Friday, 24 August 2012

End of the Week

Forgot to say earlier that on Tuesday my new wheelchair arrived. I had ordered it from a company near Manchester using the Wheelchair Voucher that I had been issued with. It's pretty neat, but more importantly it's nice and light. I don't actually need a wheelchair on a daily basis but I will use it when I go in for my next lung operation.

Although I have been practising doing a few flips etc.

After the dizzy spells I had on Wednesday I reduced the Gabapentin dosage down form 900mg to 600mg and it appears to be having effect, I'll report further next week.

I'm still walking approx a mile or so a day, and concentrating on posture etc, I'm going to need to find some more routes as boredom is slowly setting in

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Not much to report

Today was Physio day at Stanmore. I was determined to walk in to see Jennifer without a walking stick, however I had a slight problem. We waited outside the gym and when Jennifer called us in I got up out of the chair and had a dizzy moment. I had the same dizzy moment getting out of bed this morning. So very strange.

Jennifer took my blood pressure which was a little high but I put that down to the effort of putting my leg on and walking through the hospital to the physio gym. I had a good session and Jeniffer was pleased with the progress I had made. Although I did get a small ticking off for not using a walking stick, apparently I still need to use one for a little while longer.

This evening I did a little research on the Gabapentin Tablets that I take for the phantom limb pain, and it would appear that two of the side effects are dizzyness and a slight ringing in the ears. I'm normally OK with my 3x daily dosage, but yesterday I took the afternoon dose really late and very close to the evening dose. So I think I temporarily overloaded the system which caused today's dizzyness. I also have a slight ringing in my ears most days, but not enough to cause concern. Hopefully I will have returned to normal by tomorrow, I'll let you know.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Same Leg - Same Mile in reverse - 45mins

Just to make sure that boredom doesn't set in I did the same Mile route around the block this evening, but in reverse. So what's different I hear you say. You able bodied people just walk without thinking about it, whereas I have to look ahead all the time to see what the pavement is doing.

All pavements generally slope slightly towards the road, this is to make sure that rain water drains into the road. Also there are drop kerbs so people can drive their cars off the road. With a prosthesis it is easier to walk with the false leg nearest the road, ie on the lower side of the pavement. Drop kerbs have a slope down and a slope up on the pavement and both of these give different problems to a prosthesis wearer.
Walking the same route in reverse presents different problems.

That's the science bit, and you thought it was easy !!

Anyway 45mins was 10% time improvement, I'll settle for that.

This is how fast I can now walk !! Haven't quite perected the grin yet !!

I need to say a big thank you to Dave at the Limb fitting Center because the mods to my socket have made it extremely comfortable, and this is the reason why I am able to do these long walks.

It's looking like my 2nd lung operation will be early Sept, should be confirmed this week.
Be nice to get it all over with, and back to normality.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

1 leg - 1 mile - 50 minutes - No Falls

Another Milestone completed. This morning I went out for my usual walkabout, when I got to the top of my road I thought how boring to walk up and down the same bit of road. So from my running days I recalled  that a complete circular route around the block was 1 mile, so why not go for it !!

The block is rectangular "ish", with 3 long sides and 1 short side. Our close is halfway along one of the long sides. So off I strode noting the starting time at 10.10 and completing the first half long side with ease. Turning on to the next long side was fairly daunting as it looked a long way down to the next corner. Not to be put of I pushed on, stopping occasionally to compose myself. About 50 meters from the corner is my local gym so getting there is going to be no problem in the future. At the corner there is a War Memorial to the Tiptree lives lost in the two wars.

and as you can see there is a nice low wall for one legged blokes like me to rest upon.

At this point I had covered approx 1/2 mile, so I was pretty pleased. After a short rest I carried on, by which time the sun was blistering down and I was pleased to walk partially in the shade of some of the trees dotted along the way. Halfway down this leg of the route the local shops start to appear, Tesco's on the opposite side of the road and the smaller local shops on the side I was walking. This long side went well and fairly quickly (relatively)

I then turned on to the short leg of less than 100 meters, followed by 1/2 of the first long leg. This half leg is pretty boring, ie nothing of note just houses on both sides. however this is where I fell last Thursday so extra vigilance on the stretch. All went well, and after a few hundred meters I turned into our close, and home; albeit very hot and with a very damp tee shirt, but certainly elated !!

I checked my watch, 11.00, so a 50 min Mile. Not bad for a first attempt with no falls.

