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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Four lies and one martial arts fact

Jesse over at The Martial Explorer has tagged me in an awesome bit of blogging tomfoolery. Being rather chuffed to be picked out for this (despite the fact he tagged my almost 2 weeks ago!!!), here ’tis:

The meme works as follows. You post five things about yourself. Four are untrue. One is true. All are so outlandish, implausible or ridiculous that no one would be inclined to believe that any of them are true. And despite the pleas from your readers, you never divulge which is true and which are fabrications. You then tag five other people (four seriously and one person you are pretty sure would never participate).

  1. During a home training session, I caused irreversible damage to both myself and my boxing station
  2. When I was much younger, inspired by pop culture icons The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I performed a jump kick while waiting to get picked up from school and snapped my leg in half whilst mid-air, sending the other half flying across the road
  3. My brothers and I used to break into my Dad’s tool shed when we were kids and fight each other with spades, rakes and sticks in the spirit of Monkey (or as it was locally known, Monkey Magic)
  4. When I was still in primary school (which is elementary school for those of you on the North American continent!), I used my newly-learned Taekwondo techniques to successfully defend myself in a classroom scrap
  5. I can still effortlessly perform vertical axe kicks with my prosthesis

There are elements of truth in all of them, so good luck!

Should they happen to drop by (and haven’t been tagged already!), I’ll tag BBM from Black Belt Mama, Wim over at Wim Demeere’s Blog, Patrick from Mokuren Dojo, Jon at EPIC Martial Arts, and brother Tank (who can leave a reply in the comments if he’s interested :P) 😉

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Weight watching

So there are two reasons I habitually check on my weight:

Number one, I’m vain 😉 I was a bit of a chubber when I was a kid, and got sick of it when I was around 15 and went on a crash, anally retentive diet for about 12 months. No snacks, smaller portions, exercise, no dessert, stuff like that. It ended up working – between a couple of growth spurts and a serious change in diet, I shed all the weight over a year, and managed to keep it off while my metabolism continued to kick in. Thankfully for me, despite my good dieting habits taking a bit of a dive during Uni (cheap meal deals at Hungry Jacks and a fresh doughnut place at the train station were good fun ;)), I managed to keep it all off throughout my studies and until I graduated and moved out. True, looking at some photos of when Wifey and I first moved in together I was definitely too skinny, but anywho, I managed to kick the fatty gene.

Number two, keeping your weight steady is *essential* as an amputee. The socket has to fit the form of your body, so if you drop too much weight or stack on too much, your prosthesis isn’t going to fit because your body shape changes in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Thankfully you normally get some warning – the prosthesis starts slipping off your stump or won’t sit on it correctly, you get chaffing, skin breakdown, stuff like that.

Note that I said “steady” up there – you get problems if you drop too much weight as well as put it on, in that the prosthesis just falls off in addition to all the rubbing and chafing! Mind, all that’s needed in order to fix this is to have a new socket moulded, but it depends on what you’re doing – if you’re trying to loose weight, it’s all good, but if you start stacking on the weight (and you don’t need the extra kilos), it’s the start of a slippery slope – it gets harder to walk, you might eventually get into strife trying to find a knee and ankle/foot that’ll support your weight, and the cycle hits pretty hard the further you go. As those who have been/are overweight know, it’s harder to exercise when you’re heavier, which makes it even more difficult if you’re an amputee *and* you’re overweight. Hence why I take it seriously and keep an eye on it.

In terms of my weight (moving on from my teen years), things started getting interesting once I started nearing my mid-20s and I found the weight was starting to roll back on, especially over the 12 months I had off from training around 2005/2006 (hit the archives for details – here’s the lot, most recent entry first). So, to keep it at bay and get back on track, shortly after moving into our current place I started keeping track of my weight each week. I had a few aims behind this – I wanted to trim some excess weight (particularly around my belly and waist), get back into my weight training and continue to intensify my karate training. With my weight, I was aiming to bring myself down to about 70kg (remember that I’m not that tall, coming at around 5’8″!) despite the fact that the weight training was going to pack on extra weight as well (muscle weighs more than fat, or so popular opinion tells me!), which would mean that theoretically I’d shed more fat weight by combining it with increasing my muscle mass at the same time.

