Reading some local amputee blogs

I went hunting for some amputee blogs the other day and stumbled across two new ones I thought were interesting and wanted to share.

The first one is Ordinary Situations, and is written by a fellow Aussie who lost her leg at a young age and details a variety of topics, including some of the challenges/experiences she’s had as an amputee. Unless I’m having a crazy moment, we’ve actually spoken over e-mail before, but I didn’t realise she had a blog as well, otherwise I would have put it up in my link resources sooner! She’s tagged all her amputee/prosthesis stuff together as well, so it makes it easy to read up on what’s been happening with her. It looks like she’s done a me and has dropped off the blogosphere, so hopefully she’ll come back again soon for more posts!

The second one I’ve added is Active Amputee, a blog by a below-knee amputee living in Queensland who originally hails from Canada. I certainly wont hold his heritage against him though, as Wifey and I are fans of Canadians – not only are they polite international travelers and gave the world Degrassi Junior/High, but they also produce 80% of the world’s supply of maple syrup, possibly the greatest condiment in the world. Anywho, as the title suggests, Mike’s a very active above-knee amputee, and when he’s not sporting a shiny new prosthesis with a bright red Canadian maple leaf, he’s doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro. His travel posts are also great, including the travel tips he’s put together.

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Back at training!

Well, kinda back at training – didn’t make it this week due to some leg stuff, but I did get back last week 🙂

It was great to be back in the dojo and train with everyone after such a long break. The workout was fantastic, and being able to practice the two-person drills with other students was great – to help with muscle memory I’ve been practicing them solo while recovering from everything, and managed to form a couple of errors I’ve had to work on. Getting there though!

What’s throwing me a bit at the moment is some of the differences in executing some of the solo uke techniques. Compared to the relative/comparative linearity in Shotokan, performing the same techniques in Koryu Uchinadi is a little different, so it’s time to break old habits! The changes make sense in the spirit of the KU syllabus/philosophy and the links back to traditional Okinawan Kenpo suggest a definite Chinese influence on the techniques. I’m enjoying the use of kake-uke as well – this was taught at higher levels in Shotokan, but I’d had some exposure to it a good few years back when I was training in a Shotokan/Goju hybrid style, though the instruction and execution of the kake-uke wasn’t anywhere near as extensive as it is in KU.

We also did some other drills in class that I wasn’t all that proficient in, but with help from my fellow students, I got there in the end! It’s all learning, so it’s not such a bad thing to be humbled by new techniques and training with more experienced martial artists.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to train drills, combinations and go through some of the standards we use. I’m finding that the nature of KU is lending itself to doing some work on the boxing bag at home, so that’s been great as well. I’m looking at getting my form up to par, and once I get my new leg, I’ll look at posting a couple of videos showing how I perform some of these techniques for others to see, with an emphasis on how I compensate for techniques with my prosthesis. I’ve been meaning to get onto that all year, and I’m determined to get something up before x-mas!

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I watched Vision Quest, and it was awesome

Vision Quest poster

I’m a sucker for martial arts flicks from the 80s, whether it be from Japan or Hong Kong, or from the US. Even if it’s rubbish, I’ll probably still enjoy it, because bad 80s movies are entertaining by default. Vision Quest is hardly earth-shattering, but it’s not a stinking pile of gloop either. In fact, it did a very good job of entertaining Wifey and I for a couple of hours. This is because Wifey is suitably tragic as well. That’s yet another sign of our collective awesomeness.

Moving along – Vision Quest’s a bit of an unusual pick as it revolves around wrestling competitions from the perspective of a US high school, rather than my usual martial arts pics featuring one-man armies with optional mullets. While the film began with a bit of a false start, it didn’t take long to win me over. First of all, it’s a teen movie with 80s grit. Love it. It also features Jake Ryan (well, Michael Schoeffling, but he’ll always by Jake Ryan to anyone whose a fan of 80s John Hughes gold), so there’s more thumbs up, particularly if you’re like Wifey and still harbour a secret passion for Jake Ryan… bugger knows why she married a ranga with one leg considering it’s a bit of an antithesis to 80s Schoeffling, though I’m certainly not complaining 😉

Then there’s the Madonna factor. Not only do we get to see her do her quality 80’s dancing, but we get “Crazy For You” played throughout the movie during montages, in a club, as an instrumental during terrible romantic moments, et cetera.

In fact, let’s give this one another thumbs up for cramming in plenty of montages – if there’s anything Trey Parker has taught us using the power of animation or marionettes, it’s that everything works better as a montage.