Another Milestone in my life !!
What next I wonder ??

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Getting back in the Saddle !!

After my little tumble on Thursday I had a day of rest on Friday as my leg was a little sore, and my body ached a tad. I think I twisted myself when I fell, however, I guess it's to expected at my age !! I ain't getting any younger.

The weather on Friday was blistering, wall to wall sunshine, and it was really nice to see an old mate of mine who took time out to drive over to see us. Neil and I go back a few years to when we both had houses in Florida. I had bought our first house on Doral Woods, a nice development just south of the 192 near Kissimmee. Neil then bought a house in the same road, Elbert Way. A couple of years later I was offered the chance to buy one of the last remaining plots in the next road Evans Drive. I bought the land and contracted a local builder to build a lovely 4 bed, 3 bath house with outside pool. About six months later Neil grabbed the last remaining plot which was next to mine, and he built a superb 4 bed house. These houses were rental homes which we rented out mainly to UK families visiting the Disney area.

In 2004 Florida had the worst Hurricane season for a long time. The first to strike was Hurricane Charley in early August. It devastated central Florida and ripped through Doral Woods Smashing up both our properties. Neil and I  flew out the following day and spent 3 weeks patching up our houses, making them watertight and sorting out insurance claims. It was without doubt the hardest 3 weeks of our lives, working 18 hour days in blistering heat and no air conditioning in our homes. During this time we forged a good relationship, and we have been good friends ever since.

I digress, Neil is a real car enthusiast and he drove over in his 1960 Corvette Convertible, so for all you petrolheads out there here it is

What a beautiful car, and we heard him coming from the next village !!

Saturday - Leg on this morning for an hours workout. Well I did about 15 mins then I thought that maybe I should go back home and try to do some of the normal things that we all take for granted.

I thought what about the lawn, it needs cutting and edging. Friends have kindly been doing this for me. So I opened up the garage, ran out the extension lead, connected the strimmer and started doing the edges and corners etc. It was relatively easy, I just need to concentrate on making sure my leg was locked before putting weight on it.

So the strimming was OK, what about mowing the lawn I thought. So I got the mower out checked it had enough petrol and I sat on one of the low walls and started the mower up. Off I went up and down, although I did find it hard turning both myself and the mower at each end. Also pushing the mower was harder than I had anticipated. I guess it was around 11.00 and the temperature was pretty hot which made it harder but I persivered until I had finished the whole lawn. My Tee Shirt was absolutly soaking wet, but I had achieved another goal. Later in the day not surprisingly I was pretty knackered and had to have an afternoon siesta.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Progress in Small Steps

After reaching Milestone 1 the other day I had to take a step backwards. Basically I was getting to the stage where the socket was becoming painful and in need of modification. I had gone out yesterday morning for my usual walk and after about 10 mins I had to return home, the socket was really painful around the crutch. 

I phoned Dave the Technician at Stanmore to discus the problem and of course he knew exactly what was wrong. My leg has now shrunk a little, so that it is going down further in to the socket, hence the painful crutch. Fortunately Dave could fit me in with an appointment today at 2.00 to sort out the problem.

For me this was a first as I drove the new car to Stanmore with Jane as a passenger. I haven't driven to the hospital, or any ware else for that matter, for nearly 3 months so a really good outing for me.

When we arrived at the Limb centre Dave was quick to discuss the problem and to offer the solution of trimming back the socket in the offending areas. The socket also has a silicon liner which Dave folded over the outer material and heated in to position to give a larger softer edge. I tried the leg on and was pleased with the changes, it felt much better and without any painful areas.

We arrived back home at around 4.30 so I decided to go out for a hour or so to check out the leg for comfort. It was good, and I felt comfortable, although it will take a lot more practise to become perfect. I was approaching the final walk back when I must have lost concentration and suddenly found myself flying to the ground grazing my elbow in the process. I had tried to put my weight on the leg before it had locked out. The knee, of course, had folded under me and CRASH !!

Still if you don't make mistakes you don't learn.
Unfortunately these mistakes are generally painful !! but hey ho.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Walking without Sticks !!

A friend of a friend phoned me today, his nick name affectionately is "Parrot Bob" Given to him by our good friend Andy T, and not because he's only got one leg like myself but because he keeps a parrot. Bob lost leg above the knee when he was about 17, so has a wealth of knowledge. He very kindly phoned today to see how I was getting on.