So this brings us back to now – while I’m not too sure what my muscle mass is sitting at since I haven’t done any intense weight training in about a month, at my last weigh-in I was a hair’s breath away from my goal weight, so I’m pretty chuffed with myself at this stage. Funnily enough I’ve still got my damn love handles, but hopefully if I continue on, start up my weight training again next week (now my thumb’s sorted itself which means I can lift the bar without worrying about splitting the wound), kick in with intense, focused training at karate and some extra stretching and exercise between these (such as taking the dog for an extra walk or two), I might eventually get rid of them 😉

… and that ends my jumbled rant about weight, amputees, and another one of my stories 😉

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Archive: Taekwondo, 1991-style

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 30 May, 2007

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it much before, but my first formal introduction to martial arts training came when I was in Year 4, when I was about… 8 I think. Either that or it was Year 5 and I was 9. Regardless, I was in primary school, and I was still in the throes of “Angry Sean-o”. Most people I talk to now can’t believe that I was a little punk when I was a kid. From the age of about 5 or 6 until about 11, I was a great big pain in the arse. I used to answer back to the teachers, would regularly have to see the principal, would get constantly grounded, used to pick angry fights with my older brother Miguel, I started up a ‘fight club’ at school when I was 9 (not that (a) Fight Club was anywhere near to being created in all its uberness, or (b) a primary schoolyard organised scrap constitutes a ‘fight club’ :P) and was generally an arsehole.

Anywho, I had this passion for martial arts, and my Dad thought that it would be a good idea to take himself, Miguel and I to Taekwondo classes by the time we returned from a few years in Darwin and I was hopefully old enough to tell the difference when to use the martial art, and when not to. To be honest I wasn’t sure what the outcome was – I was still a pain during the time I did Taekwondo (which was for maybe a year, possibly more?), but to my credit I don’t think I actually used it to randomly injure too many kids… I know I would have used it on Miguel because we used to fight pretty full-on as kids, but outside of that… I don’t know. I remember picking a fight in class when the teacher was out getting something… I’m not sure why, I was probably bragging about the fact I did Taekwondo knowing me 😛 This  proved to possibly be a good thing however…

You see, the kid I picked a fight with used his hands, and I learnt the hard way that in order to kick at someone, you need some room… and being wedged between classroom desks and chairs is hardly fertile ground for delivering a clumsy kick at someone. So, in short, I lost the scrap, and probably looked pretty goofy as well 😉 I’ve never forgotten the lesson though – be wary of your surroundings.

But back to Taekwondo. I only managed to scrape to my yellow belt, which in my mind’s eye took forever. I daresay the reason I stopped going was because I had a habit in those days of being pretty fickle with stuff – I did swimming for a few years and was getting really good, then got bored of it and stopped. Did Taekwondo for a while, then stopped. Got really into basketball (basketball was very in circa 1992-1994, as were parachute pants and Megadrive; things change :P) for a few years, then stopped when I got to high school. In fact, I pretty much stopped everything when I got to high school – changed my focus to studying and by then I’d gotten out all of the angriness… or learnt to suppress it 😉 That, also, is the subject of another blog.

So, how did I go with TKD? Not too sure to be honest. I mean, I see the kids at karate, and while you have to admire their effort, they’re not exactly excuding perfect form. I’d be kinda weirded out if they did; in that sense, watching little kids do martial arts isn’t entirely unlike watching junior, like primary school soccer or footy – the kids get out there, and kick the ball somewhere and run after it. It’s very cute, but we’re talking elite sportsmen for the most part. Sure, it probably solidifies concepts or foundations for later on, but I’m getting distracted again… 😛

Anyway, I remember doing all the moves and stuff, the kicks, punches and so forth. It was actually a good thing I reckon in the long run, even if I only did it for a short period of time. I felt it made starting karate a little easier since I remembered some of the basics – chamber your punch, long stances, first kata, raise your knee for your kicks – and the lesson format was kinda familiar, too. And all training halls with the wooden floors and kinda aged stone walls (aka your average community gym/hall) have that same smell/feeling when you go inside.

It’s so long ago that I can’t remember in much detail how I coped with learning different things, how I overcame stuff, how my technique evolved… if it did at all 😉 But I knew from experience that when it came time to learn a martial art that I couldn’t do Taekwondo – too much focus on leg work and not enough on upper body techniques. I know this is a generalisation (and conversley, TKD practitioners criticise karate for the quality of their kicks; in fact, most martial arts have participants who have a habit of criticising different styles or different arts altogether [again, food for thought and the subject of further blogs!]), but I believe that I’ve made the right choice in choosing to go down the path of karate.

I waffle on too much 😛 Quick summary – I did Taekwondo as a kid, it was fun, but I was fickle and gave it up 😛 My Dad and brother kept going a little longer and got to their green belt (it went white >> yellow >> green), but they stopped after Miguel got hit by a car and broke his leg, which is pretty understandable.

Well, next time I report I daresay will be a post-training round-up. Oh, and for those interested I’ve added a few more photos and stuff to my pics; nothing training-related, just random stuff 🙂 Enjoy!

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Archive: Update and a recap

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu/MySpace
Original post date: 16 January, 2007

Well, it’s now Tuesday and despite the fact that I forgot to throw on the knee brace this morning, all is going well. I’ve had the anti-inflammatory for the last few nights, and I’ve been icing up my knee as well. I think it’s working really well – my knee feels like its swinging through a lot better now. I’m not sure how many people talk about knees swinging through, but yeah, it’s definitely an improvement! I reckon I might ice my knee up post-training for a few weeks to make sure it stays well (thanks for the suggestion Wifey!), and hopefully this week I’ll start some exercises between classes to strengthen up my leg to help cope with the training.