But going back to Madonna, I think we need to take a moment to consider the soundtrack. As noted, not only is there some 80s Madonna in there (I’ll admit to enjoying 80s Madonna sugarpop), you get a menagerie of awesomeness in the form of Don Henley, Style Council, Foreigner and (wait for it), Journey. Epic.

But what about the actual movie? Wasn’t too bad actually – I don’t know a lot about wrestling, but it was interesting to see some of the groundwork in there. The Wikipedia entry tell me it’s a bit of a cult classic among middle and high school wrestlers, so I’m guessing there’s something in there.

But for me, it was the cast, the music and the setting that won me over. This of course is completely obvious in this blocky trailer on YouTube:

I know I’m tragic, but as GI Joe told me in the 80s, knowing is half the battle.

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Getting my prosthesis replaced (2010), part 1: starting the process

Those who have been reading up on the blog for a while will know I’ve been struggling the damage to my stump or with my prosthesis for the last 12 months off and on, and I’m pleased to say I’ve finally gotten the ball rolling to have something holistically done about it! Last time I caught up with my specialist was in… June I believe, and back then he mentioned that I was eligible for a new prosthesis since the last one built from the ground up was from 2006-ish (although when we went back to check the paperwork, I’m pretty sure the 2006 job was actually just a socket replacement, as I kept the rest of the leg as part of the build!). I was originally planning to get a move on with this in August, but some unexpected things cropped up, and now we’re in October. So I got there in the end, and it’s proof that it’s not only my training that suffers when life happens, my leg does too 😉

Anywho, I caught up with my specialist and the doctor on Monday last week, and the application has been submitted for processing. I’m told this usually takes a fortnight, and once they’ve been given the green-light, I’ll make an appointment to have a new socket cast to my stump.

I really should have looked into having a new socket put together a while ago – the stump continues to change over time and to its environment, and I have a feeling a lot of the problems I’ve had over the past 12 months have been to do with my stump no longer fitting the mould of my socket as well as it used to. These changes are caused by all sorts of variables from what I understand from a kinaesthetic viewpoint – muscle tone, overall weight of the amputee, usage of the stump, changes in gait, responding to the shape of the socket – so four years on one socket is probably a bit too long.

I think the mentality originates from what I was told as a child – growing up, I’d have a new prosthesis built each year to accommodate the fast pace you grow as a child and adolescent. Back then, I was told that, once an adult, you don’t have new legs built anywhere near as frequently, so that impression still sits with my attitude towards my prosthesis. There’s also the terrible Australian idiom, “She’ll be right”, I have a habit of subscribing to, and that probably hasn’t helped either since I figure any pain is a passing thing and I should just build a bridge and get over it, so to speak 😉

So, new leg, new opportunities? My specialist is looking at introducing some tweaks to the design to allow more flexibility for the stump whilst in the socket, but also with greater suction. We’ll also be looking at adding a more robust knee to the arrangement, though it’ll still be pneumatic as I prefer the practicality of the pneumatic knees in the same price bracket as the hydraulics – higher end of the cost scale I reckon I’d slide over to hydraulic units that offer more sophisticated features, but I’m limited by what’s provisioned under local medical schemes as there’s no way we could afford to spend $1000s on my prosthesis when Wifey and I have a Gen-Y mortgage to maintain. Mind, the support these days is significantly improved from when I was a kid, so I’m not complaining about the existing government support for amputees, just pointing out that I can’t afford or justify the cost of going outside those boundaries given everything else.

I’ll continue to update as we go, just keep track of the 2010 New Prosthesis tag for all the posts related to this topic.

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Excellent 2 part interview with Hanshi Patrick McCarthy @ Ikigai Way

Just a heads-up – Sensei posted a note on the KU-SA Facebook page that linked to an interview with Koryu Uchinadi founder Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, and guess what? It was from Matt over at Ikigai Way! Given that our club is now training exclusively in Koryu Uchinadi and that I’m trying to train my mind in lieu of some injuries that are keeping me from training physically at the moment, I’m reading up and studying information on the style, as well as viewing footage of the techniques and drills so that I’m not too rubbish when I start back in class again, so this is great timing.

It was great getting a digest of Hanshi’s varied training and experiences, but it was the discussion on KU philosophies and the extra bonus of mentioning the hakutsuru style that has particularly piqued my interested, as I’ve talked about this with Matt in the past after he mentioned one-legged kata in the syllabus. It re-affirms my interest in grabbing a copy of Hanshi’s Bubishi: The Classic Manual of Combat, though I’m currently ploughing through some study at the moment, so recreational reading has been on-hold for a while and is likely to roll on into early 2011 at this stage.

But enough of that – head over to Ikigai Way and read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview!

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