I told him of yesterdays problem with the change of shoe to trainers, and he very quickly spotted the problem. My initial shoes are fairly flat healed, and the trainers I changed to have a good 20mm cushioned heal for runnning. This changes the aspect of the foot from being flat to slightly sloping. Little changes like this make a huge difference to walking. I wasn't aware of this so I have now changed back to the flatter shoes.

So a big thank you to Bob, and I'll certainly be on the phone next time I have a problem.

So here's to days video of my first attempts to walk without the aid of walking sticks.
It's a big milestone and I have achieved it quicker than I thought I would.
So now I need to work on perfecting it.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Milestone No 1

Today I decided to try a different pair of shoes on the leg. Up until now I've been wearing the same pair. So I thought it was time for a change so I popped on a pair of my old trainers and ventured out. Absolute disaster !!  I couldn't walk more than a few steps before the leg decided not to function. I spent nearly an hour walking up and down the access road to our close, gradually improving but still nowhere as good as I had been previously. On my last attempt friends drove into the close to see us so I abandoned the session.

This afternoon I ventured out again, and low and behold I found that I was walking fine with just the occasional blip. So good in fact, that within half an hour I had started to walk without the aid of the walking stick. I did about 4 or 5 walks up and down our road completely unaided. I guess that I had found the confidence and balance required to stop relying on the stick.

Milestone No 1 Completed !!

So tomorrow it's just me and my leg, let's hope it goes well. I'll hopefully get a video and post it for all to see. It may not be the prettiest of walks, but it is me walking unaided. Milestone No 2 is to walk unaided to my local Gym which is about 1/2 mile away. There's a coffee waiting for there for me, so that's the incentive.

Brilliant Day !!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

This morning was the first day of the rest of my life

And I started it off with my first solo walk around my close, and I also ventured a little further into the next road. I was stopped by a friend passing in her car who was really surprised to see me doing so well on my first day. Also when I got back to my close I was met by one of my neighbours taking his dog for a walk, I stopped and we had a chat for 5 mins, both of us commenting on how much we were enjoying the Olympics. As I was out for about an hour the two stops I had helped me to rest.

So that was a first, let loose by myself with my new leg, and no falls !!

Home after that for a quick shower, and our long time friend Dallas picked us up to collect our new car. Thanks for that Dallas - much appreciated

This is it on our drive.
The journey home was interesting as I had to use my left leg, and I haven't driven an automatic for a while. However it didn't take long to acclimatise and within 10 mins I felt comfortable. We took the longer scenic route home rather than going through the centre of Colchester which was better with less traffic.

So now I'm mobile and it really is a very good feeling.

If there's one thing I've learnt over the past year it's
"Don't take anything for granted in life, everything is special"

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Leg !!

He's finally home, my new right leg that is. Not sure what to call him at the moment, but I'm sure somebody out there (probably Muddy) will come up with a suitable name.

Today Jeniffer the physio gave me an hour of intensive training with the leg to ensure I was competent and safe to take it home. Although it was over 2 weeks since I had used it, due to the operation, I felt fine and got on well. Although I did have one fall, but that's to be expected and I'm sure it wont be the last.

The socket is the first one made and I have to wear the support belt which you can see attached to it. This belt goes around my waist and helps to support the leg. As my leg shrinks a new smaller socket will be made, probably in about 6-8 weeks, and finally in about 6 months or so I'm hoping for a vacuum socket attachment which I will elaborate on in a later posting.

Today my new car was having the modifications done to install an additional left foot accelerator, and at about 5.00pm I had a call to say it was complete and the car was back at the garage. So just the final valeting in the morning to make it ready for us to collect. We have friends taking us to the garage in the afternoon around 2.00pm, so tomorrow I'll tell you what's it's like to drive with my left leg !!  Should be interesting.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Wheelchair Sorted !!

It took just 1/2 an hour to sort out the wheelchair mess. Why did it have to get this far before a suitable solution was available ? 

Very simply the wheelchair service which is part of the NHS has two options. Option1 to supply a wheelchair via an accredited supplier which is what initially happened to me. However without detailed consultation with the wheelchair user and their carer, this option means that the user probably ends up with the wrong wheelchair.

Option 2 is to supply a voucher, which means user can then select his or her own wheelchair from any suitable supplier, and if necessary top up the value to get the required wheelchair. In my case this option was never offered and I'm not happy about that.