Okay, so I said a while back that I’d throw in tidbits from my training, and I figured that now might be a good time to start… especially seeing as it’s 40 degrees outside at the moment, and knowing my luck, not enough people will rock up tomorrow night for training again 😛 Anywho, back to the point – I figured today I’d talk about the reason I had my 12-month break from karate from November ’05 – November ’06.

First up, I’ll give a little background to the situation. In early 2005 I was given the privalege of an invitation to join the instructors and assistants at the weekly senior training sessions. These would be on a Sunday night and go for a good 1.5 – 2 hours, and the only way you were able to attend was purely by invitation – students from lower grades were generally invited if their instructors thought they had potential or showed a great level of commitment in order to prepare them for assisting during class, and eventually being able to instruct classes themselves. The commitment and potential of ur little group (Jyastin-kun, Tank, Buu-Adam and myself) were looked upon favourably, so we were extended an invitation. I was chuffed, given I only had one leg and could still do this crazy training.

Anywho, senior training was/is awesome – it’s incredibly full on and the standard is really high, and it definitely pushed me, which is a good thing. In the leap up to my grading at the end of October ’05, I pushed myself a bit too hard, and post-grading, a started having troubles with my leg. The maleable plastic sheath inside my prosthesis started to tear, and as a result started damaging the skin on my stump. I’d also destroyed another knee unit over the course of 12-18 months, and when a new one was installed, I misjudged the correct height and waited too long to get the height adjusted properly. The incorrect height, coupled with the tear in the plastic sheath, started to cause my skin to tear.

I had the height fixed in January, but by then I was already having massive issues with my leg. I was wrapping gauze padding over certain spots of my stump and taping it down with adhesive bandages; over the course of the month, the repeated stress the adhesive caused to my stump resulted in infrequent skin break down on my stump. I was working with the guys who take care of my prosthesis (they’re awesome people) and we were in the process of moulding a nw socket and preparing to tray something a little different with the net result – the stump would still be help in place by a suction leg with a valve on the side to assist with controlling the air pressure therein, but we would be moving towards using a silicone “stump sock” to act as the interface between my stump and the socket this, in itself, is a topic in and of itself – I’ll have to post something down the road that explains how these legs work, and the types of artificial legs I’ve had over the last few years. This experiment would therefore allow me to keep my current level of activity, but the use of the silicone material meant that the skin on my stump wouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the damage. The organisation that offers support for amputees where I live had also added it to their free listings scheme under certain circumstances, so I could afford to make the move as well.

Anywho, by the end of Febuary, things got really bad I only wore my leg when I needed to, and generally hopped around everywhere or used my crutches to get around, which I’d started doing in January. One evening when I was changing the gauze and adhesive bandage, I literally tore the skin off the base of my stump – I felt it doubly because I used to use eucalyptus oil to clean the adhesive residue off my skin, and it stung my skin as a result. I took a week off work, saw the doctor to get some stuff to make sure it didn”t infected, and stayed off my leg for the week. At this point, we’re looking at it being the end of Febuary/early March.

Shortly after this lovely event, I received my new leg with the silicone goodness. To my relief, my stump had healed up completely within two weeks, and I noticed that the impact tearing on the other end of my stump (something I’d had for five years) had gone away. This was definitely a good thing! The tricky part wass learning how to control the leg with this different method of suction and keeping the leg in place. I had decided to go back to training before my wedding and give myself a break in the week or two leading up to it (which was in July last year) – I went back in June for a lessono, and then Wifey and I ended up getting too busy with wedding plans to have my going off to training again.

Shoot forward to late August/early September – Jyastin-kun and I head off on a Monday evening to go back to classes, and we get greeted with nobody there – it turned out that the Monday classes ended up getting cancelled in lieu of senior training being changed over to Monday nights (it used to be on Sunday nights). This put both of us in a quandry, as both of us worked Wednesday nights and we weren’t game to just show up at senior training after such a long absence (not to mention that our form was poor owing to a lack of regular training!).

My lucky break came in November, where I started a new job, and I no longer had to work weekends or late into the evening – the first week starting my new job, I was back at Wednesday night training. Uber.

Well, there you go – a long entry, but like I said, I’m writing this to record all the stuff that has happened with regards to my training. True, its long winded, but that’s not surprising – I generally waffle on too much! I reckon I’ll leave it here, and will probably post again on Thursday or Friday to talk about how tomorrow night’s training goes… if the heat backs off 😉

BTW, if random people (and not-so random people!) are reading this, feel free to add comments and stuff 🙂

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