Getting my prosthesis replaced (2010), part 2: having the socket cast

So, this is a little in retrospect, but here it is!

The new socket is progressing well – a few weeks back I went in for my cast, which is always when things start to feel a bit more real! For me it’s all pretty uninteresting at this stage since it’s been a regular happening from when I was a kid, but I imagine it’d be a bit weird for someone new to being an amputee!

So for the uninitiated, here’s what generally happens – off go the trousers and replace with a weird off-white cotton unitard that goes down your real leg and over the stump. Tie the end off under the stump pirate-style, cut the shoulders on the unitard and tie it like a toga to tighten up on the correct side of the body, stand over some plastic sheeting and have cold, wet plaster wrapped around your stump 😉 Having a good amount of balance helps for this bit, so I’m right at home since I’ve been an amputee since I was a baby.

Anywho, after a bit the wet plaster starts to set and turns from being cold and wet to warm. It’s kinda weird, but I’d hazard a guess it isn’t unlike having a cast put on your arm or leg after breaking a bone or something. Once it’s set, off comes the cast and you clean yourself up by brushing off the plaster. You’ll invariably get plaster seeping through to your underwear, so if you don’t want to ruin your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles undies, wear something expendable 😉

Actually, particularly to the guys, I have a piece of golden advice – if you’re being cast over your stump, I’d recommend shaving or waxing your stump in prep, because when that cast comes off, all that hair’s coming with it.

Was it inappropriate to go into that kind of detail? Hopefully not. After all, you’re going to have to deal with it, so not talking about it won’t make it go away or anything 😛

Anywho, so that covers getting the cast done – next time I’ll be talking about the test socket stage. I’ll continue to update as we go, so just keep track of the 2010 New Prosthesis tag for all the posts related to this topic.

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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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