Having said that today I was assessed, and I stuck out for the voucher scheme. I ended up with a voucher worth £320, which is way in excess of my requirements, but I'm happy with that.

I will be writing the the Chief Executive of the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust to ask some questions as to why the service treated me as it did. Hopefully I can change the way the Wheelchair serves its customers, there are clearly things that could be improved.

I thought you would like to see what I'll be like as soon as I come off all the pills and can have a drink or two

Can't Wait - Mines a Pinot Grigio !!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Busy Week Ahead !!

I'm looking forward to this week. It's just under 2 weeks since my lung operation and I'm healing well, the wound is still a little sore and my chest is slightly tender, but every day there is an improvement, and I'm feeling good.

Monday sees us making a visit to the wheelchair service, where I have been summoned to attend an assessment to see if I qualify for a voucher to purchase a wheelchair. I recon that with only one leg I should, but you never know we'll have to wait and see. Check the blog for an update on Monday !!

Tuesday I need to visit the Garage where my new car is coming from as I need to show them my Blue Badge. I probably didn't mention it but Hyundai run a scheme called "Affinity" whereby certain sections of the public can purchase a new car at a considerable discount. This includes police, NHS staff, etc and also includes holders of Blue Badges. So I qualify, but I need to get to the garage to give them the details.

Big day for me, I collect my leg from Stanmore. I'm booked in for an hours physio at 1.30 with Jennifer. Due to the operation I haven't been on my leg for a while so I'll need some further practice with instruction from Jennifer before leaving for home. Once at home I can practice morning and afternoon at leisure.

Another big day !!  I collect my new car. I have bought a Hyundai i40 tourer automatic.

It was difficult to breakaway from Ford as I've had several over the years and been very pleased with them. However I couldn't find a suitable automatic so I took the plunge and went Korean. I checked it out on line and car for car, and value for money it came out well. So lets hope it proves to be as good as it appears.

It's got just about everything you want in a car, full leather, sunroof, touch screen navigation, key less entry, electronic handbrake, reversing camera etc.

Well, I bet you can guess what I'll be doing Friday. Going out for my first driving day since I had the amputation 2 months ago. Whilst I've had automatic cars before It's going to be a learning curve driving with my left leg, so I'll give you an update on what is was like next weekend.

Said it was a busy week !! but it's also a milestone week !!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wheelchair !!

For those of you who have been following my postings, you will remember the problems I had with local wheelchair services, back on the 27th June. Having heard nothing since then, I contacted my GP's surgery to request that the Wheelchair Service contact me to discuss my requirements. I still have the wheelchair allocated to me by The Royay National Orthopeadic Hospital over 2 months ago, and I should have returned it by now.

I was promised that I would be contacted the following week (last week) Well, of course you've guessed it, no telephone call. Until Monday 2 days ago we received a call from the same private disability company that brought round the armchair on wheels, to say that they would be delivering a wheelchair on Tuesday.

Pre-empting what they would turn up with I decided to contact the Wheelchair Services people. Got the No off the Internet and rang them. When I asked why no one had called me, the response was, we have called you. Well I responded with that's a complete lie because it was. I asked why the service doesn't speak to people to discuss not only the users requirements, but also the carers requirements, before just sending out any old chair. They insisted they did. I told them to cancel the planned visit for Tuesday, as I knew that it would be waste of time.

There's a big difference between chairs as you can see 

Having done some previous investigation I found out that there is also available a voucher scheme which enables the user to select his own equipment, and if required to top up the voucher value to get the most suitable. This option has never been offered to me. I find this disgraceful, and I intend to take it further.

When I asked about the voucher scheme I was asked if I wanted to go on it, I asked why it had never been offered to me. Of course the answer was that I had been. Lies, lies and more lies. I opted to for the voucher scheme and was told the paperwork would be sent out to me. Then an hour or so later, surprise surprise I got a call from the Wheelchair Service to say I had to come in for an assessment. I went through the "I can't fake this amputation, it's not a bad back due to being overweight" answer, but I guess they think they are getting back at me by making me travel to the center for an assessment on Monday. I think they have picked on the wrong person !! 

ps. Can you guess what happened about the planned visit for Tuesday that I asked them to cancel.

You got !!!  The company turned up with another wheelchair

That's another £ xxxx of tax payers money wasted.

My mission is to sort this unbelievable system out. Watch this space for more updates.