ve had my awesome leg of awesomeness since I was a year or two old, so it was great to hear it getting a bit of exposure, and I thought I’d try and do my bit to promote it and talk about it. Particularly special was that Melissa Noonan, co-founder of Limbs 4 Life (a not-for-profit organisation supporting amputees through peer-support programs and an excellent website with forums for people to post in), was a recipient of of the 2009 Social Inclusion Award for all of her hard work helping out fellow amputees and their loved ones.

I think in the lead up to next year’s day I’ll see if there’s something I can get involved in to help out or just celebrate the day. Hopefully this little plug here will wander out into the various search indexes floating online to draw attention to the event, as I think it’s an extremely worthwhile cause.

In the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out the International Day of People with Disability website (http://www.idpwd.com.au/), as well as Limbs 4 Life (http://www.limbs4life.com/). I’ll be adding links to both sites to the side navigation after I post this up.

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Stupid stump

As the heading suggests, I’m in a very mature and rational mood 😛 Was heading home from work yesterday looking forward to jumping into a good session last night at the dojo, and thought – “My stump feels a bit funny, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with the prosthesis though”. By the time I got home and walked out the car though, I knew it was happening again – much like the problems I was having with my leg last week, where I thought the skin had healed over the split in my skin, it was in fact splitting open again. I was actually pretty confident that it was on the mend, but I must have gotten ahead of myself; I should have kept the bandaids over the wound a little longer, but to be honest, it was probably the great little training session I did on Tuesday that started undoing all the good I’d achieved by taking it easy over the course of the last week and a half.

The bummer is that this throws my training regime completely up in the air, as it means I definitely won’t be able to train outside of class, and wholistically, I definitely won’t be able to grade before the end of the year. I know martial isn’t all about the grading, but I like to set goals and achieve them, and am a little bummed that I’ll be falling behind that target I thought I could achieve. Not that it’s really something I could have avoided as I didn’t know the wound hadn’t completely healed over, but still, it’s a bit disappointing.

Still, all the extra effort has not gone to waste by any means – all training is good training, after all – so I’ve now revised my goal to grade up by the end of Q1 2010, and will try to train hard and get myself to a level of expertise so I can grade again before the end of next year.

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Cool, the amputee driving/travel tips worked!

Back in August (here) I blogged about a few things you can do while driving long distances to stretch your stump out on a road trip. The weekend before last Wifey and I jumped out into the far north to catch up with my little brother Tank and his lovely wife Meru, and while the drive was a good 4 and a half hours either way, I didn’t have much of a problem with the trip, which was great. While using the cruise control certainly helped (as did the liberal doses of Cheap Trick and Tears for Fears courtesy of Wifey’s iPod), taking a moment every half hour or so to gently stretch the stump made a huge difference. We also had a break half-way through the trip to grab a coffee and stretch our respective leg(s) which was good too.

If you’re interested in reading up on what I’ve done in the past to alleviate some of the aches you get whilst driving for an extended period of time, feel free to to check out the post in question – I’m not sure how helpful it’ll be for other amputees, but I thought it might prove useful to someone else out there apart from me!

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Mangling my leg (again :P)

So, no training last week (as alluded to in my previous post) – this was due to two things. First and foremost, I had a family dinner on the night I usually train, so that kinda knocked that out. But even if that wasn’t on, more serious than that was my recent mangling of my stump. Y’know, just for something different 🙂

The issue made itself pretty obvious by the time I got up Friday morning – on the back of my stump towards the upper part of the leg (the area that absorbs a lot of the impact when you walk in your prosthesis; I’ve also heard it called the “seat” of the stump, given the bone structure around the area allows the stump to sit on the rear supporting area of the prosthesis), I had a sore that had become inflamed and the skin had actually split open, meaning that whenever I walked with the prosthesis on, it was stressing and tearing the skin as I walked or sat down. I kept off the leg on Friday and took it easy over the weekend, using my walking stick wherever possible, I was hoping things were back to normal by the end of the weekend, so I took the dog for a walk Sunday afternoon around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I probably walked a little too much, because come Monday, I was only able to get half a day’s wear out of my prosthesis before I had to go home and remove it and try and rest it up for the rest of the day. While I was back at work the next day, I was heavily reliant on the walking stick for the rest of the week as I tried to get my stump to heal.

The scary thing about this is that the problems I had with my leg around the summer of 2005/2006 that eventually saw me taking nearly a year off from training started out very similarly to this – it starts with a small sore with split skin, and from there it eventually became a chronic injury that became exasperated by constant use and wear of the stump. It was bad for me for work as I had to eventually take time off to let my stump heal, we changed the interface in the socket to a silicone “sock” and I took nearly 12 months off from karate training. I’m not keen at all for a repeat of that, so I’m pleased that my leg’s manage to repair itself, and more importantly, that I’ve respected my leg’s need to heal.

So, even if I didn’t have family commitments on last week, it wouldn’t have mattered, as I needed to give my body time to sort itself out. Annoying and frustrating as it may be (I’m not overly patient with my body when it needs to heal itself :P), it’s something I’ve come to respect over the years.

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Catching up on a few weeks’ worth of training

This one’s a bit belated, so apologies for the delay!

While I didn’t train last week (more on that later), I have been working hard in and around class the few weeks prior to that. Training during both of those weeks was really full-on… or if it wasn’t, I was working myself as hard as I could in class to get the most out of it. Since I’m keen to grade in December (or at least aim for it), I’ve been really conscious of getting my syllabus mastered to a reasonable degree of proficiency. Training has involved a lot of work on basics and fine-tuning form to continue pursuing perfect execution, form, power and focus. I’ve been trying hard to lower my stances and keep my strikes as solid as possible and maintaining proper form. We’ve been regularly working on kata, and I’m now at the point where I have the basic patterns and forms solidified in my head, and it’s now about execution, form, strength, all that good stuff. There were a few sticking points which Sensei has gone through with me that I hadn’t picked up on, but I’m confident I’m at the point where I can begin to dig deeper and execute the kata with a greater sense of skill and awareness.

We’ve also been going back to working on go-on and ippon kumite – as I’m gradually moving through my kyu grades, I’m now being expected to demonstrate a greater variety of techniques as part of my training. At first I was having trouble trying to pin down to what extent I can expand upon the usual/simple counter techniques I’ve been using, but in one of those lightbulb moments I’m prone to having, I’ve worked out that I can incorporate a lot of my basic combination drills and movements from kata into my responses. This has immediately opened up my available repertoire responses available to me through these drills, and I’m looking forward to continue working on them.

I’ve looked at time frames and will discuss the topic further with Sensei this week, but I have a feeling that should I intend to grade in December (and I do), I’ll need to be constantly revising my syllabus throughout the weeks in the lead up to grading. I started this last night by systematically going through my syllabus in the late evening to ensure I’m confident with all the techniques, and will be putting extra time aside to work on my kata, basic combinations and consider my options for ippon kumite. What’s new in this grading is the incorporation of bunkai into the exam, as well as the performance of an additional kata besides my grade-kata and kihon. The latter I’m not too fussed with as my gradings for my previous style saw everyone go through every kata in the lead-up to their grade kata, it’s just another step I have to be aware of.

So, it’ll likely be a busy couple of weeks, but I’m determined to make this grading and do well – I don’t want to simply scrape by, as I know I’m better than that.

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